Letter from the editorial team

Dear Readers,

Jun in Spain is known as a Twitter town because every single resident of the town has a Twitter account. In fact, the moment a child is born in the town, he/she gets a Twitter account first before anything else. Residents of Jun use Twitter to interact with their local and central governments, reporting crimes, fixing appointments with doctors, etc. In India, inclusion is a complicated process because even in a small town we often cater to a large and diverse population. Therefore, it is imperative to include all the stakeholders for maximum impact.

However, social media is transforming the rules of governance and access even in India. And so are facilities like e-banking and e-health.

When a woman is empowered, one can be rest assured that the benefits would organically flow into the family, and eventually the society. A society cannot grow without addressing the basic needs of its women population. Tribal areas in India are often known to be difficult to access, and this reflects on the basic health facilities available for tribal women. Jakhli is one such tribal village in Madhya Pradesh. The nearest hospital is 10 kilometres away.

We, therefore, introduced tele-medicine services in the village through our Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC), and we can see it becoming a key source of empowerment for the tribal community, especially women.

In an effort to explore alternative spaces for expanding rural economy, we also organised a haat (local market) in our office space. Delivery of fresh mangoes straight from the gardens of Farukhabad (without any layers of middlemen involved) or pure honey from the herbal hills of Chanderi would be just a few clicks away on our smartphones in the times to come. You will read more about such initiatives in this issue of Digital Empowerment Foundation's (DEF) newsletter.

Cover Story
Tele-medicine connects women of Jakhli with affordable healthcare

Despite the great strides taken in the field of affordable medicine and healthcare, a large section of the country’s population lacks access to health services. It has been observed that availability of quality health infrastructure confines to semi-urban and urban-scapes, isolating remote regions. In such a scenario, tele-medicine has given people of Jakhli the power to connect and interact with health experts and specialists beyond their village.

A tribal village situated in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, Jakhli lacks even the most basic facility of a primary health centre (PHC). The closest hospital is 10 kilometers away from the village. CIRC Jakhli, a digitally equipped space, therefore, proved to be an ideal place for conducting tele-medicine consultations.

From its very inception, CIRC Jakhli has been dedicated towards bridging the digital divide in the village. Now, the centre has taken another step forward by synergising the available digital infrastructure with healthcare services. Regional Coordinator Masroor, along with personnel from local partner organisation Pradan, consulted doctors from missionary hospital and sought their support in providing people of Jakhli with online medical consultations. The doctors readily welcomed and appreciated their initiative and were more than eager to offer their virtual support to the villagers. Read more


Knowledge Hub & Network

Creating sustainable social change globally
World Summit Award (WSA) Congress Singapore 2016 from June 29 to July 1, 2016, recognised the role digital innovation plays in sustainable social change. Forty WSA winner, social entrepreneurs and innovators congregated to connect with thought-leaders, ICT experts and stakeholders to enable a knowledge transfer through presentation of best practices in creating a sustainable impact on society. DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar was a panelist in one of the sessions to discuss ‘Digital Answer to Information Poverty’. Read more
Social media is an integral tool for information access
Social media has changed the paradigm of communication in the 21st century; governments have become more present on social media to communicate with a new socially engaged audience online. In order to generate awareness, outreach and discussion, a Social Media for Empowerment Workshop was organised for various stakeholders in Bokaro by DEF and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, and supported by the District Collector of Bokaro. The platform also gave the stakeholders an opportunity to build a network.
The power of crowd drives the future
Less than two months are left for the Crowdsourcing Summit Week: Bengaluru edition to be held in Karnataka on September 10, 2016. With more than 25 eminent players from the field of crowd sourcing and crowd funding lined up as speakers, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to hear their success stories, share ideas with each other and collaborate for a world of shared economy. Remember, the seats are limited and you can avail the Early Bird Discount if you register soon. For more information, write to cswsummit@defindia.org.
Transforming lives with mobile solutions
The most ingenious awards of the year is all set to celebrate the Gala evening on July 23, 2016, at Hotel Eros, Nehru Place in New Delhi. As many as 69 mobile innovations from eight countries will be demonstrated and a select few will be awarded with the mBillionth Award 2016. Several telecom players, including app developers, are congregating to share their innovations that have been changing the society. You can discuss your ideas with them too, if you register to attend the event. For more details, contact lucky@defindia.net.

Access & Infrastructure

Taking forward an Indian revolutionary’s vision
On July 4, 2016, a new CIRC was inaugurated in Chintapally region of Andhra Pradesh. The day also marked the 129th birth anniversary of Alluri Seetharam Raju, a revolutionary who was known for his battle for the tribal communities. CIRC Chintapally has been established with the objective of taking forward Raju’s vision of ‘uplifting the local tribal community’ — with digital education, access to information and empowerment. Circle inspector Rudhra Shekhar Garu along with local school and college faculty and students participated in the inauguration.
Social media opens a window for donations for drought victims
The power of social media was realised by the people of Marathwada in Aurangabad district of Maharashta when dCIRC Bhavan collected large donations in kind for drought-affected families following a social media appeal. Donations collected included food grains, clothes and stationery items, which were then distributed in school and households. Marathwada is a region where several farmers have committed suicide this year, dCIRC staff has thus been counseling farmers and have enrolled children of vulnerable families for digital literacy.
Digital Chaupal gathers a large crowd in Mewat
A special village fair was organised in Nunh tehsil of Mewat district in Haryana on June 15, 2016, as part of an initiative taken by the District Judge. At the fair, DEF was invited to set up a Digital Chaupal to provide legal awareness and support to the villagers. Staff from the DEF Delhi headquarters as well as from CIRC Tain took the lead in making visitors aware about various opportunities lilnked todigital literacy. Besides demonstrating and explaining the locals about CIRC, digital and solar devices were put on display and kept open for a hands-on experience.

Education & Empowerment

CIRC Manguraha begins solar training for villagers
On June 22, 2016, CIRC Manguraha in West Champaran district of Bihar launched solar training classes for community members, besides basic digital literacy and digital services. Solar training would help people from all age-groups to enhance their skills and open new livelihood prospects in the field of solar engineering. Besides the solar training initiative, Regional Coordinator of Bihar Saeed Siddiqui has a strong ambition to link villages to health centres and hospitals to make quality healthcare accessible to the villagers for higher standards of living.
Tribal children reach out to Vaithikuppam staff for training
The staff of CIRC Vaithikuppam in Puducherry has been recognising‪ neglected sections of the community and empowering them with digital education. After transgenders and HIV infected children, they have now begun working with children of a Scheduled Tribe living in the vicinity of ‪Auroville‬ Village Action Group, where, one day, a few ‪‎tribal‬ children noticed the classes in action and expressed their desire to learn computers. Nearly 30 tribal children are learning computers now. The staff is now planning to help 40-odd families avail government benefits.‬‬‬
CIRC Tura helps 139 girl students bag scholarship
CIRC Tura in Meghalaya has been creating awareness among students and adults about access to information, especially education schemes, for a while now. Late last year, the CIRC had informed girl students of various schools about Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Scholarship, following which 170 schools in and around Tura applied for it. As many as 139 of them have now been awarded the scholarship under which they have received Rs. 12,000 for education. With this scholarship, many students now have the opportunity to acquire quality education.
Digitally illiterate till last year, now a digital entrepreneur
An Anganwadi worker in Matchakolgre, Tura district of Meghalaya, Suchitra R. Marak (36) is the sole bread earner in her family. Completely unfamiliar to computers, she signed-up for a six-month computer orientation course at CIRC Tura last year. Following recognition under the W2E2 project, she received a printer, camera and laptop, which Suchitra used with utmost efficiencyto establish a successful digital services shop where she offers facilities like photocopying, printing and surfing, thereby bringing in additional income into the family.
Summer camp keeps students engaged in Nichalagarh
While schools were on a summer break, the staff of CIRC Nichalagarh in Sirohi district of Rajasthan tried to make the best use of children’s time by organising a summer camp from June 14-17, 2016. Multiple activities were organised to keep children and adolescents engaged. Over 70 students participated in an array of activities including race competition, musical chairs, math & science workshop, origami, painting, English speaking efficiency, singing and dancing. Entertaining and educational films were also screened to inculcate good habits in youngsters.
New batch of students graduate from CIRC Mansoorpur
CIRC Mansoorpur in Vaishali district of Bihar recently carried out certificate distribution for its latest batch of students who have completed the Basic Digital Literacy course. Managed by coordinator Kiran and trainer Raghav, CIRC Mansoorpur is a unique centre in its own way. It screens inspiration and educational videos on its façade — transforming the white wall into a projector screen — every evening, creating an open-theatre environment for passersby and locals who gather every evening outside the centre.

Markets & Social Enterprises

Team Ericsson visits project site in Barabanki
Manoj Dawane, Subhangi Kitchloo and Sumana Sarkar from Ericsson India visited the Baank-e-Loom centre in Saidanpur, Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh), with DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar on June 16, 2016. The four met members of the village community, especially weavers and children, and enlightened them on how digital tools can provide them a better future. Baank-e-Loom is project initiated in the handloom cluster of Saidanpur in partnership with Ericsson India. Weavers in this part of the region make gumchhas or stoles and do zari embroidery.
Sixty-year-old learns to upload his song on YouTube
Nambiyar Khan (60) is a watchman by profession. Two months ago, the staff of Baank-e-Loom centre saw him singing with a group of men in Saidanpur. Impressed by his voice, they invited him to sing for the centre students. During this visit, Khan learnt about the importance of digital literacy, and showed keen interest to learn computers to access information/entertainment content and share his songs with an audience that is not limited to a teashop. On July 29, 2016, Khan uploaded his first video on YouTube with trainer Utkarsh Singh Rajawat’s assistance.
CIRC trainers turn career counsellors in Odisha
Under project DigiKala, the digital integrated resource centres in the handloom clusters of Nuapatna and Barpali in Odisha organised door-to-door mobilisation for digital literacy and CATD (digital designing) training. The two centres also held digital literacy classes for self-help groups in the region and group discussions with various stakeholders, besides career counseling sessions for youth to discuss better livelihood opportunities. DigiKala is an initiative of DEF and Microsoft aimed at digitally empowering the weaver communities using digital tools and ICT.
eNGO join hands for Social Good in Chandigarh
Taking further its objective of enhancing grassroots organisations’ online presence, visibility and reach, DEF’s eNGO Programme organised a Multi-Stakeholder Capacity Building and Skill Development Workshop in Chandigarh on June 23-24, 2016. The workshop saw 75 participants, representing NGOs, panchayats and academicians, taking keen interest in ICT tools, skill development, CSR engagement and funding opportunities. The workshop focused on issues and challenges in the development sector, and discussed how ICT can help. Read more
Fresh mangoes and pure honey leave everyone charmed
In June, DEF launched Haat India, an initiative to source products by rural masses and make them available in cities by reducing the role of middlemen. As a part of the pilot initiative, a mini-stall was set-up at DEF’s Delhi office from June 24-26, 2016. Freshly picked mangoes from the gardens or Farukkhabad in Uttar Pradesh, and pure honey from the herbal hills of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh were available for sale at the haat. Through this initiative, we realised there are several layers of middlemen that can be reduced to expand rural livelihood.

Governance & Citizen Services

Reducing the distance between information and access
Phone Saathi is an initiative that has been launched this month to make access to information about G2C services just a call away. People in rural and marginalised communities can simply call on +91-8130313910 and a Soochna Seva Phone Saathi will answer all their queries about government schemes and entitlements related to health, education, livelihood, employment, financial inclusion and social security. Phone Saathi is an initiative launched under the Soochna Seva project, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by DEF.
Building a better-informed future for rural youth
‘SoochnaPreneur’ is a project that has been launched by DEF in partnership with Qualcomm to select, train and promote a batch of rural youth and entrepreneurs who can take up, run and own rural information service business. This project has been launched in Alwar and Barmer in Rajasthan; Guna in Madhya Pradesh; Ranchi in Jharkhand; West Champaran in Bihar; and Bargarh in Odisha. SoochnaPreneur will strengthen the poor information scenario in rural communities of India that are deprived of critical information. Read more

Research & Advocacy

Safeguarding digital shadows
On July 11, 2016, a Digital Security and Safety workshop was conducted at DEF headquarters to make the staff aware about the threats of being online and how to safeguard oneself from such threats. Rajat Kumar along with Jayanti Bapat and Chitra Chauhan from DEF led the workshop, which was attended by 15 individuals. Among the topics discussed at length were the correlation between the real world and the digital world; profile building through digital shadows; password hygiene; encryption for communication; and social media privacy settings; among others.
Regular Features

Cyber Champ of the Month

A sustainable model for empowering children and women in rural India
The mission of ‘Udaan’ is to promote digital literacy across rural India through sustainable business enterprises owned and operated by women. Udaan aims to take the benefits of digital literacy and digital education across rural India by providing village students with access to digital literacy (over a period of three years) by using computers that would otherwise have been discarded by corporates and households, while also providing full-time income to a woman who is equipped with the right training but had no entrepreneurial opportunity until now.

e-NGO of the month

Strengthening sustainable livelihood systems
Grameen Development Services (GDS) strives for ‪economic‬‬‬ and ‪social‬‬‬ empowerment of the disadvantaged sections of the society. With support from various national and international funding and implementation partners, GDS works in regions characterised by structural ‪poverty‬‬‬ and extreme social and economic backwardness across Uttar Pradesh‬‬‬,‪ Bihar‬‬‬ and ‪Rajasthan‬‬‬. The objective of the organisation is to create and strengthen sustainable livelihood systems through community-based participatory approaches and techno-managerial inputs.

Scheme of the Month

DTH to make quality education available in hinterland
The HRD Ministry recently approved a scheme that allows 32 direct-to-home (DTH) television channels to telecast content prepared by experts for school and university students. Called Swayam Prabha, the scheme was approved by then HRD minister Smriti Irani and is likely to be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August. A toll-free helpline will also be available to answer queries of students post telecast. The ministry hopes that the daily four-hour telecast, including live lectures from IITs, will help students in the countryside. Read More
Column of the Month
Social media is going to change everything, and for better

Rahul Nainwal
Co-Founder, India Fellow Programme

Social media is one the best things to have happened in the last 10 years or so. It has given voices to the voiceless. At the same time, I feel empowered to share with a larger audience what I feel or do. This was virtually impossible earlier unless you were a hot-shot editor or a prime time anchor. Imagine sharing your opinion on an editorial or a government policy before social media arrived; you could hardly debate or discuss. Flow of information was one way. Read more

Bites from DEF's video channel

Enabling better eye care

Tracking tuberculosis

The digital growth of Rozy

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.
House No. 44, 3rd Floor Kalu Sarai, (Near IIT Flyover),
New Delhi – 110016
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