Young & happening

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Young & happening

Sunday, 18 July 2021 | Shalini Saksena

Young & happening

Today’s young brigade are go-getters and looking for avenues that can help the community to better their lives. SHALINI SAKSENA caught up with three such teenagers who are entrepreneurs-in-the-making

An app to serve community

SAKSHAM AGARWAL

13 YEARS OLD

Micro-finance app

Today, learning is not just limited to what is being taught in schools. Kids these days want to go beyond what is taught in the curriculum. They want to explore the world. Since the Internet has made this easy, everything is now available at a click of a mouse.

It is not surprising that children from across the country are testing their boundaries and coming out at the top. Meet 13-year-old Saksham Agarwal from Sarangi, a small village in Madhya Pradesh

The Class IX student of Emerald Junior College has developed a web-based micro-finance app that can help small business owners, and farmers in his village to calculate EMIs and access facilities like loans.

Agarwal who learnt coding from WhiteHat Jr after his parents saw an advertisement tells you that people in his village are always looking for small loans to tide them over.

“In my village when a money lender gives loans to people, he always ends up charging more than what is due. People here are not so educated that they can calculate the exact amount due. Also, most people don’t keep a record of what they have paid and how much they have paid. hence, the idea of this app came up,” Agarwal tells you who loves Maths.

He tells you that his family owns a grocery store and a motorbike showroom. “People who come here always lament about the fact that they are paying a huge EMI. These borrowers do not understand the complexity of when to pay or how much to pay back on the loan they’re availing. My paternal uncle who manages the showroom then tells them that they are being overcharged. I knew there was a gap here that needed to be addressed. When I took these classes I knew that I wanted to help the people in my village,” Agarwal says.

And this is where his web-based app Shree Finance comes in. The aim’s to resolve the problems that people face when it comes to taking a loan. However, the app is still undergoing modifications since Agarwal wants the app to function in a manner that can help both — those who want to lend and those who want to avail of the loan.

The app has interesting features. It can connect a small loan borrower to a lender via a chat option. It stores lender and borrower profiles and details of the amount borrowed, period and rate of monthly payments. It allows users to track their loans and reminds them about EMIs over chat. The built-in easy-to-use monthly payment calculator is another feature that a borrower can use to calculate the EMI per month for a given amount, the loan rate and the loan period.

However, it was not an easy task. First, Agarwal had to make a plan in which each feature that the app had to have chalked out. “My mentor then taught me about firebase authentication. Some of the problems that came up were errors that I couldn’t understand like how to connect the data to firebase; I was having issues there, it was unable to store the data I was feeding. I was told that I needed to make a separate ID and then connect,” Agarwal explains.

The good thing is that the app is easy to use. One has to first download the app. There are two sections here — if he is an investor, he goes to the investor section and if a borrower he goes to the that section. The person then has to sign up. There is a loan calculator; the borrower has to fill in the details and the ID will be added ad he will know all the details related to the loan amount that he wants to avail,” Agarwal says.

For now, Agarwal is the only one from his village who has learnt coding. His friends now want to join. His future plans include developing another app that will help keep track of the attendance that is taken on a register.

Play to beat COVID-19

ABHINAV RANJITH DAS 14 YEARS OLD

WEB-BASED GAME: GO CORONA GO

The present pandemic has made everyone — from adults to kids — to come up with innovative ways to keep safe or what one should know about the virus. Keeping this in mind, a 14-year-old creates engaging web-game Go Corona Go. The focus of the game is to highlight the importance of wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

The threat of the third wave looms large and hangs like a Damocles Sword over our heads. At such a time, it is important to follow all the COVID-19 protocol  — wearing a mask when out of the home, maintaining social distancing and washing hands or sanitising them regularly.

To ensure that people, especially kids understand the importance of wearing a mask, 14-year-old WhiteHat Jr student from Bengaluru, Abhinav Ranjith Das devised this game.

The Class X student of Presidency School Bangalore North tells you that the aim of the game is to make people realise how necessary it is to continue to wear masks and those who are illegible, to get vaccinated.

The game, with its rich animation, lively music and interesting tasks, educates players about taking all precautions as they try to beat the virus. It has three levels. The player has to jump over hurdles, including the virus itself, in order to get access to safety equipment like masks and PPE kits to defeat it. The objective of the game is to reach the final level. The player here is rewarded with COVID-19 vaccine in the virtual world.

“When the lockdown happened I noticed that despite the Government telling people to wear masks and maintain social distance, there were many who were flouting the COVID protocol. This is when I came up with the idea to make a game — it is entertaining, a good way to pass time and a way to educate people how important it is to wear masks and now that the vaccine is out, to get vaccinated as well,” Das says who is from Kerala but born and brought up in Bengaluru.

With nothing to do and being cooped up at home for days on end, Das decided to take the advice of his friends who told him that coding was interesting. In the demo class he was shown a T-Rex game. That had him hooked. To begin with he made small games to finally the T-Rex game and then came the Go Corona Go game, the 2D game. Using unity platform and coding, he converted this into a 3D game. Since he had never worked on the unity platform, a video was shared with him that helped him understand the basics and then his mentor helped him whenever he got stuck.

There were, of course, challenges. “I was never spoon-fed. Whenever I would get stuck, my mentor would help me. The animation of the character proved to be an issue, making the character collide with the obstacles was another issue that needed to be dealt with. Sometimes the game would not detect these and the getting the animation was tricky too,” Das says. He tells you that till now he has taken 84 classes over a period of eight months.

Das doesn’t agree that games are only played by young people. “Even older people can play this. Yes, they may face problems initially but once they get the hang of how and when to press the button — not too soon or too late — they can easily clear all the three levels. My parents have played the game. To begin with, they were unable to click the button fast enough. But once they had tried it a couple of times, they are pros at it now. However, the game is for young kids who still don’t understand the need to wear mask or maintain distance,” Das tells you.

Das  hopes to develop more games and is currently working on creating a car racing game and a Rubik’s cube game as well. He plans to study Computer Science and wants to go abroad to pursue higher education.

‘I wanted to ease my father’s work on our farmland’

YOG SURYAKANT PANJARALE15 YEARS OLD

App to help farmers manage equipment remotely

Agriculture is still a major occupation in our country. It is not surprising then that there should be an ease of working on the land. But it is if it involves a 15-year-old. Yog Suryakant Panjarale has created an app that can help farmers manage equipment remotely like when to irrigate the fields.

Panjarale, a Class X student of P G Public School in Nandurbar region of Maharashtra, tells you that he got interested in coding when the first lockdown happened in 2020. With nothing to do, he joined the classes and since then there has been no looking back.

“It was very boring to just sit at home and waste time. I came to know about Whitehat Jr classes and decided to join. I started in April,” Panjarale recalls.

The idea of the app came after he observed his father, a doctor by profession but a farmer at heart, go to the farm at odd hours to turn-on or turn-off the water motor on the tube-well that was located at their farm 5 km away from the house.

“Pandemic or no pandemic, rain or no rain, my father would have to go to turn on and off the motor, even at odd hours. The electricity in our region is a bit erratic. My father didn’t have a fixed time to go and switch on or off the motor. However, the fields need to be irrigated,” Panjarale explains who has till now attended 132 classes.

Wanting to ease his father’s burden to go off to the field even in the middle of the night, he started working on an IoT based application which could help farmers manage farm equipment from home. This app would solve the problem of water-wastage, a scarce natural resource, at the same time bring down the electricity bill.

“There were times when the motor would be turned on at night and it would keep running through the night with nobody going to switch it off. The was so much wastage of water and electricity. The concept of IoT is being embraced worldwide. It is time that the farming community in our country benefited from the same as well.

“The smile that I saw on my father's face when I showed him the fully working app was priceless. He was so happy. It was well worth all the hours and months that I spent on making it. I feel special to have contributed to make his life simpler in my own small way,” Panjarale tells you.

Before he joined coding classes, Panjarale had taken classes where he learnt all there was to know about electronic devices. This helped him not only make the app but also the device.

“This device controls the motor that is at the farm; the app controls this device remotely. One can schedule the timing of when to switch on the motor and switch it off. The device is attached to the motor starter and connected to the Internet. All one has to do is feed in the timing according to the electricity schedule or one’s convenience for an entire week. At the feed in time, the motor will start and it will automatically switch off at the time fed in switch off time in the app. It is as simple as that,” Panjarale tells you.

There were of course, some challenges. To begin with, Panjarale used Wi-Fi but this posed some problems so after four months, he connected the device to the GSM network and since then it has been working beautifully at our farm. While the app and the device are working, it is at the prototype stage.

“I am still working at it to improve its working. Though it is installed at our farm, sometimes issues crop up like the network; this affects the working of the app. If there is no electricity, then there is a problem. To address this, the device is battery operated which has a life of three days. This battery can self-charge. But if there is no electricity, then it causes problems,” Panjarale says.

He doesn't want to stop here. He plans to keep on exploring the world of coding further to create more such interesting solutions for real life problems.

“For now I am concentrating on my Class X but I do plan to start my own business — have a start-up in the near future that can help people deal with daily problems and ease their lives,” Panjarale says.

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