Change Agents

Challenging the constrains of conventional work paradigms, a group of young techies from Srinagar endeavor to redefine the work culture by exploring Open source technologies in Kashmir. Abdul Wajid reports.

Open Source SrinagarEvery Sunday young boys and girls from Srinagar get together at a recently launched technical community to provide free teaching programs to students regarding various open source technologies.

Open Source Srinagar (OSS) is a collaborative work of some passionate techies from various parts of Srinagar.

They invite interested developers to share their experiences and to let others have a better understanding of how computers and web works. There aim, they say, is to polish the technical knowhow of Kashmiri students.

Aliya Khan, the only female member of OSS, is a student of MCA from Kashmir University and is the leading person at Axelerant Kashmir. After completing her BCA, she worked as a web developer outside Kashmir for four years. “I gained experience outside valley but working there was uncomfortable. So I came back and started working from home which is the best part of open source technologies,” said Aliya. She believes the youth in Kashmir are less aware of the potential of internet technologies, mainly the Open source. “I want to make people aware of the real potential of open source technologies.”

Open Source has always been a top priority of eminent technocrats and has been a success story behind top internet brands like Ubuntu, WordPress, Apache, MySQL, Linux, Firefox, Apache and the well-known Android.

The focus of OSS is to aware people about the importance of open source and its proper usage. “We provide free coaching that includes Drupal trainings and Hackathons where we mentor the young techies. We arrange a reunion on every Saturday and Sunday where anyone interested is welcome to join us,” says Aliya.

Young people from Srinagar being trained at a bootcamp at Open Source Srinagar
Young people from Srinagar being trained at a bootcamp at Open Source Srinagar

Applied Informatics (AI) is the second company that has joined the Axelerant to initiate the OSS. Leading the team of AI, Aamir Zaragar, a BCA graduate is happy to see the response at OSS. “I started working on meager stipend three years back but I kept patience and today I am leading a company in Kashmir while teaching others as well. It’s like a dream come true for me,” says Aamir.

He says there is confusion in our society regarding open source. It is usually believed that Open source is free and does not have licensing. “But there is GPL, the GNU General Public License.”

Amir says, “Open source is a program in which the source code (backend program) is available to the general public for free usage and/or modification, usually free of charge. It is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers develop the code and share the improvements within the community. These communities are composed of individual programmers as well as very large companies.”

Junaid Masoodi, a BSc IT graduate, who earned a name in the development market by scoring remarkable certifications from software giant Microsoft, says his dedication towards learning web technologies won him the prestige of being one of the topnotch student partners of Microsoft.

“I have not learned from any tutor or from my academy. I have been a keen learner of web technologies, resources for which are freely available on internet,” said Masoodi.

Masoodi is working with Microsoft since 2010. He also contributes to OSS as well.

“Within one month OSS has around 25 student followers who get benefited by the coaching. Besides we do not advertise our programs except on social networks,” said Masoodi.

Bassam Ismail is another keen member of OSS. He is young and carries an incredible expertise of web technologies. Currently in the second year of his graduation, Bassam has already been working as a freelance web developer from last 3 years. “I believe in self studying and internet learning and I have been doing so from last six years,” he said. A young soft spoken guy, Bassam is different from his age mates. He is more inclined towards learning the Open Source technologies and awaking others at the same time.

“The last two decades of turmoil in Kashmir have daunted our progress like anything. People picked up guns and stones to mark their resistance but I chose internet. I believe throwing stones cannot bring any solution to our problems rather building our intellect can bring a revolution,” said Bassam. He has joined OSS a month back and is very happy to see the progress. “I am a developer and a blogger and I keep on contributing my work to the open source community that has transformed me into a technocrat. I want others to join the OSS and learn more,” he said. Regarding open source he said, “Open source promises better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility and lower cost.”

Praising the efforts by OSS, Sami-u-llah, a new entrant at OSS, is happy to be part of the group. A computer science graduate, Sami says, “I have learned a lot in last one month from the guys at OSS and at the same time I am contributing my learning to other newcomers as well.”

With a huge number of computer companies already in Kashmir market, OSS claims to be the first of its kind since it’s a non-profit educational community. “There are many similar open source communities presently working around the globe. But OSS is different as it helps educating youngsters without charging anything,” said Aliya.

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