Osama Manzar is a global leader on the mission of eradicating information poverty from India and global south using digital tools. He is a social entrepreneur, author, columnist, impact speaker, angel investor, mentor, and sits on several government and policy committees in India and on international organisations working in the areas of Internet, access, and digital inclusion. With over 20 years experience, Osama has worked in the areas of journalism, new media, software enterprise and ended up creating Digital Empowerment Foundation that works in India to digitally empower the masses with a footprint of 200 locations and interventions in more than 10 countries, mostly in South Asia. His complete bio can be read here.
Shaifali Chikermane is an expert in creative design and is playing a leadership role within DEF to provide digital design-based solutions to the organisation’s various community-centric programmes, websites and publications. An alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, she has a professional experience of over 20 years of experience. A designer and expert on information design, she is an enthusiastic volunteer for many educational institutes like the Aurobindo Ashram’s Mirambika School. Ms. Chikermane also works as a freelance designer and consultant, providing design and information development services to organisations.
Amir Ullah Khan is a Development Economist and a Senior Policy Advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from Osmania University, and has studied at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). He also holds a PhD in Economics and Business Studies from the Jamia Millia University, New Delhi. Mr. Khan has worked as a researcher for the Ministry of Finance under the Government of India, and the UNDP for Project LARGE (Legal Adjustments and Reforms for Globalising the Economy). He was been the Academic Head at the Indian School of Finance and Management, and the Executive Director & Editor for Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Mridula Chandra is a post-graduate from the Delhi School of Social Work and holds more than 20 years of experience in the social development sector. She is the moving force behind the Health & Social Development Research Centre (HSDRC). Anything that is visualised and successfully accomplished by HSDRC is due to the sustained, unabated and self-less efforts of Ms. Chandra and her colleagues.
Rajen Varada has been an ICT practitioner since 1995 and continues to be actively engaged in designing and implementing proof of concept solutions for rural development using technology and in particular ICT. He has developed solutions for health and early childhood care (Sisu Samrakshak – UNICEF), disaster (SMS4Help – Solution Exchange), district e-Governance (Parishkaram and Samadhan – government of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal), and most recently ‘Labnet’ — a migrant labour tracking and services portal. He has been actively involved for the past nine years in studying, evaluating and mentoring ICT innovations which impact the social sector. Mr. Varada has been one of the thinkers behind movements like public sector software in India, he and actively supports community ownership of technology – from community radio and community TV to open source applications.
Shalini Kala holds an Advanced Degree in Economics, and has worked on issues of agricultural policy reform in India for her M.Phil dissertation. She has 20 years of professional experience in the field of rural development, particularly in the areas of food and agriculture, focusing on knowledge networking, livelihoods and capacity building both in India and the Asia-Pacific region. Most recently, Ms. Kala was at the World Food Programme (WFP) where she worked on design, testing and advocacy of innovative approaches for food aid as a tool of development. She has also been associated with the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and has worked on various USAID projects.
Advisory Council Members
Arun Maira, an alumna of St. Stephens’ College, is a management consultant and former member of the Planning Commission of India. He is also the former India Chairman of Boston Consulting Group. Maira was a part of the Tata Administrative Services for 25 years, and has authored several books, including Redesigning the Aeroplane While Flying: Reforming Institutions and An Upstart in Government: Journeys of Change and Learning. Maira has formally held the position of Chairman at Save the Children – India and Axis Bank Foundation, and served at various capacities in educational and management-based institutes, including Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Public Interest Foundation, WWF - India, the World Food Program India Trust, and Aspen India.
Jonathan is founder of PluggedIndia.com and CreditMate. He is an advisor to Reverie Language Technologies, Saavn, On Device Research and several other mobile-centric businesses. Bill is also an active angel investor in India’s tech start-up market. A mobile Internet expert, Bill has spent a decade leading Vodafone’s mobile Internet operations and strategy in developing markets including India, the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. Prior to Vodafone, he held the position of the Commercial Director at Internet ad-serving company Real Media and was Business Development Director for Reuters Media.
Madhu Singh Sirohi is the Country Head of Vodafone Foundation in India. She has committed more than 17 years of her professional career to areas of education and corporate social responsibility, with keen interest in women empowerment. Presently at Vodafone, she is working in the areas of addressing social changes with the potential use of mobile technology with partner organisations like SEWA, Pratham and Cherie Blair Foundation, among others. Previously, Madhu has been the former Country Head for Corporate Responsibility and Environment at Uninor, and was part of the team that lead the GSMA mWomen agenda in India, bringing focus to the gender gap in phone ownership. Madhu recognises the potential of telecom industry and its power to transform India.
Mathew Cherian is an enthusiast in the development sector with degrees from prestigious institutes like BITS and IRMA. Cherian has worked in the area of rural development with cooperatives in association with the National Dairy Development Board. He has also been a consultant to voluntary agencies and to the National Wastelands Development Board. He has served in various senior roles at the Association of Third Sector Researchers in India, Resource Mobilization Network in India, Campaign for Human Rights for Dalits and Tribals, and Charities Aid Foundation India. Cherian is an active member of the National Council of Senior Citizens chaired by the Prime Minister and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of HelpAge India.