By Aditi Agrawal and Trisha Jalan

Deep Kalra, CEO of MakeMyTrip, finally acknowledged the involvement of the company, not individual developers in their personal capacities, in the development of India’s contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu during the earnings call for Q4FY20 on June 26.

[O]ur technology team has also contributed immensely to help the government develop and launch a COVID tracing app called Aarogya Setu. … I’m pleased to share that this app has been downloaded over 130 million times, and I’m especially proud that our small team of talented developers and engineers have been able to contribute to the welfare of our society in a very meaningful and direct way.” — Deep Kalra, CEO of MakeMyTrip [emphases ours]

This is despite the fact that when the app was launched on April 2, when MediaNama reached out to MakeMyTrip to confirm their involvement in the project, we were told, “While we are involved in multiple conversations with industry bodies and government, Go-MMT is not involved in it.” Similarly, Jaydeep Dutta, Senior Vice President (UX Design) at MakeMyTrip, in a previous webinar, had said that he is a private volunteer, and in an interview with MediaNama in April, Arnab Kumar, the then Program Director of Frontier Technologies at NITI Aayog, who has been spearheading the project, had said that all private individuals who are contributing to this project are doing so in their personal capacity.

We know from our interviews with Rahul Matthan (who developed the app’s privacy policy) and Arnab Kumar (NITI Aayog), and from attending a webinar where Kumar and Dutta spoke about the app that individuals from the private sector have not entered into formal contracts with the government and are working on a pro bono basis.

Even the list of contributors that was made public on GitHub when the app’s Android version was open sourced on May 26 did not list their company affiliations. At the time, MediaNama had looked up the individual affiliation of each individual and made a list. We had learnt that each of the 33 industry contributors (separate from industry leaders) is either from 1mg or MakeMyTrip (MMT and Goibibo merged in 2016): 13 are from Goibibo, 10 are from MakeMyTrip (one of them left MMT in April), 3 from 1mg and 1 from NITI Aayog. We could not find details for 6 of the contributors, though one of them is from Go-MMT. All government contributors are from the National Informatics Centre.

Similarly, Prashant Tandon, the co-founder of 1mg, had also categorically denied the involvement of the company in the development of Aarogya Setu when the app was launched on April 2.

The government and industry/academia “leaders” in the GitHub list had come out in the public for their involvement with the app as advisors, including Lalitesh Katragadda, Kalra and Matthan, and public and private contributors who have similarly made their contributions to the app public in different fora.

Also read: Who made Aarogya Setu? A list