~ Working to tackle extreme poverty using tech ~
watch my talk describing my work here
Technology is an excellent amplifier of existing human intent and capacity. Through my travels across rural India, I have met countless hardworking, talented and skilled people.
I am currently focused on helping these people defeat extreme poverty by giving them access to dignified digital work . Over the last 1.5 years, my work has moved 10,000 rural Indians out of extreme poverty .
In 2017, I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. At Stanford, I co-founded CS+Social Good, Stanford's first student group focused on the intersection of tech and impact. I led, taught and advised over half a dozen classes on tech for good in Stanford's CS department. More on that below!
I co-founded CS+Social Good to change the conversation about Computer Science on Stanford campus and gear it towards social impact. As a part of the movement, I lectured several tech for good courses in Stanford's Computer Science Department. Last year alone, the students in the class impacted over 30 million people in 15 countries across the globe. We are now expanding CS+Social Good to other campuses and schools across the globe.
Read more about CS+Social Good here or watch the video Stanford shot for the class!
Project Mahatma is an invite-only club for India's future leaders. We take the most promising students, and groom them to be the leaders India needs and deserves. Students get access to our founding team of 25 Stanford alumni and our 250+ mentors, who lead multiple Fortune 500 companies, have created some of India's largest non-profits and are social leaders, entrepreneurs, Bollywood stars and venture capitalists (to name a few). Entry to Project Mahatma is currently application-only. Please email us for more information.
You can learn more about Project Mahatma at projectmahatma.com .
Project Karuna creates bespoke luxury experiences in the most stunning corners of rural India and shares the profits of high-end tourism with villagers on the ground. All proceeds go to local charities that support rural activists and entrepreneurs. At Karuna, our team members have visited over 100 countries across the globe. But if you asked us to tell you the most incredible travel memories of our lives, all of them would be in rural India. Imagine having a 14-course tasting menu in the backdrop of the world's tallest mountains while Himalyan yaks graze in front of you. Imagine watching a surreal purple Milky Way galaxy fade as the sun rises to the dance of clouds at the world's highest tea estate. Imagine being serenaded by a flute player in the middle of an oasis in the Thar Desert. Imagine having the Taj Mahal all to yourself. Imagine a private dinner in a floating 17th century marble lake palace with fireworks all around you.
Read more about Project Karuna here or read what Conde Nast Traveller had to say about us here.
When I moved back to India to work on tackling extreme poverty, I expected it to be harrowing. Mainstream media (within India and especially, abroad) paints such a bleak picture of India ~ as if nothing good has ever happened or will ever happen in India. I expected to feel jaded at the lack of progress. To be disappointed at the lack of good work happening on the ground.
Obviously, the opposite happened. Every single village I visited blew me away. The more I traveled within India, the more optimistic I became. Over a thousand villages later, I can confidently say that there’s an *insane* amount of good work happening on the ground. I have personally met countless young and old Indians who are fighting the good fight, refusing to give up on India and in turn, serving millions of people. And not surprisingly, I realized that most Indians didn’t know these stories.
Most Indians don’t know about Bunker Roy’s miracle work in Tilonia (he helped move 3 million women out of poverty by making them solar engineers) or Dr. George’s amazing work in building Shanti Bhavan (an incredible school in Bangalore that serves the most underserved communities in our country). Most Indians don’t know about Kaan Khajura Tesan, a missed-call based radio station that has over 60 million daily listeners in Bihar and Jharkhand (the world’s largest radio station). The station provides free health and farming advice sprinked between soap detergent ads and the latest Bollywood songs! Digital Green (a movement that has helped 1.5 million farmers in India), Kudumbashree (a women’s empowerment group that has changed 5 million lives)... The list is endless.
Stories of hope and progress are not rare in rural or urban India. In fact, they are more of a norm. My personal vision with Project Janta is to help Indians see the real India. To recognize and learn from the phenomenal work that is already happening within our country. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with our country, I want to focus on people trying to fix those wrongs.
Read positive, heartwarming stories from rural India here
I absolutely love traveling and I have been very fortunate to travel to some of the remotest, most stunning corners of our world. Below, you will see some of my favorite shots from exploring the gorgeous landscape of rural India. Keep up with my travels on my Instagram here.
Check out some of the projects I have worked on in the past below!
In high school, I invented and subsequently patented an anti-molestation device for women as an answer to increasing rape cases in India. I was awarded by the Indian President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam and nominated among India’s 20 Most Brilliant Minds Under 20 by Times Of India.
You can see more about the device on CNN India here. (Link only works in India) or read about it on BBC here.
As of 2016, over a billion Indians own cell phones but signal connectivity and access to Internet are still big problems. It's not uncommon to hear stories of Indian villagers traveling tens of kilometers everyday just to get a signal on their phones.'Narad' aims to fix this problem. See the hack in action here.
The hack won the 1st prize in the Public Service category in Microsoft's global oneWeek hackathon.
At Stanford, I majored in Computer Science with a focus in Artificial Intelligence. Over my 4 years at Stanford, I published quite a few research papers on using state of the art machine learning algorithms to understand imagined speech ( Imagined Speech refers to the process in which a subject imagines speaking a given word without moving any muscle or sound. The ability to understand imagined speech fundamentally changes the way we interact with our devices ), to identify if a person is lying or not using their EEG scans, to accurately identify plant species given an image of a leaf and to accurately search for objects and moments within videos.
See a magical demo of inVideo Search here. The hack won the top prize in the GreyLock Hackfest. You can read our paper on understanding and classifying Imagined Speech here.
In the past few years, I have travelled to Japan and China for engineering projects. I have also taught Computer Science to kids in Jharkhand, India, worked with nonprofits in Kano, Nigeria to motivate healthcare workers and in Chongqing, China to engineer better sanitation and transport systems. I have also worked with private clinics in India on Tuberculosis medicine and improving adherence rate for existing TB medication. This work was a part of the incredible 99DOTS mission.
Through CS 50 (the class I started at Stanford), I worked on tech for good projects in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, America (Bay Area, NYC), Bangladesh, Brazil, India (Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Delhi), Rwanda and several countries in the Middle East and North African region. You can see of these projects in action in the CS 50 class trailer here. (desktop/PC only)
I am currently focused on tackling extreme poverty using tech and I would love to figure out ways we can work together! Please reach out to me at mchopra [at] cs.stanford.edu
I would love to get on a call with you, and brainstorm ways we can work together. Unfortunately, I get a lot more requests than my schedule can accomodate. I charge a nominal fee for an hour long call which you can pay here. All proceeds go to local charities we work with.
If you cannot afford the above option, I also regularly give talks about my work at local schools, universities and companies. These talks are always free to the public and I am happy to invite you to my next talk.