The event was held during August 28-30 through the virtual platform “zoom”. Of the remaining members of the team, one was from the US and the rest from India.
The team bagged a cash prize of $500 and assistance from MIT for developing their innovative plan to address mental health issues in rural areas of India, including Assam ,during and post the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme was organized to find solutions of Covid related problems especially in context of India. The event was supported by Atal Innovation Mission under Niti Ayog, government of India.
“On day 1, those participants who have a unique idea or proposal to solve a particular problem are allowed to pitch their idea via zoom platform within 90 seconds. Other participants who have similar idea or are interested to work with the presenter can form a team,” said 32-year-old Gurung.
“My hometown is a rural area in Sonitpur district, and I have observed that mental health issues go untreated in rural areas. Visiting a doctor for psychological issues is a taboo in villages. People in rural areas are either unaware or hesitant to communicate with professionals for help related to mental health. I, along with my team, have prepared a plan to reduce the gap between mental health professionals and rural India for a better tomorrow, in terms of mental health,” he said on the solution given by them.
The team had to work on the proposal for 48 hours and try to provide a 360-degree solution for the problem introduced in the 90 seconds pitch. On the last day, each team got three minutes to present their solution before judges from all across the globe, selected by MIT COVID19 challenge organizers.
Gurung, who hails from Sonaipam village in Sonitpur is currently pursuing his Ph.D. from the Department of Business Administration Tezpur University. He is also serving as an Assistant Professor in CHRIST Deemed to be University, Bengaluru. He led the team named ‘Mind and Health Innovations (M.A.H.I.)’ to victory in track H: Providing Mental Health Support Resources during the hackathon. Gurung is known to be the first person from the state to have won MIT COVID19 challenges. Previously, he was also a member of the winning team ‘UNIFY’ of track C: ‘Growing up and Educating in the New Normal’ during ‘MIT COVID19 challenge: Beat the pandemic-II’ event.
MIT, USA has been organizing a series of international virtual hackathons, also known as MIT COVID19 challenges. In this hackathons, people are encouraged to participate and find solutions for various problems related to Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 problems are listed as tracks such as health, education and economy. People can apply for any track of their interest, but the final selection of track for each participant is done by the MIT Covid-19 hackathon organizers. After being selected as a participant under a track, they need to form teams based on their interest. Participants are from all across the globe and ranges in their expertise and profession.