“Let’s do something about it!” There’s no waiting around for someone else to fix things for these guys, they’re taking matters in their own hands — from skiing to raise money for the leprosy-afflicted to rewriting an unbiased history of India and Pakistan; recycling tyres and pushing solar energy to solutions for the hearing impaired and making earthquake relief count. Motherland picks out a bunch of promising superheroes from across the country, determined to light up the world we live in.
Even our beloved ministers, conveniently hard of hearing at the best of times, couldn’t ignore the alarm bells raised by the elevated pollution levels in New Delhi. Along with the winter, the accompanying smog, respiratory issues, and frantic plans for New Year’s Eve came the new odd-even rule, imposed as a 15-day trial by Delhi’s Chief Minister for the first fortnight of 2016. Widespread hysteria and panic was the default mode of the city’s residents preceding the directive, and feverish last-minute enquiries about each other’s number plates became the order of the day.
Not Akshat Mittal, though. The 13-year old student was busy devising and setting up a carpooling website, www.odd-even.com. He formulated the idea, designed the website, and launched it, all by himself, and in only three weeks, and the site went live on 20 December, last year.
“You type in relevant details such as your name, age, whether your car has an odd number plate or an even one, your pick-point up, destination, and the time you want to leave. Once all this is provided, you click on the ‘search’ button, and a list of people with similar preferences will show up on the screen. You can pick whoever you like and coordinate with them directly,” explains Mittal. Since the website became active, he claims “around 30,000 are using it.” The main objective, he adds, is to encourage people to carpool, even if the government decides not to extend the rule beyond 15 January.
He has also taken due safety precautions, traditionally a major concern in the capital: “I have given other options to take care of the security aspect. For example, you can add your gender and choose to travel with people in a particular age bracket. Also, there is an option to put in your Aadhar card and company details. There is another filter that slots people according to their companies. For instance, if I am working at Wipro, [using that filter] only other employees of Wipro will show up.”
Mittal’s endeavours could potentially assist in reducing pollution levels in the city. Another big problem here, he feels, is poverty. “I still don’t have a solution for that, but I’m thinking about it.”