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A TALK WITH MEHVISH MUSHTAQ, CREATOR OF MOBILE APP DIAL KASHMIR

Dial-Kashmir

Today we’re talking about a mobile project run by a young girl. She’s Mehvish Mushtaq, and the project is called Dial Kashmir, an Android app that provides valuable info about Kashmir.
The description on Google Play goes like this:
“All the information about Kashmir is now just a touch away.”

The project has been developed in Srinagar, a city of over 1.2 million people located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and provides a very important service to the whole Kashmir area, which counts around 5 million people.
The promotion of Dial Kashmir is strongly focused on social media; the Facebook page is quite active, with posts about the app and about the beauty of Kashmir.


Dial Kashmir Facebook

We talked with Mehvish Mushtaq, the girl behind the whole project. Here’s what she told us.

– Hi Mehvish, let’s start with an introduction: where are you from, what do you do, and how did you life change after the success of your project?
Hi! I am from Srinagar, J&K. I have done my BE in Computer Science from SSM College of Engineering (Kashmir). Life changed a lot after Dial Kashmir happened. The response that I got from the users was pretty good. The app got attention from people from different walks of life: it felt good to be recognized for your work.

Dial Kashmir

– Let’s talk about Dial Kashmir: what was originally the target of the app, and how it evolved after the incredible international exposure?
The target of the app were and remain locals and tourists. It is not easy to locate numbers of different essential services (such as hospitals, editor’s note) and commercial services, so I felt the need to create an app that would act as a database for all the contact details of both essential and commercial services,and benefit both locals and tourists. In addition to contact details, the app also includes pin codes, std codes, list of holidays, prayer timings for Kashmir.

 Mobile Kashmir

– What led you to choose Android vs. other operating systems?
Android is the most used operating system. More and more phones are moving towards Android now as it has a good user interface, provides a huge number of apps to download and is quite user friendly. Thus, I chose Android as its use is more widespread than other OS. I intended to make an app that many people could use, and Android served as a perfect platform for the same.

– The project is English-based: how many people speak English in the Kashmir area? How important is the knowledge of local languages and culture in communicating a product or a service in the area?
I have said it before in other interviews and I am saying it again: Kashmir is not as people think it is. There are a lot of people who speak in English here, a pretty good number.
Knowledge of local language and culture is quite important in making something for the people of a place as you cannot make something for a certain area without knowing about the area. However, when it comes to marketing the local languages do play a major role but not as big a role as it is thought of. I marketed my app in English all the time and the response I got has been amazing.

– Dial Kashmir is active on Facebook, Twitter and WeChat: how important are social media in promoting such a service in Kashmir?
Kashmir has been a place of conflict but it is not backward, people are tech savvy. They use social networking sites just like any other place. The role of social networking sites has been a major one: I promoted my app on Facebook and Twitter, then gradually moved to instant messengers. Dial Kashmir owes a lot of its success to social media.

Dial Kashmir Facebook

– How many people have access to Internet in Kashmir? Do you think social media and mobile technologies are actually having an impact in society? 
A pretty good number of people have access to the internet here. Social media and mobile technologies are having a good impact: it’s lessening the boundaries and bringing people closer by making them more connected.

– Last question: how do you see your future, after you became the “most popular Android developer in the Valley”?
“The Android girl ” as people call me :)
Well  it’s going to be based on further app development and improvement in Dial Kashmir. A lot can be done with Dial Kashmir, and I am focusing on that for now.

– Thanks a lot Mehvish!
Guido Ghedin

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