Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday stressed on the importance of people’s participation in a democracy, saying it was not merely about voting for a government every five years. Addressing nearly 10,000 students via video conference at the Smart India Hackathon in Delhi, he said the true essence of democracy was in “jan bhagidar” (people’s participation), The Indian Express reported.

The hackathon was organised by the Human Resource Development Ministry. Some 10,000 programmers are competing in the 36-hour event being held at 26 locations in India. Modi urged the students to not be discouraged by failures, which is inevitable when people try to innovate, but to not compromise on quality either. “Technology can give us solutions that could not have been imagined a few years earlier. Who would have thought that there could be driver-less cars or 3D technology? This is an era of the ‘Internet of Things’,” he added, according to NDTV.

HRD Minister said the Hackathon was an effort to push the country towards a “New India” with the use of technology. “Students can be encouraged to apply knowledge to real-life situations and find innovative solutions for day-to-day problems,” he said.

For the programme, which involves cash prizes of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 75,000 and Rs 50,000, 29 ministries and government departments identified 598 problems of social importance. Students have to find digital solutions to these subjects, such as through mobile apps or other software. More than 7,500 teams of around 42,000 students responded to the problems, but 1,266 teams of 10,000 participants have been shortlisted for the finale on Sunday. Their final products will be evaluated by judges from ministries and industry experts. The winning software will be used by the Centre to improve governance systems.