New Delhi: Mohammad Imran Khan has become a star overnight and deserves every bit of that celebrity status. For, how many in his place would selflessly decide to dedicate education-related incredible Android apps to students for free.
The moment of glory came for 36-year-old Khan at an international platform when Prime Minister Narendra Modi named and praised him while addressing a crowd at London’s Wembley Stadium recently.
As the PM talked about an India “beyond headlines in newspapers” and much more than “what you see on TV”, he remarked, “my India is in that Imran Khan from Alwar (Rajasthan)….” Ever since, Khan’s telephone has not stopped ringing.
While Khan is coping up with the sudden adulation he is receiving from people all over the world, Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has offered free internet facility to him from state-owned telecommunication company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).
With no formal education in Information Technology, he has in the past three years developed Android apps on topics varying from General Knowledge, Physics and Chemistry to History, English and Rajasthan Administrative Services to assist students. Clicking on ‘Play Store’ in the Android phone and searching for ‘gktalk’ fetches a series of educational apps, which have been downloaded by over 3 million users and the top grosser has been on General Science with over 700,000 downloads.
Mohammad Imran Khan speaks to Gulf News:
Were you watching TV when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned your name and work at Wembley Stadium in London?
No, I was sleeping when it happened. Now I can say that my dream came true while I slept!
When and from whom did you hear about it? And what was your immediate reaction?
My friend Rajesh Lawania called me up on the phone immediately after the Prime Minister mentioned my name. Obviously, I didn’t believe him. So, he pestered me to switch on the TV and see live telecast. But not one to watch TV, I later reluctantly opened my laptop and watched it half-an-hour later on YouTube. It was an unbelievable experience. Immediately after friends began calling up and then I was deluded with calls from media persons.
So, have things changed for the better ever since?
Life has changed, no doubt. But it’s rather puzzling, as it has not been possible for me to update the daily general knowledge and current general knowledge related apps. Moreover, there are various programmes to attend and numerous emails to reply to.
How is your family coping up with the sudden attention?
I belong to a humble family and my father is a farmer. We are four brothers and three sisters. Despite our village not having proper educational facilities, our parents gave us good education and while my eldest brother is a lecturer in a college, the other two work as engineers in private companies. I remember, my teachers telling me I have a sharp mind and should strive to become a scientist. But my parents willed that I become a Sanskrit teacher, so I did a two-year basic teacher training course after completing my senior secondary and became a teacher in 1999. I studied further as a non-regular student.
If you were to meet the Prime Minister, what changes would you request him to consider in the education system?
It would be my pleasure and honour to share my experience as a government schoolteacher with him. I would apprise him of the difficulties we face to reach our goals to provide quality education and also the low-cost use of Information Technology in education to enhance the level of learning, especially in rural areas, where so much is required to be accomplished.
When did your app journey begin?
It began in 2012, when I wasn’t even aware what the word ‘app’ stood for! My younger brother, who had completed a BTech in Computer Science, had found a job at a software company. He left his books at home and, finding free time after school, I began poring over them. Soon, I learnt HTML and designed a free hosting web portal named Mikworld in 2009. After that I came up with www.gtalk.com.
Around then, Ashutosh A.T .Pednekar, then district collector of Alwar, met me and asked me to design the website for the District Institute of Education & Training. He also suggested that I develop apps. Seeing a surprised and blank look on my face, he showed me some apps on his tablet. It took me some time to understand and learn the technique from online tutorials and the first Android app ‘NCERT Learn Science’ was developed.
How many apps have you created and which ones are most useful for children and in which age group?
I have created 52 apps so far. These cater to three categories of students — primary level, secondary level and for those appearing for competitive examinations. The most used apps are: General Science in Hindi, SSC Exams, Daily GK, NCERT Learn Science, Kids GK, Geography G K, Indian Constitution and Hindi Grammar.
Which apps are your personal favourites and why?
My favourite ones are General Science in Hindi, as it contains 300 daily life science questions in a simple language, SSC Exam, which I update daily. The app data updates automatically by synchronising to my server. And I also like Daily GK, which is a datewise GK app containing objective type questions.
You seem to take up new challenges every day?
Yes, taking up challenges are a way of my life and these force me to work hard. But I can’t say if it is a strong or a weak point. I do not like to walk on the trodden path and always crave to create or add something new. These initiatives have led me to make creative interfaces that are full of refreshing ideas.
Mohammad Imran Khan's educational journey
- Mohammad Imran Khan was born on December 5, 1978 in Khareda, Alwar district, Rajasthan.
- He did his early schooling from a government school.
- Became a Sanskrit teacher in 1999 and is presently posted at Government Upper Primary Sanskrit School, Jaton Ka Bas in Alwar, Rajasthan.
- Graduated from Rajasthan University in 2001.
- Did his Masters in English in 2004 followed by a degree in Economics in 2006 from Rajasthan University.