PM Rashtriya Bal Puruskar awardee: Karnal youth’s portal a weapon to fight Covid
The adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ holds true for Karnal’s Aakarsh Kaushal, who has been awarded with the PM Rashtriya Bal Puruskar for helping lakhs of Covid-19 patients amid the pandemic.
Kaushal, a Class 12 student’s karnalcovid.in helped people to get real-time data of cases, deaths, availability of beds and their RT-PCR test reports while sitting at home. It also helped the authorities deal with the situation and counter false information as there was no source of credible information available in smaller cities like Karnal.
“During the first wave, I realised that people were facing problems in getting their RT-PCR reports. They were unable to move out due to the pandemic. I felt that an online portal was the best alternative,” Kaushal said, on how he got the idea.
Kaushal, with the help of his father, contacted the Karnal deputy commissioner and the CMO. They agreed to assist him with the data and information if he creates a portal in October 2020.
“In the beginning, I created the portal to facilitate people with real time data of Covid cases, recoveries and deaths, then I realised that people were not able to get their RT-PCR test reports as going out was not safe and with the help of Karnal health department, I created another portal enabling people to get their RT-PCR report within 24 hours of sampling,” he said.
But the worst was yet to come and a few months later, the second wave of the pandemic hit the country. The number of cases increased manifold and people were running from pillar to post to get hospital beds. Thus, Kaushal created another portal with real-time information of availability of beds in all government and private hospitals.
“The initiatives evoked huge response and helped lakhs of people. Even people from different states were able to get details of empty beds in Karnal,” said chief medical officer (CMO) Yogesh Sharma.
Later, CMOs from other districts also contacted Kaushal and he created the portal for RT-PCR test reports for 10 more districts.
The initiative has been implemented under the guidance of Dr Chintan Vaishnav, a senior lecturer at MIT’s Solan School of Management and the academic director of MIT Tata Centre for Technology and Design wrote him an e-mail and Dr Chintan helped him with a mentor regarding design of the website, and other features on it.
His parents Aarti and Gagan Kaushal are both doctors. They run a private hospital in Karnal. “Since Class 7, he was learning computer science and web development online. Soon after, I noticed his interest in computer science,” said Dr Gagan.
Karnal deputy commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav said the initiative helped the public and the administration to deal with the situation. He had recommended Kaushal’s name for this national award.
Presently, the project has 10 websites serving in 11 districts of Haryana and till date, it has over 1.3 millions views over 8,00,000 hosted RT-PCR reports with 2,00,000 downloaded reports and is serving a population of about 16.5 million.
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