Societies are repositories of knowledge. More often than not, the solutions for most of the challenges we face as a community or society continue to exist scattered across such repositories. What if a platform can bridge this knowledge gap, and enable individuals to use their collective knowledge and skills to solve some of the pressing issues we face as a society. Blockathon for Change, an initiative of CPPR, envisaged and accomplished exactly that.

Months before, when the US Consulate General, Chennai, approached CPPR with the idea of a hackathon to solve migrant labour issues using blockchain technology, the air was full of excitement. Being a long-time partner of CPPR, the US Consulate had CPPR in complete confidence of creating a platform, where one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century meets one of the most critical issues societies are facing globally. The fact that very few such attempts have been made before breath new energy into the initiative. At a time when blockchain technology finds use in the theatre of governance globally, CPPR felt that the merit of the idea is not only in its novelty but also in its efficacy.

Having done extensive studies on interstate migrant labour issues, subject matter experts at CPPR put together a set of challenges faced by migrant labourer communities in Kerala that would then become the problem statements for participants to solve at Blockathon for Change. Despite blockchain being a relatively new technology and migrant labour issues being a complex and extensive subject, over a hundred proposals from individuals across South India were received. The social media buzz and the wide media attention CPPR received in the run up to the hackathon kept up the motivation.

Hackathon media

After two rigorous phases of evaluation of the applications and proposals, 10 teams made it to the final phase of the hackathon. The stage was set on December 21 and 22 at the Maker Village, Kochi, for the selected teams to present their solutions before the jury panel. Blockathon for Change kicked off with a grand inauguration ceremony attended by notable dignitaries.

“Though we are growing, there is a vast segment of population left behind. As a society we need to put efforts to reduce the divide,” said K Mohammed Y Safirulla IAS (District Collector, Ernakulam), while inaugurating the hackathon. Alexis S Wolff (Spokesperson, US Consulate General) and D Dhanuraj (Chairman, CPPR) made key remarks at the inauguration. While the mentoring session by Dr Martin Patrick (Chief Economist, CPPR) elaborated on the various challenges interstate migrant labourers face in India, Dr Dilip Krishnaswamy (IBM Research Labs, Bengaluru) outlined the immense possibilities for blockchain in governance platforms. Rajesh Nair (Ernst & Young) noted how entrepreneurs worldwide are pursuing opportunities and venues in blockchain.

Over the course of two days, the teams showcased tremendous talent and creativity in their solutions. The presentations and demos were followed by Q&A sessions with the audience. The intense competition ended with the jury panel declaring Team Veraz as the winners of the top prize. Team Infillcube and Team Iridescent won the second and third positions.

“Migrant labour is an issue that demands immediate attention. We should innovate and build a system in place to address their issues and take care of their security and welfare,” said P Vijayan IPS (Inspector General, Ernakulam Range) before he gave away the prize to the winners. Alexis S Wolff and Prasad Balakrishnan (CEO, Maker Village) gave the concluding remarks. “The future of this country is in the hands of innovators like you,” noted D Dhanuraj at the valedictory session.

Blockathon for Change heralds a new era, where CPPR incorporates advanced, effective and relevant technologies into public policy.

Few blogs written by CPPR interns who attended the Blockathon for Change hackathon

Migrant labour issue get noticed in Blockathon by Anusha Sooriyan Interning at CPPR and Pursuing Masters in Politics and International Relations

Blockchain technology: An ice breaker for migrant workers by Ashamary Alexander Interning at CPPR and Pursuing Masters in Urban Development And Management

Gods own country gives technological solution for Migrant labourers by Mathews Raju Interning at CPPR and Pursuing Bachelors in Technology

CPPR’s social media presence on Blockathon makes a mark! by Shonit Nayan Interning at CPPR and is Pursuing Masters in Public Administration

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