Letter from the editorial team

Dear Readers,

Technology has re-defined democracy. Innovation is constructing the path for the power to come back into the hands of the people. Crowdsourcing enabled by technology is disrupting monopoly. Now anybody with a vision and will to succeed can create opportunities by seeking support from the crowd. And the crowd is comprised of anybody and everybody who believes in your vision. However, crowdsourcing is still a very new concept in India. And the potential it entails is just beginning to dawn on us today.

Seventy per cent of India resides in smaller towns and villages. If India has to truly grow then innovation needs to be initiated by the people, for the people, and of the people in these smaller towns and villages. That is the only way forward for an effective and sustainable growth.

Crowdsourcing is enabling innovators to create opportunities for themselves, irrespective of their location, by not only sharing of resources and funds, but also wisdom. Today, the mantra for growth is connecting, networking and collaboration. Technology has provided us with an ecosystem to do that virtually, and almost instantly.

We already have a number of examples to see where the future is heading. Film-makers, theatre

persons and artists have been able to realise their unique visions by initiating crowdfunding campaigns on platfors like Wishberry, Bitgiving or Ketto, among others. Ola and Uber have made finding taxis and autos at a fair rate unimaginably easy and stress free. Airbnb has managed to surpass the insurmountable hurdle of trust and security in today’s time, and people are willingly sharing their homes and lives with travellers, enabling an ecosystem of community living, across georgraphies.

Future lies in the art of connecting, sharing, networking and collaborating; whether it is an idea, resource, funds, infrastructure or even life. If differences rooted in traditional ideologies are tearing us apart, then a sense of kinship emerging out of disruptive ideas enabled by technology is bringing us together. It’s a tug of war that will be won by those who believe in being together.

Cover Story
The Power of the Crowd

After travelling to 14 countries, Crowdsourcing Week was brought to India, in a collaborative effort by Digital Empowerment Foundation and Crowdsourcing Week. India’s first Crowdsourcing Summit was organised at The Paul hotel in Bengaluru on September 10, 2016.

The summit sought to promote organisations and innovators who are looking to embed the power of the crowd in their products and services, connect the dots in the global crowd-powered marketplace. The summit was uniquely designed to help businesses, governments, innovators and not-for-profits tackle risk mitigation and stakeholder orientation while creating a culture of openness and innovation. It served as a catalyst to help organisations take a holistic look at their operations, engage with stakeholders and create long-term value; and took the baby steps towards invigorating the crowdsourcing movement on a local level through ambassadors who can build community and represent the crowd.

The day-long summit saw several interesting keynote speeches and panel discussions, besides a workshop and networking games as a full house of 130 participants engaged in the interactive summit. Read more


Knowledge Hub & Network

One month to go before nomination process ends
Nominations are open for Manthan Awards South Asia 2016 in order to bring all stakeholders such as governments, business houses, industry experts and civil society organisations who are engaged in the introducing significant ICTD interventions to better serve underserved communities. The Manthan Award South Asia seeks to bridge this gap and create a platform that will not only highlight such ICTD initiatives but also help create a network and database of such players that will enable all stakeholders to contribute and enhance the overall impact.
eNGO 2016 Challenge is now accepting nominations
Nominations are now open for eNGO Challenge 2016 under eight categories. The eNGO Challenge is a platform to enable, empower and recognise grassroots organisations for their excellence in development and development-oriented initiatives. The platform aims to identify, recognise and felicitate organisations that have done exceptional work with communities and subjects using any kind of new age tools. So complete this application form and nominate your organisation to bring it closer to the recognition it deserves.

Access & Infrastructure

Info Mela brings community members closer to benefits
On August 27, 2016, dCIRC Wadsa in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra organised an ‘Info Mela’ in Shivrajpur village. On the occasion, villagers were encouraged to come and seek information on various government schemes and digital citizen services. The mela saw a participation of 74 community members from four villages — Fari, Zahri, Usegaon and Shivrajpur. Out of these, 53 participants received benefits under Aadhaar enrolment. The mela was also attended by anganwadi workers who spoke to community members about mother and child healthcare.
Agro-camp pulls crowd in RohtakAn agricultural camp was conducted at CIRC Sisar Khas in Rohtak district of Haryana on September 13, 2016. Dr Devender, Dr Anup, Mr Foolkaver and Mr Vinod, among other senior members from the state department of agriculture, graced the camp with their presence. Farmers in large number visited the camp where members of the department addressed their queries and shared useful information. Farmers were also encouraged to regularly visit the CIRC to access the Internet for ministry updates and industry advancements.
Qualcomm sees a bright future for Internet use in India
Keeping up with the changes in the country related to digital and mobile Internet growth, Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, discussed Soochnapreneur, a project in association with Soochna Seva, in an interview with CNBC TV18. The Global Chairman of the world’s largest phone chip manufacturer says the fact that India has leapfrogged to 4G technology at such low costs will only boost penetration in India. He speaks about how giving people access to information on mobile phones will help improve quality of life and economic standards.
Jharkhand welcomes two new centres
Two new digital integrated resource centres have been established in partnership with Oracle in Jharkhand. The centre at Gola block in Ramgarh district was inaugurated on August 15, 2016, by the State Minister of Water and Sanitation, Chandra Prakash Chaudhary, in the presence of several state and block-level dignitaries. The other centre has been opened in Itki block, and was inaugurated by BDO Nikhil Surin. A total of 70 students have been enrolled at both the centres for the first batch of digital literacy classes.

Education & Empowerment

Uttarakhand Cabinet minister appreciates CIRC efforts
On August 19, 2016, Uttarakhand Cabinet Minister Harishchandra Durgapal visited the Government Inter College of Halduchaur where trainers from DEF's Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC) Halduchaur, Uttarakhand, have been conducting regular training in basic digital literacy for students. Durgapal appreciated the efforts CIRC has been making towards capacitating the students with digital knowledge and complimented the team for the overall skill development of community youth.
Computer knowledge is helping a mechanic manage his records
Arif Sheikh, a resident of Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, is a Class X dropout who works as a battery mechanic. A few months ago, he enrolled at dCIRC Wadsa as a student of digital literacy. Arif always felt a void as he did not know how to operate a computer. However, within one month of getting himself enrolled at the centre, Arif had learnt to use various computer applications, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Today, Arif uses Excel on a regular basis to maintain financial records of the services he offers, and now wants to learn Tally.
Hyderabad CIRC meets state education department
On September 12, 2016, local staff member Manikanta, from Anjaiahnagar centre in Telangana, and Sheshagiri, from Kakinada centre in Andhra Pradesh, met the Mandal Education Officer (MEO) of Kakinada region. After explaining the core objective and mission of CIRC, they sought permission to conduct digital literacy training to increase the level of digital awareness in the region. The MEO appreciated the programme initiatives and offered complete support in organising digital literacy classes and awareness programmes.
Panchayat heads encourage Mansoorpur community to learn
A public meeting was held in Fuladh panchayat in Vaishali district of Bihar on August 30, 2016, to address community issues and inform them about possible digital interventions. Panchayat members participated in the meeting and duly addressed the various problems that villagers shared with them. CIRC Mansoorpur staff, too, participated to educate people about the importance of digital literacy, following which the village head, Jiyalal Kumar, encouraged people to visit the CIRC, "the focal point for all information".
CIRC student Ravi does a little science experiment
Ravi is a young student of a CIRC in Rohtak district of Haryana. Due to the meager income of his family — that works in agricultural fields — Ravi and his family are often deprived of some basic amenities such as a ceiling fan. However, Ravi’s ingenuity didn’t allow him to feel disheartened, instead he went looking from some waste material — a plastic box, a piece of pipe, a small motor and a mobile charging pin. He spent the next couple of hours, piecing together these objects until he had created a little fan out of scrap.
Teachers go back to being students
Angaryarkanni (47) and Sangitha (27) are partners in the journey of digital literacy. They are both ad-hoc teachers at a government middle school in Manglapuddur, a hamlet in Tiruchirappalli district of Tamil Nadu. Manglapuddur is also home to one of DEF’s latest CIRC, which has been established in partnership with Mphasis. Even though Angaryarkanni and Sangitha are teachers at a government school (and their husbands are daily wage earners), they never got a chance to take a look at a computer, let alone work on it.
Learning the art of learning
A digital summer camp was organised by CIRC Nagaon in Assam simultaneously in DE's three ITE centres — Dragaon, Juria and Alitangani. With the objective of making learning fun, this 13-day camp saw around 30 students from standard V to X participating enthusiastically. Along with basic computer classes, the students also got the opportunity to access the Internet to understand their school curriculum as specified by the State Board. Presentations, debates, discussions and games helped students understand difficult topics easily. Read more
Sameera’s ever smiling face
A native of Andhra Pradesh, Sameera is a 25-year-old woman who has been living on her own (mostly in slums) since she was in Class V after she was evicted by her family because of her identity, that of a transgender. At present, she lives near the Pondicherry railway station and has enrolled herself for digital literacy. She feels that it might help her to lead a respectable future. During one of her recent digital literacy classes, Sameera was seen drawing a self-caricature — big eyes, long black hair and a smiling face.

Markets & Social Enterprises

Promoting digital literacy among schoolchildren
To encourage more people to join digital literacy classes being offered at DEF and Ericsson’s Baank-e-Loom centre in Saidanpur, Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, our local staff visited Dharmavati Shikshan Sansthan to interact with students and school staff and introduce them to the project. Additionally, an awareness drive was organised to target community members in the villages of Banauk, Kishundaspur, Rooppur, Thakuranpurwa and Mohammadpur to create awareness about the importance of digital literacy and access to the Internet.
In search of a better livelihood
A 15-day Rural Digital Exposure Programme was conducted for 14 fellows in Nuapatna, Odisha, with the objective of spreading awareness about digital literacy among young weavers to mobilise them to join digital designing classes and give them hand-on training in digital tools for mobilisation. During this period, 10 schools were covered and more than 700 students reached out. Most of these students come from weaving backgrounds, and are looking for opportunities to market their products better and improve their livelihoods.
Adding colours to weavers’ life
Digital designing and tie-and-dye classes have started in Barpali, Odisha, under DEF and Microsoft’s DigiKala project. These classes will widen livelihood options for weaver families who will no longer be dependent on master weavers for designs. However, efforts are underway to eventually make the entire dyeing process chemical free and organic. Meanwhile, the local centre staff has started night classes for weavers and youth who are unable to attend digital literacy classes during the day.
Lucknow reverberates with a new slogan
On August 30 and 31, 2016, Lucknow reverberated with a new slogan — ‘My voice, My Digital Identity’. On the day, the eNGO Programme of DEF had organised a workshop, which witnessed the participation of 50 grassroots NGOs, that emphasised on the significance of digital tools for raising awareness about organisational activities and networking. Vineeta, whose Kangan Foundation deals in traditional Chikankari embroidery, eagerly delved into the details of running an e-commerce website, and enjoyed a workshop on digital content creation.
Indore-based nonprofits learn the need for going digital
With an inspiring note from our Guest of Honour, Deputy Director of Mahila Sasaktikaran Manjula Tiwari, the Social and Digital Development Workshop by the eNGO team started with much enthusiasm in Indore on August 29, 2016. Around 50 grassroots organisations registered for the ICT capacity building workshop where Manjula emphasised on the importance of being digital. Digital content creation, social media tools and the Dot NGO domain were discussed in great detail, which encouraged 16 organisations to become dot ngo adopters.

Governance & Citizen Services

Discussing challenges and sharing good practices
Digital Uttarakand, a state-level consultation, on ‘Strengthening Access & Delivery of Government Schemes Information & Entitlements in Uttarakhand: Role of Digital Connectivity, Content, Platforms & Solutions’ was organised by DEF in Dehradun on August 26, 2016, in collaboration with the European Union and Mission for Anath Development & Welfare Society. The consultation, a first of its kind in Uttarakhand, sought to invite different stakeholders from the government, civil society organisations and others. Read more
Health camp benefits 600 people in Jodhpur
In the last week of August, dCIRC Malam Singh Ki Sidd in Bap village of Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, organised a free health camp. More than 600 people received benefits through this camp, which was conducted in collaboration with local partner Sri Narayan Paramarth Evam Vikas Samiti. The health camp offered quality medical support, including general check-up, diagnosis and prescriptions, by government doctors and medical professionals. During the camp, it was found that eye-related diagnosis and women health were in most demand.
Rajasthan government focuses on organic farming
In a comprehensive dialogue with the Rajasthan government’s agriculture department, non-government organisations have suggested standardisation of guidelines, facilitation of organic farming certificates and innovative steps for motivating farmers to adopt organic farming. The discussion with over 50 NGOs was organised last month for promoting organic farming. Principal Agriculture Secretary Neelkamal Darbari said the state was giving high priority to organic farming in Banswara, Churu, Sikar and Dungarpur districts. Read more
Partnering for the betterment of Bihar
Soochna Seva, a European Commission sponsored project of DEF, is working for the betterment of BPL families of West Champaran in Bihar. For this, DEF has four channels — Soochna Seva Kendra (SSK), a team of 18 Soochna Mitra, a Soochna Vahan and Nagrik Suvidha Kendra. Of these channels, SSK is the most used platform for accessing government information and entitlements in locations where these services are lacking. And now DEF has opened two new centres in the state in partnership with Oracle.

Research & Advocacy

Power to change the world
As Internet usage grows in India, the number of communities and citizen journalists using new apps, social media platforms and websites is also growing. ‘Digitally Enabled’ is a five-part video series, highlighting the role of the Internet and technology in our daily lives that aims to bridge the knowledge gap between the policy-makers and the end users‎. The series is produced by the US Embassy, and directed by DEF, with support from Twitter for campaigning and awareness. Starting September 2, one film is screened every Friday. Read More
Special Features

Inspiring story from the ground

The man of many stories
Kalle Bhai is a man of stories and mysteries. He knows every nook and corner of Chanderi, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, and knows every single person who lives here. He is great at documenting his experiences and always carries a diary with him wherever he goes. In this diary, he jots down stories, experiences, information, his finances and anything that he finds exciting. He has surveyed the entire village, and has a list of names of all the stone artisans, block printers and handicraft artisans. These are written in multiple scripts. Read More
Regular Features

Cyber Champ of the Month

Putting a pin on women’s safety
Every 22 minutes, a woman in India is raped. And that’s just the number of documented cases. Engineers Kalpana Viswanath and Ashish Basu, with the help of Jagori Charity, are trying to change that with a GPS-enabled mobile app, Safetipin, which crowdsources the safest routes in any given city. Their conceptual and technological breakthrough combines activism, audits, storytelling and people’s review to push for social change. Further, a separate safety audit assesses the routes on a number of variables, including street lighting and public transport.

e-NGO of the month

Empowering women and youth since 2005
CONCEPT Society was established in 2005 with an aim to provide socio-economic and psychological support to rural people in an effort. They work in 16 villages of Indore district and 15 villages of Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh. Through its work in the areas of women, health, education, livelihood and skill, among others, in collaboration with CSR groups, government & private institutions and foreign groups, CONCEPT Society has indeed become the strongest platform to empower women and youth.

Scheme of the Month

Enabling equal opportunities
Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme is aimed at creating an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities. It has been institutionalised to encourage voluntary action for ensuring effective implementation of the People with Disabilities Act of 1995. The approach of this scheme is to provide financial assistance to voluntary organisations to make available a whole range of services necessary for rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.
Column of the Month
Crowdsourcing and social change

Preethi Herman
Country Lead, Change.org India

In October 2015, Masooma Ranalvi wrote a blog about her experience of undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Her blog described her horrific experience of being circumcised as a little girl without her consent or preparation. What she didn’t know then was that she had just initiated the crowdsourced movement against FGM in India. Read more

Bites from DEF's video channel

Last Mile Connectivity

Power to Connect

My Voice My Right

Data & Analysis

About Us

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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