IIITM-K team bags NITI Aayog prize at international blockchain hackathon

A team of research students from the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K) brought laurels to their institution by bagging the prestigious NITI Aayog prize in the inaugural edition of the Proffer Hackathon held at IIT, New Delhi.

The international blockchain hackathon was jointly organised by NITI Aayog, the policy think tank of  Government of India, and Harvard-based blockchain startup Proffer from November 10 to 13.

The IIITM-K team, comprising of Nikhil V. Chandran, Adarsh S and Anoop V.S. of the Data Engineering Lab mentored by D. Asharaf. S, emerged as the winners in the India Chain category. Their award-winning entry was AgroChain, a blockchain-based transparent marketplace where farmers and consumers can implement a co-operative farming method.

In AgroChain, farmers can list the potential crops and the expected yield on their farm on the distributed public ledger. The consumers can view the details and check for the farmer’s credibility based on the previous cultivation and supply. This creates a transparent and tamper-proof digital market platform for farm products.

Such a system can also facilitate an agreement between the farmer and the consumer.  It will help the consumer to fund individual crops or a field and can acquire the yield from the farm or the profit percentage of its market value. There will be a rating mechanism to build the credibility of farmer and consumer based on the previous experiences in the agro market.

More than 1,900 students and young professionals from 28 countries signed up to participate in-person and remotely in the event.

Microsoft, IBM, Accel, Coinbase, and Amazon AWS sponsored $17,000 in prizes for the top five blockchain-based applications addressing problems in government/enterprise infrastructure, finance, energy markets, supply chain, decentralized Aadhaar identities and information exchange, among others.

A panel of judges from Coinbase, IBM, Microsoft, Harvard, BoostVC, and Government of India assessed the projects. About 93 participants from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, IITs and top engineering institutions around the world submitted projects.  The objective of the hackathon was to look beyond currency use cases to see how blockchain technology can make a difference to governments, economies, businesses and individuals.

ICFOSS to host 6th triennial international conference on free software in Dec

Chief Minister launches logo and website of “Swatantra 2017”

ഇൻറർനാഷണൽ സെൻറർ ഫോർ ഫ്രീ ആൻഡ് ഓപ്പൺ സോഫ്റ്റ് വെയർ (ഇക് ഫോസ്) തിരുവനന്തപുരത്ത് സംഘടിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ഫ്രീ സോഫ്റ്റ് വെയർ സമ്മേളനമായ സ്വതന്ത്ര-2017 ൻറെ ഔദ്യോഗിക ലോഗോയും വെബ് സൈറ്റും മുഖ്യമന്ത്രി പിണറായി വിജയൻ പ്രകാശനം ചെയ്യുന്നു. ഐടി സെക്രട്ടറി എം.ശിവശങ്കർ, ഇക് ഫോസ് ഡയറക്ടർ ഡോ. ജയശങ്കർ പ്രസാദ് എന്നിവർ സമീപം​.

After three years, the free software community in Kerala will once again come together for deliberations on a range of topics related to free software and hardware at a conference organized by the International Centre for Free and Open Software (ICFOSS), under the IT Dept of Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram on December 20-21.

Titled ‘Swatantra-2017’, the conference will have more than 25 speakers and will focus on Assistive Technology, art and design, and sectors such as healthcare and education.

With the new edition of Swatantra, the government is underscoring its commitment to free software and reasserting the state’s leadership in the segment.

At the Kerala Secretariat today Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan launched the official logo and website of ‘Swatantra 2017’ (swatantra.net.in ). Present at the launch were Mr Sivasankar IAS, Secretary IT, and Dr Jayasankar Prasad, Director ICFOSS. 

Swatantra is organized every three years by the ICFOSS, an autonomous organization set up by the Government of Kerala to popularize FOSS and strengthen FOSS adoption in the region.

Kerala government has been a pioneer in the use of free and open source software in India and has delegated ICFOSS to collaborate with academia, industry, governments and FOSS communities nationally and globally to make the digital world accessible to more people.

Swatantra 2017 will discuss in detail emerging technologies in FOSS, FOSS and development, FOSS experience in E-Gov, free software for digital art, gender and free software. Swatantra conference series is unique in bringing social and technological aspects together.

Ms Karen Sandler, the Director of Software Freedom Conservancy, will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Apart from her, many free software leaders from across the world will address the conference.

The workshops are designed to help improve the skills of participants in the FOSS domain. Sessions related to FOSS licensing will provide insights on how to use FOSS under the proper legal framework.

As part of the conference, an online “treasure hunt” game has been launched. The game, based on various topics and personalities in free software, challenges participants on their knowledge of free software and informs participants of free software history and events.

The game, which has been well received, has more than 800 participants now. More than 50,000 attempts were made to answer the questions. The game is available at


Dr. R.K. Vats appointed as the new HLL C&MD

Dr. Rakesh Kumar Vats, I.A.S, Additional Secretary and Director General (DG) of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) has taken charge as the Chairman and Managing Director (C&MD) of HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL), PSE under Union Health Ministry.

He has served as Joint Secretary & Financial Advisor, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation; Director, National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd; Director, Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd; and Director, Hindustan Prefab Limited.

HLL, a Mini Ratna PSU under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has a diverse portfolio of products, including contraceptives, pharmaceuticals and personal hygiene and hospital products, besides diagnostic services.

Currently, the HLL group consists of seven entities: the parent company HLL Lifecare Ltd; HLL Biotech Ltd. (HBL); HLL Infra Tech Services Ltd (HITES); HLL Medipark Ltd. (HML); LifeSpring Hospitals; Goa Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Limited (GAPL); Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT); and HLL Management Academy (HMA).