Diving into the World of Software Development
Vocal for Local: IT Entrepreneurship
Kashmir Images started an initiative, as part of India’s Vocal for Local campaign, of collecting inspirational stories from across Jammu and Kashmir, bringing to the readers fresh perspectives about solo entrepreneurship – successful only when practiced with persistence and conformed with patience.
Adeela Hameed, as the ground reporter and interviewer with Kashmir Images for this project, takes us to a young man from the Valley who has carved a name for himself in the rigorous sector of web application development.
Mr. Uzair Hussain gained repute as the team leader of the innovative research group which invented a software to assuage the problem of pollution in Kashmir. The team gained prestigious mention in ATAL (Government of India’s think-tank), and was the reason DPS Srinagar – from where the group worked – is the only school in the Valley which has acquired an ATAL Tinkering Lab – an incubation center for ingenious science projects. Subsequently, Uzair was named an official ATAL mentor for Kashmir. Amidst the current pandemic, he is also credited with developing a J&K-centered COVID-19 tracking website (https://jkcov.pw) to counter panic created due to misinformation.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q.1. IT being a vast enterprise, people do tend to club every aspect together, which doesn’t quite do justice to the field. To forgo this oversimplification, tell us about your niche in this sector?
Although I consider myself an end-to-end software developer, my niche in the sector is website and web application development.
Q.2. How did you start working with web design? Are you currently pursuing a professional degree in the subject?
I have been passionate about technology ever since I was a child but it was in school where I was first exposed to programming in general. Later, when I started pursuing this business professionally, I realized that web development is more in-demand than other areas of software development. So, over the years, web development became my primary thing.
Yes, I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering.
Q.3. I believe IT is a rigorous field to master. Would you share challenges faced over the years?
I agree. But, with the right resources, guidance, and exposure, it is completely achievable to make a career in the field. The biggest challenge that I personally faced over the years (and continue to face to this day) is the constant shutting down of internet services in Kashmir. It is almost impossible to run a business, especially a software business, in a place with unreliable internet. I am absolutely certain that every software developer based in Kashmir will quote this problem as their biggest as well.
Q.4. Being an alumnus of DPS Srinagar, you must have been exposed to a plethora of opportunities. How has school influenced your work and aim?
As I mentioned earlier, I was first exposed to programming in school. I also highlighted the essentiality of the right resources, guidance, and exposure at the right time. At DPS Srinagar, I was lucky to have it all.
The motto of my Alma mater is ‘service before self’. I think I will always continue to impart this thought in my personal and professional goals.
Q.5. What was your family’s stance on the work you do? You would have supporters from among your friends and teachers too, right?
My family, friends, and teachers have always been my constant pillars of support and I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have them. I don’t think it would’ve been possible without their unending encouragement.
Q.6. I read your mention in Government of India’s think-tank, ATAL. Your team gained quite a good reputation because of which DPS Srinagar became the only school in the Valley to have its own ATAL Tinkering Lab. What are your thoughts about that?
The main focus of my team was to build a solution to alleviate the problem of pollution and we managed to develop a product that did exactly that. I think our project is a good example of how technology is not something abstract but a great tool to solve real world problems and improve the lives of everyday people.
Q.7. What, as a developer, are your observations about the IT sector in the Valley?
Kashmir is an uncharted market. We are yet to undergo a full-fledged ‘digitization’ process, unlike other regions where opportunities have been seized and there’s not much to do. That, in a way, is a good thing. I believe that Kashmir can go through that process and plenty of opportunities can be created but, the problem is that we lack the stability needed for tech start-ups to flourish. We have the talent and the market, but our engineers are leaving because they just cannot work in these conditions. Our customers are afraid to adopt modern technological solutions as they cannot afford to have their respective businesses completely crippled when the internet is shut. I hope things change in the future.
Q.8. Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
I see myself leading my own brand, working on challenging projects with a wider and more diverse range of organizations, and making the world a better place with technology.
(Mr. Uzair Hussain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)