Osama Manzar is a global leader on the mission of eradicating information poverty from India and global south using digital tools through Digital Empowerment Foundation, an organisation he founded in 2002. A British Chevening Scholar and an International Visitors Leadership Program Fellow of the US State Department, Osama is a social entrepreneur, author, columnist, angel investor, mentor, and sits on several government and policy committees in India and outside working in the areas of Internet, access, and digital inclusion. Osama has instituted 10 awards for recognising digital innovations for development. Osama writes a weekly column in Mint and tweets at @osamamanzar. 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 Professor of Economics at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad, visiting Professor at the Indian School of Business and Advisor to the government of Telangana. His educational background includes a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the Osmania University and a Masters diploma in Management from the Institute of Management at Anand. He has a PhD from the Jamia Millia Central University at New Delhi. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Business and Law at the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia and Head of Strategy and Planning at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is the Editor of the Journal of Development Policy and Practice published by Sage. His latest book, edited with Dr Rajiv Kumar is titled Education and Health: Special focus on UP.
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 CEO and Founder of CreditMate.in – a fintech focused on mass market, new to credit lending in India. He is also a board member of Mobile Streams, an AIM listed mobile content company. Prior to founding CreditMate he built BillBachao.com which he sold in 2015 to one of India’s largest business groups. He has lived in India for 8 years arriving initially with Vodafone as part of a decade long career creating mobile internet services for developing markets across India, the Middle East and Africa. Pre Vodafone Jonathan was Commercial Director of Real Media an ad tech business sold to WPP in 2002.
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.
Natasha Badhwar is an independent film-maker, media trainer and columnist. She is the author of My Daughters’ Mum, a heart-warming book on essential subjects, from selfhood and faith to parenting and marriage. At its core, it is searingly personal, and yet the emotions and experiences are astonishingly universal. She writes a weekly column on relationships, family and society in Mint Lounge. Natasha began her career in broadcast journalism with NDTV as the first female videographer in news television in India. She quit 13 years later as Vice President, Training and Development.
N Ravi Shankar is a 1980-batch IAS officer who returned from the central deputation to be appointed as the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand, which was his last role prior to his retirement. Previously, he had occupied several key positions in Uttarakhand before being sent on deputation to New Delhi in 2007 from where he returned to Uttarakhand.
Dr. Ganesh Natarajan is Executive Chairman and Founder of 5F World, a platform for skills, start-ups and social ventures in the country. He is also Chairman of Global Talent Track, a pioneer in employability skills training in Asia. He led APTECH, a global training major, for 10 years, was Vice Chairman and CEO of Zensar Technologies, a global software success story, till early 2016. His industry responsibilities include Chairman of NASSCOM Foundation, President of the HBS Club of India, and Member of the National Council of the CII. He is a Global Board Director of Social Venture Partners and Convener of SVP Pune. Author of nine books, he believes in the triple bottom line approach to management and leadership.
Amitabh Singhal is the Director of Telxess Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd. and Vcon Services Ltd. He was the Founder and former president of Internet Service Providers Association of India. He also was a Founder, Board Director and CEO of the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI). He helped conceptualise and set up NIXI as a public private partnership between ISPAI and the Department of Information Technology, Government of India Singhal was also involved in restructuring NIXI as an autonomous registry and regulator of the .in domain (Indian ccTLD), including its commercial launch, drafting and implementing the INDRP, and appointment of registrars, etc.
Dr. Madanmohan Rao is the research director at YourStory Media, charter member of TiE Bangalore, and research advisor at the Asian Media Information and Communication centre (AMIC). An author of five books, he was formerly the communications director at the United Nations Inter Press Service bureau in New York, and vice president at IndiaWorld Communications in Bombay. Madan is an editor and DJ in world music and jazz, and writes for World Music Central and Jazzuality. He produced channels on jazz and world music for RadioWalla.in, and was previously world music editor at Rave magazine, and RJ at Worldspace Satellite Radio.