India’s strength is in its diversity. But its adversity lies in the constant state of conflict it’s stuck in. For reasons of extreme poverty, unemployment, lack of education, difference of ideologies, and religious fanaticism, there have always been people who have been marginalised and made vulnerable.
And it is the same vulnerable minds who are influenced into joining groups that spread hatred and conduct crimes against humanity to divide people and societies even further.
In an effort to make the world a better place and reduce the divisiveness, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook came together to conduct a series of eight hackathons – the Digital Masala Challenge – across the country.
The fifth edition of the challenge was organised in Jammu and saw participants travelling for over 24 hours to reach the venue. It had teams from Palakkad, Pune, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir. The participants were from the NSS College of Engineering, Palakkad, Army Institute of Technology, Pune, Apeejay Stya University Gurgaon, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Kashmir University and the University of Jammu.
The teams were mostly comprised from Jammu. The participants came up with a mix of ideas, ranging from digital campaigns to offline support groups and technical solutions.
While a team of students from the Apeejay Stya University proposed a social media campaign (called #TalkToUs) to make the issue of countering violent extremism a topic for national conversation among young people, students from the University of Kashmir suggested opening up legal aid clinics across colleges in Kashmir to sensitise radicalised youths and other vulnerable youths on crisis response and the cyber laws.
The winning team – Troy from the Army Institute of Technology – looked at another crucial point of a tool that alerts the parents of children if they are at risk of being radicalised, by monitoring the users’ social media feed.