Digital Sarthak: Testimonials from Women Entrepreneurs

Here are a few stories from the women entrepreneurs who are being trained in digital tools in the district of Alwar in Rajasthan. The unique theme in this month’s stories has been the focus that the Digital Sarthak trainers have kept on the importance of building confidence in women. All the trainers have emphasized on…

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The Digital Past and the Future

Last December, on the 20th foundation day of Digital Empowerment Foundation, a panel was organized to discuss “opportunities and challenges vis-a-vis digital development in the next 20 years” by CDPP and DEF. The panelists were Ramesh Loganathan, Professor at IIIT Hyderabad; Natasha Badhwar, Author, Storyteller & Volunteer at Karwan-e-Mohabbat; Meera Shenoy, Founder – Youth4Jobs; Manoj Bejawar, CEO at Synchroserve IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd.; and Anuradha Amudalapalli, Executive Partner, IBM Consulting

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Seeking Refuge Under Digital Literacy

While some parts of the world complain about being spoiled for choice, it is heartening to see some other parts struggling to find a voice in a choiceless environment. Unfortunately, even the 21st century does not allow one to consider the availability of some of the basic human needs and rights granted let alone stand with a belief that they, like any other human being, deserve such basic attention.

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Community Engagement to Boost Digital Literacy

For any project to see its full potential, community mobilization plays an integral role as the purpose of the schemes would not be served unless the beneficiaries are fully aware about their entitlements. As a part of community engagement, Digital Literacy for Women and Girls program, an initiative by Microsoft and DEF, a session was conducted at CIRC Jafrabad centre, Delhi.

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Empowering Smart and Service Oriented Women

Women empowerment plays a pivotal role in the overall development of any country besides positively impacting the day to day lives of women. The progressive change in the fields of employment and information technology have brought a wide range of opportunities for women in India and across the globe. The reforming development in mobile technology has brought world communities closer, narrowing the digital divide.

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20 Years of Digital Empowerment

It seems like 20 years is a long journey. Someone asked me what after 20 years, I feel like changing the name to Digital Disempowerment Foundation. The job is certainly going to change. I would like to share here that the social sector or social entrepreneur journey looks very flashy on the screen or data sheets, which isn’t possible without investing your life in it. Every toilet looks clean, but you need to find out who keeps cleaning it before you go and use it.

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Digital Sarthak: A chain of digital entrepreneurship capacity of the poor

The digital services received through the Internet are both a communication channel and a marketplace. In a way, it can be called a global integrator. But the fruits of such services are not easily accessible to all. This unequal accessibility comes in terms of gender when women are not encouraged or taught to use digital services.

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The power of community, communication and messaging

Many lost education and job opportunities as life inclined towards the online mode during the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid related information seldom reached the remote corners of the country. The digital divide became evident and seems to have widened even further. In this light, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) launched an initiative with UNICEF called Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE).

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Women’s Digital Empowerment Training Suite by World Pulse

I have been working at Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) for the last 10 years under various programs and now I am handling Digikargha, a social enterprise that works towards the digital empowerment of weavers and artisans. I heard about World Pulse’s Global Premiere: Women’s Digital Empowerment Training Suite from our senior manager. I did a little research about them and got to know that World Pulse is an independent, women-led social network for social change.

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A Mentorship Ecosystem to Create Community Leaders

“If I don’t understand something I just ask Sushma and without hesitating she comes immediately and helps me” said Anita Kumari, a Samarth SoochnaPreneur (SSP) from the village of Beyang in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand. Samarth SoochnaPreneurs are differently-abled digital information entrepreneurs. Sushma Kumari is an SSP too,…

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Don’t Ring the Alarm Bells

Parwada in Visakhapatnam is an industrial area; consequently, talks of industrial safety measures and fire hazards are frequent among its inhabitants. Ever since a fire broke out last year and claimed eleven lives, the frequency of such conversations has, understandably, increased. DEF believes that not only the workers at these factories, but also their children, should be provided with adequate information…

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Enriching Empirical Visit to Nuh

I have been travelling to Smartpur’s locations across the ten districts in India and this is a travelogue of my journey to the district of Nuh, Haryana where there are 10 Smartpur centres. Having connected with the district coordinator and the entrepreneurs of the ten centres on call I knew them, however, I was excited to meet them. Around 11 am, we reached the Nuh Hub centre, in Tain village.

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Digital Development in Nuh

On 11th Feb, 2022 I got an opportunity to visit the Smartpur centre in Nuh. The primary vision of the program is to empower marginalised communities in information dark regions to access, consume and produce information online using digital interventions and ICT tools. The district has lush green fields on both sides and as I crossed them I felt excited to see what awaits me at the centre in the village of Tain.

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Country-wide Women’s Day Celebrations

On the occasion of International Women’s day, Kaithwalya Hub Centre in Ghazipur district held an elaborate celebration to commemorate its women participants and its students for their outstanding contributions. Our SoochnaPreneurs also addressed the women at the centre and spoke to them about their rights and laws that guarantee those. After this, the students who come to the centre to learn computer…

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Celebrating the Journey of Women SoochnaPreneurs

On International Women’s Day, beyond the long conversations on women’s rights, never ending debate on gender equality vs equity, testimonials of change or intellectual talks on feminism, we had the opportunity to interact with the women who are creating changes in the grassroute level where none of the urban lingo around gender bias has any stand.

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Governance & Finance Awareness Camps in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh

Since the establishment of a DEF Centre at Vikrampur two years ago, we have worked tirelessly to organise activities and drives that help us remain true to the vision of ‘Smartpur’. Many noteworthy activities have transpired in the past and, with our most recent events, we are determined in our efforts to carry the endeavour forward.

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Ramadevi: A COVID Warrior

Early that morning around 8 am we started from Pondicherry to visit our RCCE (Risk Communication Community Engagement) volunteers in Chennai. As we didn’t know the exact location, Sindhu DEF’s local coordinator helped us reach there. We met Ramadevi as she mobilized people to come; she made some calls and told them “yes yes the meeting is now, please come.”

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COVID Warriors in Uttar Pradesh

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, nobody could have foreseen how long it would last, how quickly it would spread, and how many lives it would claim. Two years have passed and in 2022, we are now witnessing the third wave due to the Omicron variant. The spread of the virus is so absolute that no one is assured protection. In such a scenario, being careful is no longer enough. One must also be aware.

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Digital Foot Soldiers Spreading Awareness About Internet Safety

The internet is an incredibly powerful tool and its importance in today’s world cannot be exaggerated. Information about all the topics we can think of exists on the internet. However, not all that information can always be trusted. However, not all that information can always be trusted. Along with verified and credible data, there also simultaneously exists fake news and misinformation which, when consumed or spread, can be disastrous and potentially dangerous.

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The Blessing Gypsies of Chennai

It is not uncommon to associate big cities with the ideas of ever increasing employment opportunities and a sense of freedom that the young seek and a notion of security and comfort sought by the old. One such city, Chennai, welcomes you with its busy commercial streets, high raised buildings, restaurants to cater to every kind of taste palate and crowded roads decked with so many street lights that one could easily conclude that the city never sleeps.

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Arun Kumar: Digital COVID Warrior & Social Worker

“These kids don’t have access to digital devices, I have been trying to support these 8 families here by raising funds with my friends to distribute food to them every couple of weeks but I don’t know how to support them in their education” said a 24-year-old Arun Kumar. It was heartening to see the effort he was putting to support a group of families who are facing political, social and economic exclusion due to their nature of work.

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Sonia; a Digital Entrepreneur in a Weaver’s Cluster

Sonia runs a Community Information Resource Center (CIRC) in Vitchanthangal village, Kanchipuram district. She helps her customers gain access to online services like government documents, pan card, aadhaar card, lamination work and aadhar linked payments. She also takes computer classes for students of her village

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“Hotspots” are the Unconnected People

The “3rd WiFi India Virtual Summit” was organized by Broadband India Forum (BIF) on 22nd January, 2022. Following the decision by the Union Cabinet which approved the setting up of public WiFi networks across India through Public Data Offices (PDOs) without the requirement of license, registration or any other fees in December, 2020 discussions around its implementation and implications have been conducted annually.

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Internet for All, but Privacy for Me

“Digital Rights Explored: Local Rights, Global Perspective”, is a podcast series hosted by Media and Information Literacy Expert Network (MILEN) which revolves around some case studies of violations of digital rights across different countries and discussions with the experts from the field on the possible solutions to address the consequences.

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Jawabdehi Yatra: A Personal Travelogue

This travelog is about traveling by road, day and night, with people to publicly talk to the government in Rajasthan about the meaning of daily harassment of basic rights of the masses because of the non performance, unaccountability and delayed services that each and every government official must provide as per the constitutional right of the country.

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Promoting Community Driven Policies

Digital Empowerment Foundation’s journey of 19 years, since 2002, has shown how they have taken a community driven approach in all of their policies. All along, they also advised several wings of the government to formulate community oriented policies and programmes. A democracy is for the people, by the people and of the people.

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Barefoot Wireless Engineers: Using Human Networks to Grow The Internet

With over half of India’s population unconnected to the Internet, the country is divided into haves and have nots. People who have access tend to be well educated and have higher income, while people who lack it tend to belong to marginalized groups, such as indigenous and tribal communities, women and girls, and those living in hard-to-reach locations.

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Circular Economy – Making good of what goes around, comes around

As the world is turning more digital every passing day, the problem of e-waste also increases. The increasing use of electronic devices and rapid development in these devices means there is more electronic waste lying outside the cities especially in the developing world. The number of new digital goods sold annually worldwide is over six billion, and it is increasing at a rapid pace.

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How Free is the Media?

Despite being considered a cornerstone of democracies, media, has also played an active role in stoking ethnic killings, and genocide. Indian media is mirroring behavioural patterns under the garb of freedom of speech by stoking hatred against minorities as evident in the recent past. This complex dilemma of freedom of speech and abuse of power needs to be addressed on a large platform like RightsCon to ideate solutions.

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The Digital Stories of Fishermen Community of Chirala

Osama Manzar travels by road through the coasts of Chirala in Andhra Pradesh and makes visits to several digital interventions of Digital Empowerment Foundation that are making a difference in the lives of weavers, village folks and fishermen of Chirala. Here is the diary…

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Leveraging Digital for Relief Opportunities in a Pandemic

When the lockdown was first imposed in March 2020 and everything was shut down, rural and remote India was the worst hit. Unlike the urban populations, people from rural and remote locations in India didn’t have access to fast-speed Internet connectivity, many of them did not possess a digital device…

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We are the digital designers fighting information poverty

The Legatum Center at MIT has been conducting research on Innovation-driven enterprises (IDE) that are unlocking significant business and societal value by solving systemic problems that conventional business models have not been able to solve. In that research, Legatum Center included the Digital Empowerment Foundation as an example of IDE’s. Following is a compilation from the interviews with Osama Manzar.

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Osama Manzar and Digital Empowerment Foundation

It’s interesting that we must share and narrate this story with so many friends throughout time. It is hard to begin with describing who I am, especially when there has been an evolution of thinking and applying and a growth of consciousness over time. One is never the same person they were yesterday, and they will never be the same person tomorrow, in a mixed manner. It could be good or bad.

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Providing Digital Services in Unconnected Regions of Telangana

Chouttupal is a one hour drive from Hyderabad on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway. Jagdish, Digital Empowerment Foundation’s project officer in Chouttupal had sent me the location of DEF’s centre in Chinna Kondur village near Chouttupal. As I drove on the busy highway I wondered why DEF had opened a centre so close to the city as we are known to be present in remote locations.

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Deepak Kumar Munda: Migrant Labourer to Community Leader

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the nationwide lockdown in March 2020. The millions of migrants living in cities lost their source of livelihood and head back to their villages. Deepak Kumar Munda, 21 was one such migrant worker. He used to work in Bangalore as a labourer and returned to his village Khakhra in Jharkhand as the 2020 lockdown left him unemployed.

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Making Villages Smart

Jakhopur is a small village near Tijara. As one enters the village one can often be welcomed by camels with a cart tied to them navigating through the narrow lanes of the village. The narrow lanes meet at an intersection where a group of men can be seen sitting and chatting. The dark blue building where they are sitting has a logo that says ‘Smartpur’. Shahrukh Khan came and gave me a warm welcome as I walked towards the blue building. He is the Centre Coordinator for DEF in Tijara block.

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Creating Community Leaders in Barabanki

Digital Empowerment Foundation has been working in the district of Barabanki for the last seven years. With one hub center in the village of Saidanpur, DEF has expanded to 60 villages in the district through their entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs are digital trainers, digital service providers, weavers, teachers and community leaders who have made community development their primary goal.

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Chatbot: Tool towards debunking the misinformation and fake news

Over the past years India has seen some of the most adverse fallouts of online misinformation. Whether it is the form of offline violence, social panic, or targeted campaigns of harassment, the problematics of misinformation are rather complex and diverse society like India. Fact-checking and media and information literacy (MIL) have emerged as potential strategies for countering misinformation.

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Vaccination Drive in Rural India- Insights from Ground

In June 2021, Research and Advocacy division of DEF along with Osama Manzar (Founder-Director of DEF) the Projects division organized a webinar to interact with the DEF’s Soochnapreneurs and Smartpur Coordinators working in remote parts of the country.

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The English and Digital for Girls’ Education [EDGE]

British Council and Digital Empowerment Foundation [DEF] started a flagship programme by the name English and Digital for Girls’ Education [EDGE] with an aim to develop English skills and digital literacy as well as developing confidence and soft skills among girls from marginalised sections of the society in India.

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COVID-19: Stories from Ground

The second wave of Covid-19 has shattered the healthcare system, which was already wounded since the first wave brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. The situation on the ground is rapidly changing in terms of the rising number of cases, lockdown…

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The Real Benefits of Digital Development?

When people successfully become adept at Twitter, it can help them to make connections with people they would not have otherwise encountered, and strengthen existing relationships by encouraging conversation that is likely to be topical and interesting to others.

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Digital Shot in Indian Women Cricket’s Arm

Cricket in India is a religion as it is repeatedly said by commentators, experts and fans. Indian men’s cricket team boasts of the biggest fan support in the world and thus enables Indian cricket board…

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Whatsapp

WhatsApp temporarily stores the media and messages of its users on its servers and this is done to increase the efficiency of delivery of additional forwarded messages.

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PM-WANI

Ericsson, in its Mobility Report for June 2020 states that in the year 2019, Indians have used about 12 GB data per month on an average which is the highest consumption…

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