Letter from the editorial team

Dear Readers,

Mobile phones are truly transforming our lives; and mBillionth Awards is the most potent testimony to this fact. By 2020, mobile phones would have overtaken every single digital device to become the prime source of connectivity and communication. It would bridge the wide gap that currently exists between urban and rural India. All signs point towards it quite categorically.

First of all, let us begin with the nominations; 348 nominations from across South-East Asia. India alone accounted for 275 nominations. The number of nominations we receive every year is consistently on the rise. This proves an important point that an ecosystem for innovation in the digital space is well on its way, slowly but surely.

Second, the superior quality of nominations did not make the lives of jurors any easier. The level of competition was extremely high. But to their credit, the jurors did not back down from the challenge either.

To reiterate some key observations enumerated by some of our jurors. Manoj Dawane, VP & Head of Technology at Ericsson India, believes, “A new society is emerging and we call it, The Networked Society.” Madanmohan Rao, Research Director at Your Story

Media, felt, “Mobility entrepreneurs are looking at larger impact areas like consumer, public health benefits, and human rights.” Lokesh Mehra, Director of Education Services at Symantec Software Solutions Pvt Ltd, observed, “Spurt of mobile phones have led to huge developments of app; and IAMAI guesstimates that 1,00,000 to 6,00,000 jobs could be created in app development sector alone.”

Preeti Sinha, Senior President & Global Convener of Yes Institute at Yes Bank Ltd, asserts, “The flow of information, money, employment and connectivity enabling e-commerce, e-governance and e-communication powered through mobiles would bring efficiency, convenience and transparency in the system.” platforms Clearly, the mBillionth Awards is giving way to a future we are moving towards as beings of collective consciousness, year after year since 2009.

Cover Story
mBillionth 2016 awards 31 initiatives

On July 23, 2016, about 300 people gathered at Eros Hotel, Nehru Place, to celebrate innovative mobile solutions in South Asia. Organised and hosted by Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in partnership with Google and Qualcomm, the 7th mBillionth Awards was held with much fervour to recognise some of the best initiatives being taken in the telecom industry with a vision for mass development through ICT. This year, the mBillionth Awards received 348 entries from India, Afghanistan Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malvides, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal. Out of these, 69 were shortlisted as Finalists. Twenty-five initiatives were awarded as Winners across 10 categories while six others received the Jurors’ Mention at mBillionth Awards Gala on July 23rd. A complete list of winners can be seen here.

Keynote speaker and Founder of Goonj, Anshu Gupta addressed the innovators in the evening and motivated them to focus on innovations that affect rural lives and not just urban alone. Making cabs available at the touch of a thumb and products of the mall in your palm is not development unless health, education, financial security, social security, water, land and food reach every individual.

Earlier in the day, the mBillionth Awards started with a welcome note by DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar, and a power-packed inaugural session on the theme ‘Transforming Lives with Mobile’. Read more


Knowledge Hub & Network

Let’s show the power of the crowd to the world
Here are five reasons you should register for India’s first Crowdsourcing Week Summit in Bengaluru on September 10, 2016: understand how crowdsourcing gets your customers and potential customers involved; identify how crowdsourcing gets your target audience to invest; know how crowdsourcing offers you diversity and creative choices; grasp how crowdsourcing inherently atomises your content marketing process; and unravel how crowdsourcing platforms and opportunities speeds up the content creation process and free you up.
Collector Kozhikode joins hands with DEF to improve administration
DEF in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) and with support from the District Collector of Kozhikode hosted a Social Media for Empowerment Workshop in Kozhikode on August 12, 2016. The keynote speaker and chief guest, Prashanth Nair, District Collector & District Magistrate, Kozhikode, is known for setting examples of excellently in utilising social media. He commands more than one lakh followers on Facebook, addresses each of his young audiences and leads innovative crowd-funded campaigns through social media. Read More
Dehradun organisation wins a free website in a lucky draw
The eNGO team organised a lucky draw on the sidelines of the 7th mBillionth Awards on July 23, 2016, in New Delhi. The prize was a free website with the .in domain. The objective of the contest was to promote the requirement and importance of online presence for every organisation. The contest was valid for a day, and participants were free to nominate friends or colleagues. The winner — R. Stephen Diyali from the Mission for Anath Development & Welfare Society in Dehradun, Uttarakhand — was chosen by a lucky draw of the 28 nominations.
Nominations now open for 5th eNGO Challenge 2016
Nominations for the 5th eNGO Challenge are now opens for all non-profit organisations across South Asia. The eNGO Challenge aspires to create an ecosystem of best practices by recognising and honoring NGOs which are using ICT and digital media tools for good governance and practices that are benefiting societies and communities at large. It is a joint initiative of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) and DEF. All NGOs that have inculcated ICT and digital media tools in their initiatives to create an impact are encouraged to apply.

Access & Infrastructure

Feelings of pride & honour mark Independence Day Celebrations across CIRCs
CIRC across the country celebrated the 70th Independence Day with great fervour. Respective centre staff along with students began planning out the festivities days ahead of the celebrations. On 15th August, centres were decorated with hues of the tricolour. The onset of celebrations at respective centres was marked by the hoisting of flag. Centres invited local dignitaries to grace the ceremony. As the tricolour fluttered high, an array of cultural activities followed. Read More
Protecting child rights online
For children, the Internet is a magical entity to quench the thirst of curiosity. However, networking etiquettes, Internet safety and online privacy needs to be discussed. As per a UNICEF poll, over 40 per cent of the 10,000 young people across 25 countries began using the Internet before they were 13 years old. UNICEF, through its #EndViolenceOnline campaign, aims to amplify these young people’s voices and better understand a generation growing up online. “Protecting children from abuse and exploitation is everybody’s business,” says UNICEF. Read More
Learning computers for personal and professional growth
Team CIRC from Hyderabad participated in ‘Digital Kaushalta Ki Aur’ programme, organsied by Oracle in partnership with the State Bank of India, on August 6, 2016. An SBI General Manager inaugurated the programme, which included a digital workshop for government school students. Oracle and SBI volunteers will help enhance IT literacy among students, teachers and parents from over 100 SBI-supported government schools through this initiative. Team CIRC educated participants on the importance of computer skills and the Internet for growth.
CIRCs of Gujarat connect with self-help groups
On July 19, 2016, dCIRC Mandvi team in Bhuj district of Gujarat conducted a meeting with self-help group (SHG) women in Bayat village. The meeting was presided over by Regional Manager of the Shri Vivekanand Research & Training Institute, Mr. Anish. Three days later, dCIRC Dhanpur in partnership with local NGO Utthan Sansthan conducted an awareness meeting with SHGs of village Bhaurana in Dahod district of Gujarat. Personnel from NABARD were also present at this meeting to encourage women to learn computers.
CIRC Sonapur thanks senior citizens with a health camp
For a while now, CIRC Sonapur in Assam has been acknowledging the contributions of senior citizens of the community. As a thank you gesture, the CIRC has been helping build a more age-inclusive society. On August 8, 2016, the CIRC team, in collaboration with Sri Sankaradeva Netralaya, observed Senior Citizens' Day at Jogdal village where a special eye-clinic camp was set-up for a day. Close to 80 senior citizens visited the camp for a general check-up or to seek medical help for their eye problems. The team plans to organise more such health camps in future.
New digital resource centre opens in Tehri Garhwal district
On August 8, 2016, a CIRC was inaugurated in Shivpuri village of Bhilangana block in Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand in partnership with Oracle. The centre was inaugurated by Bhilangana Block Head Shri Vijay Ghunshola. Also present on the occasion were Block Development Officer Shri Bijendra Prasad, District Magistrate Shri Brijesh Kumar, the Additional Development Officer and Gram Pradhans. While explaining the roles of CIRC and Soochna Seva, Prasad urged the community to make the best use of the facilities to learn computers and access information.

Education & Empowerment

Bringing 18 lakh more women online
‘Internet Literacy for Women’ is a thought that is supported by Google India and Tata Trust. The programme, to be implemented in five districts of Madhya Pradesh and six districts of Bihar, is an initiative under the ‘Helping Women Go Online’ project which aims to ensure inclusion of women by bringing them online. As implementation partner, DEF is looking forward to empowering rural women through digital literacy training and workshops. This will be achieved by engaging more than 3,000 rural women to train more than 18 lakh rural women. Read More
Initiating positive behavioural changes
CIRC Tain in Nunh district of Haryana has been connecting with communities and institutions to initiate positive behavioural transformation in the village. The centre, along with the Haryana roadways and district authority, recently conducted a road safety awareness workshop for community members, besides a sit-down session at an orphanage where children were educated about government schemes that would benefit them. This was followed by a drug de-addiction workshop at a government girl’s school.
CIRC Halduchaur celebrates its first aaniversary
CIRC Halduchaur in Haldwani district of Uttarakhand celebrated its first anniversary on August 1, 2016. Village Pradhan Inder Bisht, Regional Support Personnel Ravindra Sharma and centre staffers Tulsi and Naval celebrated the occasion with students from the centre and local community members. The day was marked by a series of activities, including a cultural performance and students sharing their experiences with digital technology, followed by a certificate distribution for students who had completed the course.
Summer camp keeps students busy during school vacation
Nagaon district of Assam is home to three ITE centres in Dragaon, Juria and Alitangani. All the three centres organised a 13-day summer camp for their students in the month of July. At least 30 students participated at each camp. As part of the activities, the students also sent post cards to the Deputy Commissioner of Nagaon, sharing their grievances related to teaching, learning and their schools. Further, Centre Coordinator Gulzar and other staffers organised expert guest lectures for students on topics like health, hygiene, education and self-governance.
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 CIRCs, which has been established in partnership with Mphasis. Even though they are teachers at a government school, they never got a chance to take a look at a computer, let alone work on it. Their knowledge of digital tools was restricted to their feature phones. Read More
Telangana CIRCs receive guidance from a NASSCOM awardee
On July 15, 2016, CIRC Hyderabad in Telangana gathered at CIRC Anjaiah Nagar to celebrate World Youth Skills Day. Raghu Kunchustambham, CEO and Founder of Concept Waves, was the chief guest of the day. Kunchustambham, who has over 15 years of experience in engineering scalable connectivity and mobility platforms, has received several accolades, including the NASSCOM award for Tribal Social Innovations. He spoke to the CIRC youth and provided career guidance in line with the UN theme 'Skills Development to Improve Youth Employment'.
Empowering women through digital literacy and knowledge of rights
As an effort to help empower women socially and digitally, CIRC Kapashera in Delhi, along with local NGO Naari Shakti, organised a community gathering on August 2, 2016. This event gave around 60 women a space to get together and interact, raise issues and suggest solutions. One of the key objectives was to develop confidence and trust among mothers to send their children, especially daughters, to the centre for digital literacy. Meanwhile, Naari Shakti addressed gender-based issues and educated women about their rights.
Planting saplings for a greener today and better tomorrow
On August, 2016, CIRC Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh participated in the annual Vana Mahotsava in Sarpavaram. The event was graced by the presence of the Educational Officer of Mandala and the Sarpanch of Sarpavaram. The programme was successfully conducted with support from Anganwadi teachers. In July, CIRC Jauhar Academy School in Ranchi, too, undertook the initiative of conserving the environment. In presence of Forest Officer Vimal Lakra, students and teachers of the school, along with CIRC coordinator Soma Sarkar, planted saplings around the campus.

Markets & Social Enterprises

Clusters celebrate Nation Handloom Day with great fervour
The second National Handloom Day was celebrated across DEF centres with great enthusiasm on August 7, 2016. With the objective of spreading awareness about handloom, the centres turned into platforms to discuss different styles and art of weaving in India, the situation of the handloom industry, and digital solutions that can improve the livelihood of weaver communities. The handloom clusters of Nuapatna and Barpali in Odisha even organised a cycle rally to mobilise weavers to enroll for digital literacy and digital designing classes.
Improving livelihood through one initiative at a time
Project Chanderiyaan has immensely contributed to the growth of the handloom cluster of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh from a Rs. 65-crore industry n 2009 to worth Rs. 150 crore today. Average household incomes have more than tripled from Rs. 2,500 due to various consequences of ICT interventions. Alternate sources of livelihood have been opened for local youth. Tourism has been promoted as another revenue earning stream. Tele-medicines services have made access to quality health care easier. Read more
Saidanpur children to soon enjoy the joys of a library
Last month, entrepreneur Jyotsna Kaur Habibullah from Lucknow visited the Baank-e-Loom centre in Saidanpur village of Uttar Pradesh, and offered to establish a library for children. Accompanied by DEF staffer Utkarsh Rajawat, she also met district education officials and the staff of Fatehchandra Inter College in Safdarganj to discuss plans for creating awareness about hygiene and girl child education. Meanwhile, the Baank-e-Loom team was invited by a public school and a college in Khanpur to encourage students to enroll for the digital literacy.
Upskilling traditional artisans and craftsmen of India
The eNGO Programme trained around 30 participants from various weaver groups and non-profit organisations in ICT in New Delhi, on July 18, 2016. The objective of the training was to strengthen individual and institution capacities. Daniel Thomas from Accenture addressed the need of digital inclusiveness while Namrata Jaitli from CAF India expressed the need to promote Indian handicraft in international markets. The workshop was organised in partnership with AIACA, which was represented by Executive Director Madhura Dutta. Read more
Artisans learn to use digital marketing tools
Weavers & Artisans ‬of Varanasi learned how to incorporate digital touch in their work through a capacity building training on ICT tools in Varanasi on August 11, 2016. The eNGO team of DEF trained 30 weavers and artisans, associated with the AIACA, in digital marketing and selling products through social media and eCommerce platforms. The training also focused on digital content creation and e-Tools like WhatsApp and Google Drive. Another similar workshop was organised in Varanasi on August 12 for NGOs, CSOs and MSMEs in the region.
Making communities wireless in Narayanpet
DEF, in partnership with the Internet Society, has started a Digital Smart Village Centre in Narayanpet, Telangana, under its Wireless for Communities project. Established in a handloom cluster, the project aims to digitally empower the weaver communities, besides building capacities of youth. At present, 100 students are enrolled at the centre for the digital literacy. These students have been divided into batches of four for the smooth execution of daily classes. The centre also offers local community services like photocoping and printing.
A mother learns by watching her son
Palanivel is a 15-year-old Tamil-speaking boy who is studying in Class XI at a government school in Musiri village of Tamil Nadu. He comes from a weaver household, and is a young weaver himself who regularly visits the Musiri digital resource centre for digital training. A few months ago, DEF in partnership with Mphasis, established a digital resource centre under project ‘Musiri’. Palanivel learnt about the centre when the local centre staff was energetically mobilising the community members to enroll for digital literacy classes. Read More
A carpenter is learning computers to sell his products online
A carpenter by profession, Mohd Ali is a man who has sharp inclination towards learning the tools of computer and advantages of the Internet. A 21-year-old native of Akbarpur, a small village in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, Ali completed his graduation two years back. Two months ago, Ali visited the Baank-e-Loom centre to enroll himself at the centre, and was soon learning the basics of computers and the use of Facebook, Google, Gmail and WhatsApp. Ali now wants to adapt computers for his profession to improve the livelihood of his eight-member family.

Governance & Citizen Services

Making entitlements reach rural communities
This year, Soochna Seva has helped villages across five districts of India to avail benefits under 20,046 schemes. Soochna Seva Kendras are located in the areas of Ranchi (Jharkhand), Barmer (Rajasthan), West Champaran (Bihar), Guna (Madhya Pradesh) and Tehri Garhwal (Uttarakhand). Launched in partnership with the European Union, Soochna Seva teams helped people avail benefits under 48,586 schemes in 2015. Request for government approved documents have been the highest this year, followed by demands for social security schemes.
Taking forward Kasturba Gandhi’s vision
The Soochna Seva team in West Champaran, Bihar, recently established a CIRC in Kasturba School in Gaunaha panchayat where 137 girls are enrolled from Classes VI to X. The “school” is actually an ashram where Kasturba Gandhi once taught with a vision to empower girls. In 1984, the people of Bhitiharwa village donated their land for this school for girl child education. A committee was formed to supervise the functioning of the institute; in 2012 the committee included youth for the holistic development of children. Read more
Building a link between panchayat representatives and Soochna Seva
Today, information is the key to emancipation; and Soochna Seva, a project supported by the European Union and executed by DEF, aims to ‘inform’ the ‘uninformed’. In order to do this, Soochna Seva teams regularly hold public meetings, workshops and seminars, besides facilitating access to public schemes and benefits. To build the capacity of panchayats in West Champaran, Soochna Seva organised a workshop-cum-facilitation programme for the newly elected panchayat representatives in five blocks. Read more

Research & Advocacy

Public Wi-Fi hotspots can be new PCO booths
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently released a consultation paper to seek clarification on a regulatory approach to proliferating broadband through public Wi-Fi hotspots in India. DEF recognises the importance of this consultation paper and has submitted its comments. In addition, DEF Founder-Director has penned an article in Mint, highlighting the importance of opening up public Wi-Fi booths — just like the now almost extinct PCO booths — for digital inclusion and penetration in urban rural India.
Understanding the feminist approach to technology
Ritu Srivastava and Shivani Lal of DEF’s Research and Advocacy wing travelled to Taipei in Taiwan to attend the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum and a workshop for Women Human Rights Defenders between July 23 and 29, 2016. The workshop focused on feminist approaches to technology and the challenges faced by regional woman human rights defenders in the online and offline space. Issues of Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly were also discussed along with possible solutions.
Regular Features

Cyber Champ of the Month

Building a child-friendly nation
Mechanisms and measures to keep children safe need to extend beyond those directly accountable for child protection, to all stakeholders of society. Concepts of child protection need to extend beyond traditional understanding of abuse to look at access and deprivation. To raise awareness, garner support and spread awareness on various child-related issues, Childline India Foundation has been making conscious efforts to ensure a child-friendly nation that guarantees the rights and protection of all children.

e-NGO of the month

For an employed and dignified life
Darpan Foundation in Odisha works towards social upliftment of rural communities through quality education; and for strong social awareness in an effort to enable them towards an employed and dignified life. The organisation also encourages bright students from Classes IX to XII, who belong to unprivileged families and are unable to bear the cost of higher studies, to pursue further education by providing them free-of-cost coaching. Among many other initiatives, Darpan Foundation also looks after the nutritional needs of these children.

Scheme of the Month

PM’s vision of ensuring LPG in every household
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is an ambitious social welfare scheme of the Narendra Modi government launched on May 1, 2016, from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh. Under the scheme, the government aims to provide LPG connections to BPL households in the country. The scheme is aimed at replacing the unclean cooking fuels, mostly used in rural India, with the clean and more efficient LPG. Its aim is to provide five crore LPG connections in the name of women in BPL households across the country, thereby reducing some serious health hazards.
Column of the Month
Accelerating development through digital empowerment

Preeti Sinha
Senior President & Global Convenor, YES Institute, Yes Bank

The world is today closely connected through ever faster communication channels and means of travel. The interplay of advanced communication technology, energy systems and automation is driving change in all spheres. Much of this change has been catalysed by the digital revolution which is now penetrating to the masses with the potential to impact the lives of millions at the bottom of the pyramid. Read more

Bites from DEF's video channel

Light after tunnel

Access is hope

Cash in trash

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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