Letter from the Editorial Team

Dear Readers,

With the winter setting in, we are also gearing up to host awards that drive our vision and mission of digital empowerment of grassroots communities. So, the 4th eNGO Challenge South Asia 2015 was held at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on October 9, 2015. We received a total of 225 nominations, out of which 67 were shortlisted and 15 were declared winners in five categories. But the highlight of the event was the release of 4th eNGO Challenge South Asia 2015 book, titled ‘No Profit, High Impact’, and the unveiling of the .NGO domain.

Then we also held the Manthan Awards South Asia & Asia Pacific 2015 Grand Jury successfully at Hillfort Kesroli-Neemrana Hotels in Rajasthan on October 14-15, 2015. The Jury marked the final stage of selection of best practices for the 12th edition of the renowned Manthan Awards South Asia and Asia Pacific. This year, we received 412 nominations across 13 categories. The virtual Jury members managed to filter 343 valid entries to 165 entries for the final evaluation by the Grand Jury. Finally, a panel of 16 esteemed Jury members looked into the filtered nominations.

Travelling enriches you. And when you are travelling for a purpose then the enriching process becomes even more intense. We have partnered with Rahul Karanpuriya, a young lad who is on a mission to travel across the country to cover 52 locations and spend a week at each of these locations. In all these 52 locations, Rahul will identify an innovator and understand his or her way of life and document it through videos, photographs and text. The project is interestingly called 52 Parindey. Our team also travelled to Bundi in Rajasthan and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh to shoot with Mobile for Good Awards 2014 winners.

It’s quite incredible what one of our winners NGO Srijan has achieved through technology with the farmers’ community around Bundi. They have trained women as Krishi Sakhis who are educating villagers in productivity enhancement techniques. At present, they have 55 Krishi Sakhis who have provided technology assistance to almost 15,000 farmers, and their target is to scale up their operation to one lakh farmers in the very near future.

We then travelled to Gwalior to film another winner, OpAsha, who is working towards detecting tuberculosis at an early stage through an e-detection app. To do so, they have mobile providers who cover a large diverse area on their motorcycles with a backpack. The backpack carries a tablet installed with an e-detection app. They go from one house to another, doing preliminary check-ups on villagers. And when they detect somebody as a suspect, they take his or her sputum sample and carry it for further tests.

Time and again, technology has proven itself as the biggest source of empowerment. And when we hear stories like 52 Parindey, Krishi Sakhis and Mobile Providers, it fills us with a sense of pride and responsibility to keep persevering in our goal of providing digital empowerment to grassroots communities.

Highlight of the Month
NGOs have to fill the gaps with digital tools

Every year, the eNGO Challenge Awards recognise and accolade best practices in ICT by NGOs. This year’s theme for the day-long event, which included interactive session, was ‘No Profit, High Impact’, and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) received a total of 225 nominations out of which 67 were shortlisted and 15 were declared winners across five categories. Mr. Osama Manzar, Founder & Director of DEF, welcomed the esteemed panelists and representatives from more than 700 non-government organisations (NGOs) and, especially, congratulated all participants who had travelled miles from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka to attend the conclave and bridge the digital divide.

The inaugural panel comprised of Ministry of Rural Development’s Additional Secretary Mr. Amarjeet Sinha, Founder of Goonj Organisation and Ramon Magsaysway Award winner of 2015 Mr. Anshu Gupta, Public Interest Registry Board Member Mr. Amitabh Singhal and Capgemini CSR Leader Mr. Kumar Anurag Pratap.

Mr. Manzar invited Mr. Singhal to introduce the audience to the eNGO Programme and the .NGO domain, which were recently launched by the Public Interest Registry (PIR) in collaboration with DEF in India.

“If you are not online, you are not visible. And if you are not visible, you lose the race of generating resources and being influential,” said Mr. Singhal while talking about the .NGO domain which is a closed domain and cannot be bought until the NGO has been verified and validated. Read More...



I have known Moti Lal Ji for about 10 years. I have no idea why but somehow I always knew him as an extremely genuine person who always had a lot of self-respect, desire to help and serve the needy, and a soul of great inspiration for his friends, colleagues, partners, communities and even government officials. His only purpose, as I could observe and learn, was to make a long-lasting impact among the tribal communities who were living around Baran district where he used to work.

With his help and advocacy, many saw light of education for the first time in their entire family, and even generations. He got many tribals out of the shackle of bonded labour. His latest, say for the last seven to eight years, passion was to test how digital tools could be made a tool of change for the tribal communities. Because of his passion, we at DEF became his soul mate and partner to take forward his responsibility to facilitate and offer ICT tools across several centres that he established under Sankalp, an NGO that he founded. I learnt a lot from him and the way he worked with his community members, who were constantly being inspired with his leadership, affection and dedication. We at DEF pledge to continue to work with his communities in times to come and hope to continue his inspiration for making a positive change.

-Osama Manzar, Founder-Director
Digital Empowerment Foundation

eNGO: Empowering NGOs

Bridging digital divide in the City of Joy

The eNGO Programme, DEF and TATA Trusts conducted a two-day interactive workshop on ‘Digital Inclusion for Social Good’ in Kolkata on September 21-22, 2015, when 20 members from various non-government organisations gathered to learn about digital content, website management, crowdsourcing, Internet rights and social media for civil-society and non-profits. The introductory session was conducted by Dr. Syed Kazi, Deputy Director of DEF, who talked about the necessity of digital footprints for non-profits as the tool to single handedly curb the problem of trust deficit. Competitions like 'Tweetathon’, ‘Digital content creation challenge’ and ‘Web mastery’ were organised, and the best performers were awarded with prizes.

Empowering organisations with digital tools for impact

The second workshop on ‘Digital Inclusion for Social Good’ was conducted by the e NGO programme, DEF and TATA Trusts in Lucknow on September 28-29, 2015. In Lucknow, 50 participants came under one roof to share and learn about digital content, website management. Founder-Director of DEF Mr. Osama Manzar addressed the gathering and raised various issues that Individuals and non-profits encounter on a daily basis. He also enlightened NGOs about the power of mobilising through social meda and the right to Information.

The month that was

Manthan Jury 2015

The Manthan Awards South Asia & Asia Pacific 2015 Grand Jury was successfully held in Rajasthan on October 14-15, 2015. This year, we received 412 nominations across 13 categories out of which 343 were valid nominations. The virtual Jury members managed to filter 343 valid entries to 165 for the final evaluation by the Grand Jury. A panel of 16 Jury members looked into the filtered nominations.

The discussions of the selected nominations and the voting on each category began and the jury managed to cover six categories on the first day. On Day 2, the remaining seven categories were discussed. The collective knowledge of all the Jurors let to a powerful discussion on each and every nomination. After the discussion and joint voting system, the Grand Jury selected Winners and Special Mentions of Manthan Awards 2015, their names will be announced on December 2, 2015.

Handling communication and miscommunications on social media

A one-day workshop on Social Media for Empowerment was organised by DEF in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) and in collaboration with Hutto Welfare Society at Hotel PYBSS in Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) on October 6, 2015. The workshop was attended by students, professionals in the private and government sectors, media representatives and senior citizens. Attending the workshop as Special Guest was social activist Mrs. Jarjum Ete. She expressed her enthusiasm about networking with people on social media and highlighted the importance of using social media in the right way. Read more

Scheme of the month - DDUGYY

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana is a government of India scheme aimed to provide continuous power supply to rural India. It aims to provide uninterrupted power supply to all homes 24x7. The government plans to invest ₹75,600 crore for rural electrification under this scheme, which will replace the existing Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY).

To know more about the scheme, read here.

Website of the month - Misaal

Misaal (meaning ‘example’ or ‘model’ or ‘paragon’ in Hindi) is a national network of activists, volunteers, community-based organisations, social enterprises, research centres, advocacy groups and concerned citizens’ groups — local and national — working with and for poorer Muslim communities and other marginalised groups such minorities, Dalits and adivasis to enable change. Misaal is housed in Aman Biradari – Centre for Equity Studies in New Delhi and was founded in 2015 by a group of concerned citizens. To know more about Misaal, visit www.misaal.ngo/.

Column of the Month
Kumar Anurag Pratap
Facilitating catalytic change through IT for social development

The IT sector as a whole has huge work to unfold in mapping the scope of their involvement, resulting into a long-term positive impact which can bring cheers to the faces of millions of disadvantaged communities. While there are discussions and debates considering ICT as an important aspect in reaching out to masses and, thereby, bringing about desired social change, it is also essential to understand the context in which we are operating. Not undermining the potential of ICT to transform developing countries like ours into knowledge-based societies, IT sector as a whole... Read more

Travelogues of the month

Doubling the yield in Bundi

A team from DEF arrived in Bundi, Rajasthan, which is a historical town known for its forts, palaces and step-wells, to film NGO Srijan, one of the winners of Mobile for Good (M4G) Awards 2014. Farmers around Bundi were struggling from depleting yield until Srijan was established in 2008 and began working with 50 farmers at that time and introduced them to some best practices in farming to double their yield. Read more

Learning with weavers and for weavers

Sambhaavnaa Institute of Public Policy and Politics organised in September a three-day workshop, Tana Bana, for the weaver communities of India and those individuals or organisations that are working with the weavers and for the weavers. The workshop saw participation of almost 40 people from across the country and from different walks of life to discuss the present-day socio-economic condition of the weavers and share ideas for the growth of the handloom industry. The Institute is located on a beautiful hillock... Read more

Upcoming project - 52 Parindey

Project '52 Parindey' is dedicated to identifying 52 innovators who are making a conscious living for themselves and their planet through alternate careers in Indian towns. Under this project, starting end of November, a fellow, Rahul Karanpuriya, will travel across the country to cover 52 locations and spend a week at each of these locations. During these stays, Rahul will live with the identified innovator, understand his way of life and document it through videos, photographs and text. Read more

Information darkness plagues weavers in Odisha

In September, a team from DEF visited Barpali in Bargarh district and Nuapatna in Cuttack district of Odisha to access the socio-economic condition of weavers. And the team was particularly impressed by the weavers of Nuapatna, about 70 kilometres away from Bhubaneswar, actually experiment with patterns, and are more meticulous and traditional in their process of extracting thread, spinning yarn and weaving Bangalore silk, Malda silk or Tasar sarees. Yet, they are among the poorest. Read more

The eHeritage Project

Tracing 'Dilli ki Tehzeeb'

Over 125 heritage enthusiasts traced ‘Dilli ki Tehzeeb’ with the eHeritage Project on October 18, 2015. Team DEF was waiting at Chawri Bazaar Metro Station Gate No. 3 for an expected crowd of about 50-60 participants to arrive and register for a walk organised by the eHeritage Project, Heritage Walk: Tracing Dilli ki Tehzeeb. However, 125 people turned up. Read more

Revisiting Old Delhi with RV Smith

On September 19, 2015, The e-Heritage Project organised a storytelling session with author and columnist RV Smith. The interactive session saw participation from 30 people, mostly young heritage enthusiasts and students, who were engrossed in legends, myths, and anecdotes narrated by Mr. Smith who has collected the tales by living in and exploraing the streets of Shahjahanabad. The eHeritage Project, an initiative of DEF and UNESCO India, aims to give online presence to Indian heritage cities.

An ICT-enabled district public library in Unnao

The launch of the Hub and Spoke Library Model, covering Unnao District Library and three other surrounding spoke libraries, is an initiative of the Global Libraries Programme of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with district implementation facilitation by DEF. The project aims to build a network of information, services, knowledge and programme support to develop capacities of the spoke libraries to deliver better information and services to the local communities using ICT. Read more

Rural Focus: An update on CIRCs

CIRCs celebrate Teachers' Day

Various CIRCs across the country celebrated Teachers' Day on September 5, 2015, with great fervour. As a part of the commemorations, students from dCIRC Bhawan, Sillod, assumed the role of computer teachers and taught other students at the centre. CIRC students also paid paid floral tribute to Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnn.

Aruna Roy inaugurates CIRC in Tilonia

On September 9, 2015, a new CIRC was inaugurated at Shiksha Niketan School in Tilonia, Rajasthan, by Mrs. Aruna Roy in the presence of the school principal, staff and students. Shiksha Niketan School is run by the Barefoot College of Tilonia, which has successfully managed to produce many talented alumni in the past who are today working in various capacities at the block and panchayat level. Through Shiksha Niketan School, the Barefoot College and CIRC together have vowed to take ahead the vision of DEF.

Two new CIRCs open in Hoshangabad

In September, DEF, in collaboration with Pradan and its sister organisation Narmada Mahila Federation, inaugurated two new CIRCs in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. The CIRC at Morpani was inaugurated on Spetember 2 while the one in Kala Akhar was inaugurated on September 10. People at both the locations were informed about the significance of the CIRC project and the efforts Pradan has made over the years in order to bring technology to the doorsteps. Women, especially, were encouraged to regularly visit the centre and acquire computer skills.

Capacity building in Bhim

September was a month of capacity building workshops for CIRC coordinators and trainers. The first one was organised at the School for Democracy at Badi ka Badiya near Bhim in Rajasthan from September 14-19, 2015. This week-long workshop was a joint effort of CIRC, Soochna Seva and Mazdoor Kisaan Shakti Sangathan. The workshop extensively covered topics related to CIRC's vision, community mobilisation, coordination, budgeting, monitoring, centre sustainability, access to information, need for access to information, RTI and NREGA. Group activities and games were also organised to encourage participation.

Training through games

Post Badi ka Badiya, Bhim, team CIRC headed to Hyderabad to lead the second capacity building workshop of the month September 28-30, 2015, at Gachibowli, the IT suburb of Hyderabad. In the span of three days, the centre coordinators and trainers from various CIRCs were imparted knowledge on different aspects of management, operation, accounting, monitoring, evaluation, reporting and mapping. The workshop also covered technical sessions on topics like the Internet and hardware. Myriad activities and games ensured there was little monotony during the workshop.

An update on Soochna Seva

Camp in Tehri Garhwal reveals ignorance

The government has initiated various schemes and policies to provide sustainability to the under-privileged people. The irony is that majority of the rural population is devoid of benefits that can be earned from these schemes. The reason is ignorance and lack of information among the masses. Team Soochna Seva witnessed one such case when they conducted a camp in Sivir village in Tehri Garhwal district. Read more

AASHA workers find help in Soocha Sevaks

On a hot afternoon on July 29, 2015, two Soochna Sevaks in Guna district visited the Sub-Primary Hospital of Umri village and met AASHA workers who expressed their grievance of not having received their salaries for the last three months. Understanding the urgency of the situation, Soochna Sevaks contacted Block Medical Officer Ms Sarojini J Baig who immediately directed them to Mr Durgesh Sharma who is in-charge of clearing the payment of AASHA workers in the block. Read more

Saving livestock in Ranchi

Simon Tirki was once a flourishing farmer of Semra village in Itki block of Ranchi district. Due to his old age, he stopped going to the field and began rearing livestock to generate an income for his family. Slowly, problems sneaked into Simon’s house when his goats died and he could not do anything to save them. He had no knowledge about seasonal diseases and the precautions he should have taken. However, his woes soon came to an end after Soochan Seva organised a vaccination camp in his village. Read more

Helping locals write formal complaints

Locked doors, jammed windows, empty corridors and a vast stretch of pastures spread inside the premises of the Primary Health Centre in Bakhri village tells a sorry tale of reckless management. People of Bakhri village in Ramnagar block of West Champaran complained to a Soochna Sevak, “The health centre remains closed almost all the time. Even if it opens, it is of no use because of the absence of beds, medicines and ambulance service.” Soochna Sevak mentored the locals in writing a complaint letter detailing their problems to the DM. Read more

Bringing hope in Barmer

Soochna Seva team has been working extremely hard towards the betterment of society by making people aware of the rights and opportunities provided by the government for making one’s life sustainable. One such effort came into light from Kuship village of Ramdev Nagar block in Barmer district. Here, a team of Soochna Sevaks helped 50-year-old Gabri Devi, who had no Aadhaar or PAN card, obtain a Pension Plan Order card for (old age pension) which she had applied three months ago but with no result. Read more

Videos from DEF archive

Soochna Seva Title Song

dCIRC project video

eNGO Challenge 2015

Data & Analysis
Columns & more

To stay updated with DEF Founder-Director's columns, featured this past month in Mint newspaper, click here.

To follow DEF's coverage in media, click here.

DEF statistics

Click here to read interesting facts and figures from the digital world, published in collaboration with Mint newspaper.

Our publication
News to know
With the motto of 'Inform, Communicate and Empower,' Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) started its journey in the month of December, 2002. Based out of New Delhi and registered as not-for-profit under the "Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860, the effort at DEF has been to find sustainable Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions including digital and new media to address digital divide in under-served and unreached regions and communities. With a non-political approach, it was founded to contribute to an enabling social and economic order in India as well as in developing societies with the need based support of ICT tools and means. With ground work since 2003, DEF has reached over 22 States and 8 countries.
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