DEF founder and director Osama Manzar has written an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg regarding his visit to a village in Rajasthan in India and how his Internet.Org initiative may not be ideal when it comes to ensuring Net neutrality.
Zuckerberg's claim that Internet.org ensured Net neutrality was made in an article that was widely circulated in India through India's second largest business newspaper Mint (16 April, mintne.ws/1yudRTC ) and its sister publication Hindustan Times, the second largest English mainstream daily in India.
A few days after Zuckerberg's article, (Mint on April 20 published an open letter from Manzar to Zuckerberg pointing out how Internet.org actually violates the basic tenets of net neutrality.
Within minutes, Manzar's Open Letter became the biggest talking point among all stakeholders on the subject of net neutrality and got even more widely circulated not only just in India but across the world reaching millions through social media sharing. It was shared 519 times on Twitter, 721 times on Facebook, 8 times on Google+ and 48 times on LinkedIn.
What is most outstanding is, if you had any doubts about what is the crux of the net neutrality issue, all you need to do is read Manzar's Open Letter. And lo and behold, all will be clear to you. The veil in front of your eyes will drop in a jiffy. In case you have missed Manzar's Open Letter please read it in this newsletter titled An open letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Net neutrality.
Perhaps nothing more than this "little" incident highlights how the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) continues to lead from the front the march towards digital inclusion and digital empowerment of all.
For instance, DEF has now taken the lead to provide NGOs working in the development sector a new currency for establishing their reputation as a trusted NGO in the crowded market place of hundreds of thousands of NGOs working in India. Yes, we are talking about the new top level domain - .ngo – that DEF on behalf of Public Interest Registry (PIR) is now offering to NGOs working in India. NGOs can avail this top level domain as a package that includes not only providing them with a website with global reach with the suffix .ngo but also the great benefit of being known to the world of funding agencies in particular and the not-for-profit support ecosystem in general as a validated NGO. Read more on this in our report Launching .NGO-An Exclusive portal for NGOs worldwide.
Our Soochna Seva programme aimed at providing backward communities information about their rights and entitlements under various Central and state government welfare schemes has taken wings. Not only have we set up Soochna Seva Kendras in more than 30 rural and semi-urban areas in backward districts but the process of establishing more such Kendras is on in full swing. In March we organised a two-day Training and Capacity Building workshop attended by more than 800 of our field staff. The objective was to augment their capacity to disseminate information about the rights and entitlements of people under various government schemes. Read more about this in our Soochna Seva Bulletin.
Meanwhile, preparations are on to organise the sixth edition of the mBillionth Award South Asia, now a highly coveted global award in the "mobile for development" space. This year too, we have received more than 300 nominations from across 8 South Asian countries. Please check our report on the event titled 6th Edition Of mBillionth Awards..
India's public libraries are in a state of disrepair. DEF with the support of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has taken the lead to rejuvenate these libraries as vibrant public spaces for learning and for acquiring and disseminating knowledge and information using digital tools. DEF recognises this as yet another way of empowering communities with the power of knowledge. DEF successfully organised a three day global conference cum workshop titled India Public Libraries Conference 2015 on the theme "Transforming Public Libraries in India: Envisioning the Future". The conference was attended by more than 200 experts in the public library space, public library officials as well as policy makers. Among the experts were several internationally acclaimed public library officials who have successfully reinvigorated public libraries that were on the wane in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. They shared their experiences as to how use of digital tools and ICT have helped to make these public libraries once again popular in their respective communities as public spaces for learning and knowledge acquisition and dissemination. Know more about this from our report India Public Libraries Conference.
As usual this Newsletter brings to you reports on several other DEF initiatives. Please read about them and feel free to let us know your views, comments and criticisms. Wish you happy reading, dear readers!