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Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Karl Mehta launches initiative to solve developing world public service problems

WASHINGTON: An Indian American Silicon Valley entrepreneur has launched a unique initiative designed to get techies to volunteer their time to develop software and applications that will benefit people in Indiaand other developing countries.

The initiative dubbed "Code for India" was launched yesterday by Silicon Valley technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist 
Karl Mehta.

"As a firm believer in the power of crowd sourced and open sourced technology, we have created Code For India to provide tools to fight day-to-day public service issues," Mehta told reporters.

"Code For India's use of technology will promote transparency, participation and efficiency in the way local people can voice their concern and find solutions," he said.

"The transformative power of technology will aid India -- and other developing countries facing similar problems," said Mehta at the launch of Code For India, a non-profit organisation based in 
Mountain View, California.

Though starting small, Mehta has huge ambitions. His audacious goal is to get a million programmers across the globe to donate their time.

For now, Code for India has a few hundred engineers from Mehta's personal network here, programmers from companies such as 
Google, Microsoft and Visa.

However, Mehta sees a huge base of potential volunteers from India itself. The top 10 software outsourcing firms, Mehta said, employ a few million programmers.

"The goal is to have a team of million software engineers to develop 
softwares for India," Mehta said in response to a question, hoping that he would soon achieve the targets, given the thousands of requests he has been receiving from Indian techies after it was formally launched on Thursday.

Vijay Pande of Stanford University, Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education and Vish Mishra, Venture Director at Clearstone and mentor to 'The Hive' and 'The Fabric' have joined the Advisory Board.

"Code for India is a unique and commendable initiative whereby the sharpest of computing minds can apply themselves to altruistic causes. TiE Delhi NCR are proud to be associated with the programme," said 
Deep Kalra, President of TiE-New Delhi.

Mehta said the team would volunteer eight hours of software development per month to develop softwares worth $8-10 billions per annum.

"No amount of check donated by any rich people, would be able to match this massive volunteer effort to address the issues of concern to India through the power of software. 'Think Local, Hack Global' is the mantra for Code For India engineers who are building apps that empower marginalised communities with technology-based solutions to solve public service problems," he said.