It was a burning desire to become the ‘first me’ and not the ‘second someone’ that made the then 23-year-old Mehvish Mushtaq Hakak develop the first app in the picturesque Kashmir Valley in the year 2013.
Buoyed by great family support, Mehvish did the unthinkable for a young girl living in Kashmir. “They were always supportive of my work and egged me on to chase my passion – as a result the app Dial Kashmir was born,” says Mehvish. As she says, it’s a great feeling to be the first woman app developer in Kashmir.
Born and brought up in Srinagar, technology fascinated Mehvish from a very young age. A Computer Science engineer, she is the youngest in her family of four. Her father is a retired Indian Forest Service officer while her mother is a homemaker. Her elder brother too has done his engineering followed by an MBA and currently works in Delhi.
So what is her app all about?
“Finding contact details of any essential service was a hard task and I decided that if I were to make something, it was only fitting to make something like a database or virtual yellow pages,” says Mehvish.
Finding contacts at the right time has always been a tough task for people in the Valley. “I remember once I had to call my cousin’s school for something important but couldn’t find contact details. I knew that everyone faced such problems in connecting to various services and that’s how the idea came about,” says Mehvish.
In the winter of 2013, she did an online course on android application development. As part of the course, the students were required to develop an app on their own. So Dial Kashmir happened as part of that project. It took about two weeks for Mehvish to develop the first version.
“The tricky part was finding the numbers and details of the services I was putting in my app. I am not sure if it was an inspiration but what motivated me was the need of an App exclusively for the use of people living in Kashmir,” says Mehvish. At times, the official sites were non-operational and at other times, there was no number to be found at all.
The core service provided by Dial Kashmir is information. Dial Kashmir app essentially consists of a directory feature which provides phone numbers, e-mail ids and addresses of essential and commercial services in Kashmir. In addition to directory feature, it also has other features like ‘Find Pin code’, ‘Railway timings’, ‘list of holidays’, ‘Muslim Prayer timings’ etc to name a few.
The usefulness of the app
After she launched the app, a lot of people found it useful. “Once I came to know that an animal had died in a certain neighborhood and one of the residents was able to get hold of the municipal authorities through the app. When things like this happen, it feels good.
Also, people check train timings and Prayer timings on the App, it feels nice to help people in little ways,” says the young app developer.
Kashmir and the app
The Valley is surely evolving with time. Mehvish says that except for the conflict and tension that prevails there, Kashmir is like any other place. “I would say not everything is picture perfect here but people are picking up pieces and moving towards a better future,” says this young entrepreneur. With the changing times, technology has invaded people’s lives in a big way. Compared to a handful of people developing apps earlier, many have come forward now to make use of technology to help people.
Mehvish intends to add new services and features to her app as she goes along. Watching movies, daily soaps and social networking are some of her hobbies, which she pursues whenever she gets the time.