letter from the editorial team

Dear Readers,

On February 21, the world will celebrate the United Nations-recognised International Mother Language Day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. With a similar aim, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) is proud to inform that it is launched a new initiative for schoolchildren. Read more about it in our cover story.

Another news that we’re glad to share is that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on February 8, 2016, proscribed differential pricing for data services, giving a big blow to Facebook and its Rs. 300 crore advertisement campaign for Free basics. In the last one year, there had been much debate about Facebook and certain service providers’ lobbying to provide “free access” to the Internet when in reality such services restricted free access and completely violated Net Neutrality. DEF has, throughout, strongly advocated against differential pricing and Free Basics. Our Founder-Director, Osama Manzar, has also voiced his opinion against the same on several occasions and on various platforms, including the Mint newspaper. On January 13, 2016, DEF responded to the TRAI consultation paper with a counter comment — drafted by Rajat Kumar and Ritu Srivastava from our Research & Advocacy team — and took a strong stand against any violation of the principle of Net Neutrality.

Apart from this, our next big story is about NGONAMA, which is all set to change the dynamics of the development sector. The online portal provides a channel to activists, NGOs, civil society organisations as well as philanthropic individuals and organisations to take part in social activities by contributing their time, effort, expertise and funds. NGONAMA encourages organisations to be transparent in their work, thus, helping them raise funds through various fund raising techniques.

Another big story from our end is that for the first time a World Crowd Sourcing Summit will be held in India. Corporates, not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises and innovators will get an opportunity like never before at this two-day summit, which is being organised by DEF, where they will get the chance to share knowledge and collaborate.

Last month, a Grand Jury sat together in Rajasthan to shortlist winners out of 60 Finalists from a total of 200 nominations for the Social Media for Empowerment (SM4E) Awards. The Gala evening on March 15 will not only be about felicitating winners but also about an enlightening panel discussion on ‘Individual Rights in the Digital Era’. Read more about it in our Knowledge and Hub section.

This time, we also bring you a travelogue by team mate Udita Chaturvedi who travelled to the remote village of Tilonia in Ajmer district of Rajasthan and returned truly impressed by the work being done at the Barefoot College. Besides this, we have the usual updates from Digital Edge, Cyber Champ of the Month and Scheme of the month, among other sections.

Let us not stop you any further from diving into all the updates we have to offer in this issue. Also, don't forget to send us your feedback.

Cover Story
Digital Labs being set up to upgrade schools in 10 cities

DEF is going back to school, literally. In partnership with global IT consultancy giant Capgemini, DEF has taken up a project called 'Raising Standards of Education through Digital Intervention' under which it will adopt government schools within a 50 km radius of 10 cities in India – New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Salem, and Trichy - to provide on-ground IT support to students and teachers. Under the project, the selected schools will be those which primarily have students coming from the economically weaker sections of society.

In the first phase, the project will focus on 10 schools in and around Noida. "The project was inaugurated on February 5, 2016," DEF deputy director Syed Kazi informed Team DEF. "We have obtained permission of the district administration and the selection of schools is going on to carry out the baseline survey," he said. Training of people recruited as trainers has also been completed.

The project envisages setting up DEF's time-tested model of Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) at each of the 10 schools. The objective will be to upgrade each school in an integrated way by setting up a computer lab, providing broadband Internet connectivity using wireless technology along with improvements in the school library, playing grounds, sanitation, health and hygiene facilities. Teachers will be trained to use digital tools to adopt e-learning and digital teaching methods while parents too will benefit from digital services to be provided by the CIRCs.

On January 20, DEF also launched the English and Digital for Girl's Education (EDGE) programme in collaboration with the British Council. Read More


Social Sector & CSOs

NGONAMA ready to launch, starts accepting registrations
DEF's e-NGO programme is all set to launch its revolutionary online international crowd funding platform NGONAMA. The portal is aimed at bringing together from all around the world development sector NGOs, activists and individuals on the one hand as well as individuals, government agencies and corporates interested in funding and promoting such work on the other. The portal will enable easy connectivity between like-minded people. The days of searching for right partners to work with or identifying potential funders is over. NGONAMA is the solution! Visit www.ngonama.org/register/ and get registered today! Read more
eNGO open its first Resource Centre
To accredit the grassroots organisations and communities with digital literacy, DEF has come up with an eNGO Resource Centre in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, with an aim to empower and support the rural development agencies. The resource centre is enabled with computers, Internet and Wi-Fi, which will provide a platform to partners to empower all the communities in their area with digital skills. For these centre, DEF will provide start-up funds, operational support and skill development support to help selected partners accomplish our common goal. eNGO is likely to open two more Resource Centres soon.
India's first-ever Crowd Sourcing Summit will be in September
Cyber City in Bengaluru is getting ready to host the first-ever Crowd Sourcing Summit in India on September 9 and 10, 2016. It is being organised by DEF in collaboration with the global platform Crowdsourcing Week (CSW) and will be open to anyone interested in the concept of crowd sourcing. Masters from the field of crowd sourcing will be present to speak about the concept during the summit. Businesses and civil society organisations are expected to benefit immensely from participating in the summit, which is committed to help transition of organisations into a more open, connected, and productive society. Read more

Research & Advocacy

An enlightening workshop on Internet Right and Human Rights
DEF organised a two-and-a-half day training workshop on Internet Rights and a one-and-a-half day Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Advocacy Workshop in New Delhi from February 3-6, 2015. The workshop brought together representatives from various human rights organisations and human rights defenders towards building a network of individuals and organisations who raise their voices in support of issues concerned with various online human rights violations. MKSS member Nikhil Dey and DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar set the stage for workshop-cum-training where they spoke about the Right to Information and it’s interlinkage with ICTs. Read more
Call for papers for ‘Individual Rights in the Age of Digital Medium’
Taking forward the partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, an independent non-profit committed to promoting liberal policy and politics, we are hosting a summit on ‘Individual Rights in the Age of Digital Medium’ in Bengaluru, Karnataka on September 30, 2016. For the same, we invite papers on themes around (i) Access, Openness & Diversity; (ii) Emerging Issues & Solutions; (iii) Security, Privacy & Development; (iv) Policy, Regulations & Ethics. The last date for submitting abstracts is March 25, 2015.DEF since its inception is bridging the digital divide, providing means to access information. Read more
DEF & FNF to host SM4E curtain raiser summit on individual rights
DEF is organising a one-day summit on 'Individual Rights in the Age of the Digital Medium' with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in September, 2016. It will be an academic event focused on information exchange, encouraging dialogue and to develop strategic partnerships between individuals and organisations working towards a better understanding on individual’s rights online. As a prelude to the summit, we are also organising a 90-minute curtain-raising panel discussion on the topics of access, openness, security, privacy, policy, regulation and ethics. Join us at Social Media for Empowerment Awards on March 15, 2015, to attend this curtain-raiser.

Enterprise & Markets

Six weavers win DigiKala Odisha Handloom Design Competition
Six weavers – three each from the Barpali and Nupatana handloom clusters in Odisha – have won the DigiKala Handloom Design Competition. On January 12-13, DEF founder director Osama Manzar and Microsoft Lead (Community Affairs, CSR) Manju Dhasmana awarded certificates and cash prizes to the winners during a small ceremony in the area. More than 200 participants - weavers from the two clusters and others – participated in the event. The contest is one of the first steps in the implementation of the DigiKala Odisha integrated handloom cluster development programme initiated by DEF in partnership with Microsoft. Read more
DEF adds Trichy to its handloom cluster map
India’s craft traditions and skills, passed on from generation to generation, are not just an important part of its cultural identity but a crucial means of sustenance for numerous communities. As per unofficial figures, there are about 20 crore artisans who form the backbone of India’s non-farm rural economy. Keeping this in mind, DEF in partnership with mPhasis has initiated a project in Tiruchirappalli that primarily involves inclusive and decentralised use of ICT and other digital tools. The project aims to bring a ray of hope for Trichy’s weavers, as DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar says. Read more

Knowledge Hub & Database

Come, applaud the SM4E winners on March 15, 2016
DEF is all set to celebrate the spirit of social media as a platform for empowerment and development of the masses on the occasion of the third edition of ‘Social Media for Empowerment Awards & Summit’ (SM4E) on March 15, 2016. This initiative not only honours best social media initiatives from eight South Asian countries but also brings together people from diverse backgrounds such as experts in the field, government officials, academicians, activists, entrepreneurs, innovators, students, film-makers, bureaucrats and journalists to share success stories and their views on some of the best practices. Read more

Access & Infrastructure

CIRCs make 6,000 people digitally literate in two months
CIRCs across the country have collectively achieved the target of making over 6,000 people digitally literate in the months of November and December 2015. Elaborate planning, meticulous steps, constant support and regular mobilisation has helped CIRC staff across India to strengthen their connection with the grassroots, and enabled them to communicate to the masses the importance of computer education for their growth and progress, especially to those confined to the marginalised sections of the society. Today, CIRCs have reached a number of 150, marking presence in 80 districts, covering 22 states. Read more
CIRC Anjaiahnagar organises special training in e-Governance
CIRC Anjaiahnagar, located near Hyderabad in Telangana, conducted a special session on e-Governance on December 26, 2015. Students were taught how to access government sites and schemes and how to utilise the same. The session also included training on e-Commerce and online shopping, as well as Internet security. Students were also asked to speak on current topics, such as pollution and population control. Public speaking is a regular activity at the centre and has been helping students boost their confidence. Moreover, IT professionals periodically deliver training sessions for community youth on various ICT subjects.
dCIRC Latur offers financial management training to women
On January 11, 2016, dCIRC Latur in Maharashtra organised a training session for the women of Kasar Sirsi town so that they could take financial decisions in their daily lives. Around 200 homemakers and entrepreneurs participated. Women were made aware of SHGs, how to apply for bank loans, inclusion of women in MGNREGA, government schemes and special entitlements. Bank managers, local women leaders and SHG representatives were present to educate and provide thorough guidance to the participants. The training is expected to make the participants more capable of managing their financial affairs.
CIRC Pakri mobilises villagers for computer education
Staff of CIRC Pakri, Bihar, recently conducted mobilisation activities at three locations in Manguraha village. People from all age groups in the village as well as employees and customers at a local bank participated in the community meetings. At all three locations, people were made aware of the CIRC in their locality and the various digital services they can easily avail there. They were also informed about how computer education is important for children as well as adults and were encouraged to visit the centre for training in digital literacy.
Water conservation rally in Baran motivates people to save water
On January 18, 2016, CIRC Kunjer of district Baran in Rajasthan conducted a water conservation awareness rally at Jirod village. The region's water table has gone down to 400 feet and so it was deemed urgent to sensitise people on the alarming situation. With the village panchayat and school children pitching in, an awareness rally was held followed by a meeting where the community was told why it needs to conserve water and how it can do so. Sarpanch Devendra Singh also addressed the villagers and urged them to come together and take every possible step to save water for themselves as well as for future generations.

Education & Empowerment

British Council organises training session for EDGE programme trainers
DEF in collaboration with the British Council launched the ‘English and Digital for Girl’s Education (EDGE)’ programme in India on January 20, 2016, on a pilot basis across five CIRCs, as reported earlier in this newsletter. Before implementing the project on the ground, the British Council organised a two-day training session for trainers at the DEF office on January 14-15, 2016. Project implementers were given thorough orientation to the programme and training on how to work with the content material as well as how to deliver activity-based learning for students.

Governance & Entitlements

Jawabdehi Yatra salutes the spirit of Kotpulti people
Sikar is the 24th district of Rajasthan wherein ‘Jawaabdehi Yatra’ has witnessed an abysmal picture of stone mMining when the team was invited to visit Shuklawas village in Kotputli. The entire village is severely affected by illegal stone mining and its deadly impact where debris from blasts can be seen on houses, fields and even schools. With heavy dust in fields where vegetables are grown and air that perpetually feels dusty, children and adults are breathing sand and dust day in and day out, leading to serious respiratory and other health problems. Read more
Soochna Seva participates in Tehri-Garhwal health camp
Tehri-Uttarkashi Vikash Parishad organised a 'Health Camp' at a primary school of Kandikhal Panchayat in Thauldhar block. This event was a part of the inaugural ceremony for the opening of a new skill development centre at the school. Vikram Singh Negi (MLA), panchayat pradhan and other representatives, school teachers and participants from nearby villages were present at the occasion. The participants tested their blood pressure, sugar and blood samples. A Soochna Seva stall informed people about various government schemes and people's entitlements and how the Soochna Vahan van goes to interior locations and serves the masses.
Soochna Seva mobile centre inaugurated at Barmer village
A Soochna Seva mobile centre was inaugurated at ‘Surte Ki Dhani’ village in Dhanau block of Barmer district on January 18, 2016. Around 70 men and women from nearby villages participated in the meeting. The Soochna Seva team informed participants about various government schemes such as Sukanya Subhalaxmi Yojana, VidhwaYojana, PootriYojana, BPL cards, etc. During discussions, the team came across many cases in which people were being deprived of their legitimate entitlements under various schemes including MNREGA. The team spoke to bank officials to rectify the mistakes.

Digital Edge from Mint

DEF provides content for a weekly page Digital Edge published by Mint newspaper every week. Here are pointers to the two latest reports published in December.

Deconstructing cybercrime
Indian companies are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals. This spurt is due to the increase in the number of people accessing the Internet, increase in the number of smart phone users and the growing popularity of transacting platforms such as mobile banking and mobile wallets, according to a recent KPMG survey. Read more
Changing mobile landscape in India
As attitudes towards mobile phones change and more people wish to be connected, the number of senior users and users from smaller cities and towns is increasing, according to a recent report. Read more
Special Feature

Travel Log

Barefoot College leaves a deep footprint
The organisation may call itself Barefoot College (BFC), a world famous institution located in Tilonia — a remote village 35 km from Ajmer city in the semi-arid and hilly district of the same name in Rajasthan — but it leaves a deep footprint on the minds of anybody who cares to visit it. Today, Tilonia is often described as a model village thanks to the extraordinary development work carried out by BFC. DEF team member Udita Chaturvedi was in Tilonia from January 5-8, 2016, to carry out a Wireless for Communities survey at BFC. She came back absolutely impressed. Read more
CIRCs celebrate 67th Republic Day with great fervour
The 67th Republic Day was celebrated with great vigour at CIRCs across the country on January 26, 2016. Besides hoisting the Tricolour, CIRC staff and students organised a myriad of activities and programmes at their respective centres. CIRC Pakri in Bihar organised a drawing and painting competition for children. dCIRC Wadsa in Maharashtra, too, organised a painting competition where children expressed their vision of a ‘Progressing Nation’. At CIRC Mansoorpur in Bihar, beautiful rangolis in saffron, white and green welcomed the visitors while dCIRC Tamnar in Chhattisgarh organised a prize distribution ceremony for an essay writing competition held previously with at a local school.
Regular Features

Cyber Champ of the Month

Arun Yellamaty hits the right note helping the poor
Meet 27-year-old Arun Daniel Yellamaty, founder of the Youngistan Foundation and the Hunger Heroes and Transformers project that has in a short span of two years roped in 700 volunteers who buy raw materials, cook food and provide more than a 1,000 free meals to the poorest of the poor across four cities – Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi NCR and Bhopal. He used social media to the hilt to build up his movement. For his work, he was picked as a Winner in the e-Inclusion and Accessibility category of the Manthan Award 2015. Young Arun is a musician and member of a music band. Read more

e-NGO of the month

Child In Need Institute (CINI)
Founded in 1974 by a pediatrician, Dr Samir Chaudhuri, CINI is located in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. It primarily works to improve the health, nutrition, education and protection conditions of deprived children and women. It runs operations in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh, assisting about five million people. Today, CINI has grown into a 1,900-strong organisation and is widely known globally as one of the most influential institutions working for poor children in India. CINI has been a recipient of numerous prestigious awards around the world and is also one of the first NGOs in India to come forward and migrate to the .NGO domain. Read more

Scheme of the Month

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is a unique initiative started by the government of India that aims to offer 24 lakh Indian youth meaningful, industry relevant and skill-based training. Under this scheme, the trainees will be offered a financial reward and a government certification on successful completion of training and assessment, which will help them in securing a job for a better future. It is the flagship outcome-based skill training scheme of the new Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). The scheme provides for training in 562 job roles. Read more
Column of the Month
Rajesh Verma, Former Secretary, Government of Sikkim

What ails ICT in the government?

It was an honour being a member of the Grand Jury for the Manthan Awards. I was particularly impressed by the number of entries from the government sector some of which were very innovative. This set me reminiscing about the 36 years that I had spent in the government mostly implementing telecommunication and information technology projects. I think I now know what ails ICT in the government and what needs to be done to realize the Holy Grail of full e-governance. I think that is a goal that is now finally achievable. Read more

Videos from DEF archive

Pondicherry workshop on social media empowerment

52 Parindey: Towards a more organic lifestyle

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 on a designated page called 'Digital Edge'.

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News to know

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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