Why depend on the Government ? She took the initiative and developed Dial Kashmir App. What's that?

mehvish mushtaq

“How can we speak of changing Kashmir when we cannot even stay back and work for it? Complaining hasn’t worked for us so far. Someone has to stop waiting for the government to step in and take Kashmir’s development in their own hands – and that could be Me.”, quoted Mehvish Mushtaq in her blog. Ask me who is Mehvish and I'm very excited to tell you everything about this woman from Kashmir who built a one-of-its-kind App called "Dial Kashmir" that brings the contact details of every vital Kashmir's service on your fingertips. A confident techie and an ardent lover of the motherland has a got great story to inspire us all. Let's get into knowing more about this 32-year-old who says that her life is dedicated to working for the upliftment of the Valley. 

Born In and For The Valley: 

Born in 1989 to an Indian Forest Officer in Srinagar, Mehvish is the youngest in her family. She graduated in Computer Science Engineering from SSM College of Engineering and Technology in the Pattan area of Baramulla district in North Kashmir. Technology often fascinated Mehvish ever since her childhood. She received a computer from her parents when she was seven years old and her connection with technology grew with her growing years. 

"I still remember how excited I was when my parents got me a computer when I was in grade seven. I tinkered with the hardware and software until I knew it all in and out,” she recollects. 

The Valley's Most-troubled Problem: 

People in Kashmir found it very difficult to pull up the details of essential services like the contact information of the government offices, NGOs, ambulances, educational institutions etc. While most of the other Indian cities have online directories like Yellow Pages etc., Kashmiris don't have any such facilities. “Unfortunately, it is a way of life here — so often, when I need a contact detail, and if I don’t have access to the specific website, I find myself asking my friends, who in turn get in touch with their friends for help. Can you imagine the time lost?" she says. Being tech-savvy, she wanted to do something to solve this problem. An incident in which she had to struggle to pull up the contact details of an educational institution also served as fuel to quickly address this concern and help the locals to find accessibility to essential services without any time-lapse. But what's the solution? She decided to develop an app that lists all the details of services with just a click. When the desire is a heartful, things automatically fall into place. While she was browsing Facebook one day, she came across an advertisement about Android App development training. She pursued the course in the year 2013 and as a part of it, students are supposed to independently develop an App. After two weeks of hard work, Mehvish developed 'Dial Kashmir’ becoming the first Kashmiri to develop an Android App.

Dial Kashmir: 

Dial Kashmir is an android app that lists over 500 contacts including the addresses, email ids and phone numbers of various government departments and private offices and other essential services. Mehvish's app is categorised into Essential Services and Commercial Services. While essential services include the details of hospitals, fire brigades, ambulances, newspapers, educational institutions, grievance cells and the Municipal Corporation etc, commercial services list the contact information of hotels, houseboats, Kashmiri products, pharmacies, NGOs, real estate organizations, tour and travel companies and the traditional Kashmiri cooks, etc. More categories like the information about courier services, journalists, lawyers, doctors, BPOs, construction companies, etc were added later. Additional features like ‘Find Pin code’, ‘Railway timings’, ‘list of holidays’, ‘Muslim Prayer timings’, 'Nearest Bank or ATM' and much more are also found in this 3.2 MB App. The app has got more than 50,000 downloads from the play store with a rating of 4.3. 

Challenges Faced:

Designing the app with the idea outlined in the mind is easy but developing it in a real-time scenario gave lemons to Mehvish. Yet, she didn't give up. Gathering data from government agencies and websites stood as a major problem. The government websites in most cases haven't even given the right pin codes. Mehvish took the help of friends and acquaintances to find the right contact details of various services. 

“When I was working on compiling the pin codes of various areas in Kashmir, I realised that the government website had them all wrong. So I had to reach out to friends and acquaintances on social media to help me out.” She shared. However, Mehvish designed the app pulling up the right information and it was ready just within two weeks. 

Success In Favour Of the Hardwork: 

Mehvish's work was recognised when she received the Femina Women's Awards under the category of Online Influencer in the year 2014. The same year, she also received the Space Communications Award and the ALL Grassroots Women Achievers Award. 2016 saw her receiving The Sunday Standard Devi Awards. In the year 2018, she received the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar through the Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind. 

When you don't like the way people are suffering in your hometown or village or nation, stay back and work for the betterment. Mere cribbing about lack of facilities and dumping the whole fault on the government is nothing less than useless. Stay back, work for your land, improve its order and remember that your land is YOU and the people are YOURS.

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