April 8, 2013

Infographic: Education in India in 12th Five Year Plan. Maktion wins in GOI's #12thPlan Hackathon!

Government of India's 12th Plan Hackathon
The week that went by has been amazing of sorts for me. I had sleepless nights but also opportunities to ignite some sparks of creativity. Last Friday, I went to a social meetup #ssmeetup and had a great time and I'm still receiving some amazing feedback on the twitter card that I had created in short time. Over the weekend I went to Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai to participate in a national level creative competition - the 12the Plan Hackathon. I first heard about the hackathon on twitter through Samraat (@samraatkakkar) and then it was through Gaurav (@sgaurav_baghel) that I came to know the registrations were closing on April 4 midnight. I just had 30 minutes to register and could not form a team of four in such short time. I had to register as a one man team as this really seemed an exciting opportunity. Twitter once again helped!

The 12th Plan Hackathon

The Planning Commission under Government of India organized a two day "12th Plan Hackathon" on April 6-7, 2013 across 10 major cities and also had a separate window of online submissions. This crowdsourcing event idea open to people from all walks of life regardless of professions was the brainchild of Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Mr. Sam Pitroda, Adivser to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations. Their website mentions the objective of this entire event in very simple terms:
While the 12th Five Year Plan endeavors to change India, we invite you to help us change the way we see the vision for the nation. Hack the Plan over a 2-day period, create out-of-this-world visualizations of the future, tell the next big story in a myriad ways and build apps to fuel the change. 
You read those words? The "out-of-this-world visualizations.. tell the next big story" - that won me! I knew I had to participate in this competition. They added the in this two day event show your supreme innovative skills with your knowledge of the 12th Five Year Plan and created visualizations, short films or applications which will blow them away. Ever thought a Govt website would talk like that? Well it is, and that's cool! You can watch the recorded webcast of the inaugural address where Dr. Ahluwalis and Mr. Pitroda shared the vision and the principle objective of this hackathon. I'm sharing some tweets on the principle objective:

We had to register in one category among the following three:
  1. Visualizations
  2. Short Films
  3. Mobile Applications
In the first two categories, the participants were asked to visualize the benefits of the Plan and communicate the benefit. While in the third category participants had to create apps which will support the initiatives outlined in the Plan or educate about the focus area of the plan. There was also a fourth category called Uncover in which one had to act like a journalist and interact with the participants and write about it. I opted for Visualization in form of an infographic which simply put are graphical visual representations of complex data intended to present it quickly and clearly. I'm sure you must have seen a lot of these on social media. Well even if you haven't, you'll see one here as you keep reading. I must have seen more than 500+ infographics and even made a handful, so was quiet comfortable in choosing the category visualizations. I knew this was a great creative opportunity and it was time to do some maktioning! Once we chose our category, we had to pick one sector among the following seven:

I chose the Education sector as I've been quiet involved here in whatever way I can. I go to Municipal Schools to volunteer for creative workshops, puppet shows, etc whenever I come to know about it and also have the informal Cultivating Minds project going on. I keep receiving emails from students asking about career opportunities, what should they take up, how to be creative, etc. Some of their questions fascinate me! The hackathon was an opportunity for me to know about education in India at a deeper level and maybe one day use it for a big idea. Who knows?

The judging was made on the basis of a 3 minute pitch to present their solution to a panel of 3 judges on the second day of the hackathon. The criteria for selecting the winners was:
  • Creativity
  • Visual appeal
  • How well it communicates to audience
  • Relevance to the 12th Plan

The winning entries received cash prizes (Rs. 15,000 for first prize under visualization categorry) and GOI certificates of appreciation signed by Dr. Ahluwalia and Mr. Pitroda. Overall, I was very impressed by the hackathon's flow and the extensive use of technology in organizing this event.

But the reverse feeling came when I started accessing the education report, ppts and files.

We were given 32 hours to go through all the reports and PDFs, analyze, do whatever we wanted in order to use for our submission. It was tough as with no prior knowledge we had to first read those documents (Excel spreadsheets, PPT and PDF), then understand the flow followed by some analysis and finally create a story out of it. All this in merely a day's time. And, I was alone in my team which meant I had to do everything on my own. Read. Think. Create. I read through the documents provided, skimmed through the spreadsheets and finally zeroed down on the theme for my infographic. I chose to showcase the current scenario of education in India and connect it with the 12th Plan objectives. Although I know quiet a lot about infographics, I thought it would be a good idea to quickly ask what people really look for in an infographic? I got some quick responses and kept them at the back of my mind during the entire preparation period.

A customer's voice is the most important thing for a Marketer and you should always listen and observe well. Man, I realized this was like a Marketing opportunity for me where the 12th Plan reports on education sector were the crude product and I had to refine it into something presentable and which can be consumed easily in short time. Easy task? Nope. Enjoyed? Very much!

In  my pitch to  to the judges, I talked about:
  • The need for a visually powerful infographic to generated curiosity and create awareness.
  • Who were my target audience? In this case, youth from the age group 15-35 who prefer to access content from the digital medium over hardcopies and long PDFs. I emphasized how people on social network share infographics when they find it interesting and that helps in the social spread.
  • I mentioned that this was a customized infographic for the Planning Commission made with attention to detail. Every design element, text, image, style was carefully thought to come out with a branded product - the infographic. The use of pencil as an image to symbolize Sarva Sikhsha Abhyan, the tricolor pattern in the header, the flow connectors. 
  • Highlighting relevant facts by the proper usage of different font sizes, shapes and colors - the elements of a good infographic.
  • Finally, all the elements put together had to tell a story. Otherwise it would become one more among the many.

And then came the time for result announcement! I was excited throughout but the suspense at the results time reminded me of my exam days. I kept my cool and then suddenly they announced "maktion"! Wow, I couldn't believe it at that moment. And someone from the Government body calling out "maktion" made it a double treat. Was so happy that I didn't know what to tweet so just put a smiley...

I'm happy and as promised to many of you, here's the infographic highlighting education in India at the grass root level under the 12th Five Year Plan. If you like it, then do take it ahead to create awareness. You can take a print out, tweet about it or even use it on your blog. You're completely free to use this collateral in whichever way and medium you prefer to.

Infographic by maktion

Not able to view the infographic? It might be a browser issue. Click here to view in a new window.

Take action: 

<ahref="http://www.maktion.com/2013/04/infographic-education-in-india-12th-plan-hackathon.html"><img src="http://bit.ly/12thPlanEdu" alt=Infographic: Education in India in 12th Five Year Plan" title "Infographic: Education in India in 12th Five Year Plan"  width="580" height="2831" /><a><br/><a href="http://www.maktion.com">Infographic by maktion<a/>

Closing Note
In my opinion, the Government is opening up to new things and had a more inclusive approach in this entire exercise. The 12th Plan Hackathon was a good medium for idea-exchange and going ahead I hope to see more use of technology and other mediums to communicate and collaborate effectively with all the stakeholders. To stay updated with Planning Commission's activities, you can:

We can all take some time out of our busy lives and do something constructive for the country. I've been saying this to all the students that I interact with and I do see a lot of hope. Let's get up and let's contribute in our own little ways with whatever skills we have to make a better India.

Remember, India is us. We are India.

Lastly, I want to thank my Father and Mother who gave me tremendous support. And, also to everyone whom I know in person and on social channels. On a lighter note, as this prize is from a Government body, I too can say that like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgn this is my "National Award" of sorts in the field where I love to perform from my heart - creativity!

Updated (April 20, 2013) 
820 Pageviews, 601 downloads and counting. Click here to see the impact of the infographic

Jai Hind,


  1. Indeed it is an excellent Infographic presentation on a topic like Education. It is a very well collated and well presented creativity in the most simplistic way to make everyone easily understand its achievements, Govt efforts, values, planner's vision and the most important being its overall design. Congratulations to Arif and his maktion for this great and unforgettable experience....

    A very Big Congratulation for first Prize...Well done....Now you are an established design creator...

    Keep moving ahead...Jamal

    1. Thank you very much Papa. Coming from you, this means a lot! Indeed, simplifying the complex data into an interesting and captivating communication was a challenge in those 32 hours. I really enjoyed the hackathon and hope to bag more opportunities in future. :)

  2. It is a great achievement for you and your maktion...Congratulations for first prize...Keep it up...Best wishes for future events...Shagufta Yasmin

    1. Thank you Ammi, this means a lot for me and your wishes always make a difference. :)

    2. I have read your blog its very attractive and impressive. I like it your blog.

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  3. Arif, have known you since you started your professional career. You were always very visual in you communication. I still remember the presentations you made for the Census in IMS, the way you conceptualized, designed and implemented the entire event. You made the regular stuff look so grand. From then till now you have just got better and better.

    This is just the beginning. You are gonna be in a very different league.

    All the best and congratulations once again!!


    1. I'm very humbled by your comment Priya, thank you! Yes, those were challenging times where no one ever thought of 'branding the event' which was otherwise monotonous. I was lucky that my ideas got accepted by the right leader, else it's not always easy for ideas by junior professionals to get accepted by management. Some thorough analysis and conviction played a great deal, creativity was the wrapper. :)

  4. This is just excellent Arif...!! Absolutely loved your presentation. Great going :-) You make us all proud... Cheers.

    1. Thank you bro, really humbled by your comment!

  5. Tons congratulations Arif. Your enthusiasm is infectious. Will share the info graphic with the world.

    1. Thank you Rakesh, very kind of you to think like that. We are awesome, aren't we? ;) Haha, let's continue the good work.

  6. Awesome Arif Many congratulations...!!

  7. You know hard work pays off Arif & we are proud of you, Awesome Infographic + the visuals used are perfect! Wish you all the best always.. Allah Bless you, Ameen :)

    1. Thank you Wafa! Very kind of you and yes, there's no substitute to hard work. But, mix it with creativity and your work becomes fun. Try it.

  8. congratulations , for your national award :) very simple yet clear & appealing.

    1. Thank you Shweta, it was quiet challenging to keep it simple but turned out good in the end.

  9. Awesome presentation for education. Everyone can easily understand the concept. You made the regular information look so informative. Its easy to know about the creativity and the best way for highlighting Indian Education.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you found it useful.

  10. I like this site very much.Congratulations.From Faraz Khan Delhi.

    1. Thank you my little Batman! More power to you! ^oo^

  11. Congratulations i liked it
    it is very nice
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  13. hey Arif Congratulation and its a awesome info graphic presentation over education..

  14. Education sector is often a key factor to be able to accomplishing in which as schooling will be an important factor throughout reshaping along with establishing the world. I couldn't agree more on this. Everybody deserves a decent education no matter what. It doesn't need to have a grand technology and/or resources e.g college paper as what this today's generation offers.

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