Sleep deprived and shivering due to the cold, yet excited we were en-route Ashoka University located in Sonepat, Haryana which is a private, non-profit university offering its students a multidisciplinary liberal education.
The Safarians, crew and the students of Young India Fellowship (YIF) program under Ashoka took turns to introduce themselves in the conference room. Beginning with the session, we started by discussing the similarities and differences between India and South Africa, its market, economy and society and were briefed about the Smart Cities Project currently undertaken by the government in India.
The task for the YIF students and Safarians alike was to team up and come up with ideas to solve any existing problem(s) using technology which will benefit both government and citizens. Divided into five teams of three members, they were given around an hour to first, choose one out of four themes – Education, Healthcare, Transportation and Infrastructure. Second, decide whether to be completely innovative or improve on some existing technology. Third, once done with the discussion they had to present and explain their ideas.
The team members worked in harmony, were involved in the task wholeheartedly and took it as a challenge. They had some great ideas like using drones to deliver healthcare and medical goods instantly to people who are in dire need; democratization of information to achieve accountable and inclusive governance; using holograms in the education sector by which intellectuals across the world can, in real time, take classes happening in different parts of the world that they may otherwise not have access to, etc.
Vanita Shastri, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Ashoka University, was invited to witness the final presentation of ideas by the teams. She commented, “It was good! I see they have great ideas, energy and passion in them!”. She spoke about the India-South Africa connection since the colonial times and that such programs (like that of Startup Safari’s) are bringing us closer by the day and enhancing the relations.
After refreshments and a tour of the beautifully constructed campus, we left for an event organised by Mash Project at a co-working space called Innov8, located in Connaught Place. Just like most other co-working spaces, this one was set up in an attractive manner. The sole purpose of this event was to meet and network with a myriad entrepreneurs having or working on business ideas of their own. It was a nice evening, talking to aspiring and passionate business people, learning how far ahead the entrepreneurship field has made its way and how little we will always know because it constantly expands by the day.