Profile: Harshad Oak – Conferences, Tech Portals, and bringing technology to NGOs
(In this article, Nina Mukherji profiles Harshad Oak, who is very active in the tech community in Pune, who has done many things rather different from what most software technologists usually do, and who has started a number of interesting initiatives. Specifically, we would like to draw our readers’ attention to the TechNoProfits initiative, and his work with the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, which, we hope, at least some of our readers will get involved with.)
Harshad Oak has always chosen the road less travelled. After completing Computer Management in 2001 he worked for IT firms like I-flex & Cognizant for about two years. But he’d always felt a strong urge to venture out and do something on his own. He wrote tech based articles for many newspapers and magazines and even managed to get a number of certifications under his belt.
Harshad then decided to quit his job and set up Rightrix Solutions, a software development firm. By this time, he had also authored a few books on Java and Oracle. This gave him additional credibility and helped him land some good projects for his newly set up firm.
He was invited to participate and speak at various technology conferences abroad. This made him realize the criticality of having such forums in India – such independent conferences were non-existent till then. So with zero experience in the field, he launched the first Annual IndicThreads Conference on Java in 2006. After that they have had many more conferences in the different areas like Mobile Application Development, Upcoming Technology & Software Quality.
Now Rightrix does IT research and advisory services, software outsourcing services, technology portal (IndicThreads), 4 different and technology conferences every year.
Another recent initiative on his part has been starting TechnoProfits – a non-profit entity dedicated to connecting software professionals and NGOs. TechnoProfits enables volunteers to make a positive contribution to society and also come out feeling enriched from the experience. Harshad believes that technology today can connect and enhance lives like never before. “However, most non-profit organisations use no technology beyond making calls from a cell phone. The overwhelming majority of organizations run on passion & dedication but no technology” says Harshad. Please register as a volunteer.
Being of an analytical and rational mind, Harshad abhors superstitious and credulous behaviour. That a ring or pendant will ensure success or modifying their homes so that a bathroom faces X direction will end marital disputes were beliefs that left Harshad feeling frustrated and irritated. “A bathroom door can affect my health only if I accidentally bang into it” he jokes. But this was a serious matter to him and he decided to do something about it.
He started working with Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANiS) a 20 year old organisation. Though they have done remarkable work in Maharashtra towards eradicating blind faith and promoting scientific temperament amongst the youth, Harshad believes that technology awareness is very low. “At the recent ANiS 20 year anniversary event, more than a thousand people from all over Maharashtra turned up, but I probably was the only one using the web and writing about the event on my smartphone. I have been pushing for some kind of an Internet awareness workshop so that the ANiS team can not only leverage the net to reach more people but also be able to convey it’s point of view swiftly and accurately” says Harshad
In order to address this need, TechnoProfits is conducting an Internet Awareness Workshop for ANiS this Saturday the 19th of February (1-5 pm). The topics for the workshop include Internet Basics, Search, Email, Chat, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Using Indian languages Online, and How to make best use of the Internet for social work. Harshad told me: “While the workshop is planned for ANiS, anyone else wishing to use this learning for social good is most welcome”
(You can get in touch with Harshad by emailing harshad aT rightrix doT com)