Letter from the editorial team

Dear Readers,

“Leaders are born and not made,” is a famous phrase we have all heard numerous times.

The elusive qualities that separate a leader from a follower are honesty, delegation, communication, confidence, commitment, positive attitude, creativity, intuition and inspire. Then why is it assumed that these qualities cannot be instilled or one cannot be led on the path to leadership? All the great leaders that we have had in the history of mankind have emerged out of circumstances: whether we consider Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela. They did not set out to be a leader, but life set them up to a challenge. Thereafter, the choices they made along the way for the greater good, setting aside personal gains, made them an example for others. The process was certainly not overnight. They evolved over time, making many mistakes but constantly learning from them too. By this definition, anybody can be a leader. We just have to identify these qualities within us and nurture it.

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) has over 160 Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) across India in 80 districts and 22 states. Each CIRC is a mini DEF, which has to be led with the vision that

mothership organisation bestows upon it. And it means, it has to be self-sustainable, self-manageable and self-motivated. The coordinators of CIRCs have to assume leadership roles to drive various programmes and projects undertaken to enable grassroots communities in more ways than one. And we truly believe, anybody can be a leader given the right environment and impetus.

With this in mind, DEF held an intensive and interactive five-day workshop in Chanderi, (Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh) to ignite leaders within our coordinators and trainers. The future of India lies in the hands of innovative leadership emerging out of grassroots communities. Imagine India being driven by 70 per cent of rural population! That will be a proud day for all of us.

Cover Story
Building Leaders for Today and Tomorrow

A Training of Trainers workshop was conducted from September 20 - 24, 2016, in Chanderi’s Raja Rani Mahal (Madhya Pradesh) for the Coordinators and Trainers of DEF’s Community Information Resource Centres (CIRCs) supported by Indus Towers and Vodafone Foundation. The TOT aimed at providing the Coordinators and Trainers with technical skills required to operate digital portals, managerial tools, monitoring software, and communication tactics needed for the smooth functioning of the centres. It also aimed at orienting the participants on the curriculum, learning tools and implementation plan for English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE) Project funded by the British Council.

The Master Trainers for sessions were a team of experts from the British Council (Nataasha Southwell, Geeta Arora and Monika Koorichh) and DEF (Shahid Siddiqui, Mohammad John, Monica Sharma, Pushpender Singh, Sagar Jena, Hamid Ali and Sharada Kerkar. Read more


Knowledge Hub & Network

Manthan makes a regional debut in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has a thriving digital innovation culture, and has always contributed most nominations, after India, for the Manthan Award South Asia. So when it came to organising a sub-Manthan outside India for the first time, Bangladesh emerged as the natural destination. And so, BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Awards was held on October 8, 2016, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It received 113 nominations and 14 of them emerged as winners. These winners will get a direct entry into the Grand Jury of Manthan Awards 2016.
Time’s running out for NGOs to apply for eNGO Challenge
We are taking this opportunity to remind you all that the eNGO Challenge Awards 2016 is accepting nominations under several categories for grassroots organisations that are using ICT and digital tools to bring about a change. The awards, now in its fifth year, has focussed its attentionon social inclusion. Come and be a part of this empowering platform on December 2, 2016 at Surajkund, Faridabad, and witness the breakthrough initiatives being taken for the welfare of the society. The eNGO Challenge will be celebrated alongside Manthan Awards 2016.
CIRC Awards return for the second edition
The second edition of CIRC Awards was launched on September 1, 2016. The award accepts entries from CIRCs, Soochna Seva Kendras, ITE Kendras and Digital Public Libraries that showcase remarkable feats by implementing developmental initiatives through the effective utilisation of ICT tools. The platform aims to celebrate outstanding efforts in community outreach, achieving sustainability goals, enabling women empowerment, enhancing skills and ensuring information dissemination, among others. The CIRC Award will be held on December 2, 2016.
Listen, reflect and encourage use of social media
DEF in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation conducts Social Media for Empowerment Workshops in Tier II and Tier III cities of India. In this phase, we have conducted workshops in Bokaro, Kozhikode and Uttarkashi with NGOs, CBOs, bureaucrats, youth, academicians and entrepreneurs. Another such workshop is being organised in Delhi to enable participants in the advanced use of Facebook and Twitter for awareness, outreach and marketing. This workshop will be held at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on October 26, 2016.

Access & Infrastructure

DEF beneficiaries and staff share the Joy of Giving
CIRCs across India celebrated DaanUtsav from October 2-8, 2016, to define the truest essence of ‘Joy of Giving’. CIRC Sonapur in Assam celebrated the day by visiting a Residential Training Centre in Dimoria (a special school for underprivileged children). Various fun filled activities were conducted through the day, which included games and singing competitions. CIRC Sonapur staff also visited some tea gardens nearby where marginalised labour communities having been working on meagre wages and struggling for survival. Read More
Reaching out to organised labour in Andhra Pradesh
On September 19, 2016, CIRC Srikakulam team in Andhra Pradesh met Ms Susheela of the Mandal Development Office (MDO), who wanted to understand the functioning of CIRC. The Srikulam team has sought the MDO’s support in expanding its scope of work. Meanwhile, the CIRC has already started to reach out to organised labourers in the locality. Next on their agenda is to help them get benefits under the Velugu Programme, a statewide poverty reduction project launched to enable the rural poor to improve their livelihoods and quality of life.
In an effort to make Kooran an ideal village
A CIRC was inaugurated in Kooran village, Pali district of Rajasthan, on October 1, 2016, with a vision to connect the local community with digital technology and empower them. The centre has been opened in partnership with TATA AIG and Centre for Microfinance. Director of TATA AIG BD Banerjee, CSR Head at TATA AIG Mr. Sen, General Managers at Centre for Microfinance Kumar Ranjan and Vijay Singh participated in the inauguration ceremony, along with DEF representatives, panchayat heads and local community members.
Gandhi Jayanti encourages dialogue among communities
Gandhi Jayanti was celebrated with great fervour across CIRCs in India on October 2, 2016. Various activities were organised throughout the day such as gram sabhas, awareness sessions on education, discussion on the life of Gandhi and his school of thought. The centres in Rohtak district of Haryana directed their discussions towards saving the girl child while CIRC Shamsabad (UP) and Asthua (Bihar) shared their views on Gandhi. Meanwhile, the celebrations at CIRC Halduchaur were graced by State Cabinet Minister Harishchandra Durgapal.

Education & Empowerment

Five short films explore a ‘Digitally Enabled’ India
‘Digitally Enabled’ is a five-part video series that highlight the role of the Internet in our daily lives to bridge the knowledge gap between the policy-makers and the end users‎. The series is produced by the Alumni of US Government-sponsored Exchange Programs in collaboration with DEF and the US Mission to India. A five-week Twitter campaign to promote the five films covered the themes of Digital Inclusion; Social Media for Advocacy; Freedom of Expression; e-Governance & Digial Citizenship; and Cyber Security. Read More
Introducing India’s youth to tribal communities
Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation & the Indian Institute of Health Management Research University has recently launched a Certificate Programme in Rural Livelihoods. The six-week residential programme will see students travelling through 10 states of the Central Indian tribal belt, engaging with some of the leading organisations working in the area of rural livelihoods. DEF will be conducting the Functional IT Skills module for 12 days during the six-month programme, which starts from November 15, 2016. Read More
EDGE to empower adolescent girls with spoken English skills
Joining the mission of educating and skilling girls, the English and Digital for Girl’s Education (EDGE) programme will soon start a new batch of classes at 23 CIRCs across 10 Indian states. Launched under the partnership of DEF and the British Council, EDGE was successfully piloted and completed at four CIRCs last year. Now, the aim is to take EDGE to other rural and semi-urban locations, empowering a larger number of young girls to speak fluently in English and use digital skills. Two CIRCs in Alwar district of Rajasthan have initiated need assessment surveys.
Noorshaba dreams of becoming a digital entrepreneur
Noorshaba is a 14-year-old native of Saidanpur village in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh. With skills inherited from her family, weaving comes naturally to Noorshaba. Right after completing her high school, she had joined the Baank-e-Loom’s digital literacy centre and is now taking digital design classes. Noorshaba now incorporates her digital skills with weaving, and is often seen trying new patterns. At such a young age, Noorshaba wishes that every weaver of Saidanpur is digitally literate to apply digital knowledge to improve their weaving business.

Markets & Social Enterprises

Baank-e-Loom is launched officially amid fanfare
On September 26, 2016, Baank-e-Loom project was officially launched — by the project’s CSR partner Ericsson — amid eminent personalities and mediapersons of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The event, which was hosted at Taj Vivanta Hotel, saw DG UP Police Sutapa Sanyal and First Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah as the chief guests of the day. On the occasion, weavers associated with the project got an opportunity to exhibit their products and be appreciated for their variety and improvements in design and colour. Read More
DigiKala team is geared up to enhance visibility
In an effort to share DigiKala updates and milestones with a wider global audience, the project team, including trainers and coordinators, will soon be launching a three-month social media campaign in an effort to reach out to over 20,000 netizens on a daily basis. This will be achieved through photo stories, stories of impact, quotes from beneficiaties, Skype conversations and sharing of new designs from the handloom clusters. DEF’s video team has also produced a short film to highlight the efforts of the project, a collaboration of DEF and Microsoft. Read More
Chanderi weavers are trying new things
Several new initiatives are underway in the handloom cluster of Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, under Chanderiyaan project, to widen the range of products and enhance their demands in the market. Weavers associated with Chanderiyaan have started designing and stitching kurtis, other apparel and cushion covers from old sarees and dress material in the inventory. The weavers have also begun to experiment with tie-and-dye, and have made some beautiful Chanderi stoles. Block printed products, too, will be online for sale from the Diwali season.
Language is not a barrier for rural Tamil Nadu
Keeping in mind the language barrier for most people in rural parts of Tamil Nadu, digital literacy is being provided to students in both English and Tamil. Additionally, the medium of videos is frequently adopted by the trainer to ensure faster learning among students through an engaging and interactive medium. After watching one such video, nine-year-old Dhanusri (a first-time mobile user) asked the CIRC Coordinator if she could set an alarm on his phone. And without anyone's help, she was successful in setting an alarm on his smartphone. Read More
Digital clamour at Muzaffarpur is increasing
September was an action packed month for the eNGO Progamme, with workshops being conducted on ICT capacity building, website management, crowd funding and digital & management tools in various parts Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. One such workshop was organised in Muzaffarnagar on September 30, 2016. Attended by 36 organisations, the workshop focused on harnessing the power of the digital world and raised awareness about digital tools, social media platforms and digital content creation.

Governance & Citizen Services

Ensuring access to information for all
Often intended beneficiaries of public schemes and measures are unable to access benefits due to severe lack of capabilities, social structures, economic marginalisation, exploitation and discrimination, among other reasons. Absence of appropriate mechanisms and limited resources at the government level to disseminate important information is another hurdle. With this in mind, DEF and the European Union organised a state-level consultation in Rajasthan on ‘Information, Access & Delivery of Entitlements’ on September 16, 2015. Read more

Research & Advocacy

An overview of human rights online in India
DEF has submitted its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) contribution for India’s third UPR cycle, 2017, to the UNHRC. This joint submission presents an overview of the status of the exercise of human rights on the Internet in India, including with regard acccess to information, privacy, surveillance and monitoring in the name of intelligence gathering, attempts to weaken encryption, network shutdowns and other communication services. UPR is a process which involves a periodic review of the human rights record of all 193 UN Member States.
Special Features


Bondage in the age of freedom
In Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Brahma, while carving out the Universe, reserved the central space for the Sahariya Tribe. In the greed to occupy the central position, however, others pushed the Sahariya into the periphery. A disappointed Brahma, cursed the Sahariya for their incapability to maintain their position and abandoned them in the jungles. This Brahminical myth is perhaps designed to give a divine sanction to the plight of the Sahariyas. Since the birth of the Universe, very little seems to have changed in the lives of the tribe. Read More
Regular Features

ePostcard from Vimages

Cyber Champ of the Month

Involving men in the process to end domestic violence
My Choices Foundation’s ‘Respect 2 Protect’ was a two-phase viral campaign against domestic violence and child trafficking, endorsed by cricketers like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravi Shahtri and Ambati Rayudu. The NGO’s leadership has long had had a vision to include and champion men in the cause of ending violence against women and girls. This part of its DNA is reflected in the inclusive approach of their programmes that invite men to be a part of the process in ending domestic violence in their homes and communities and keeping their girls safe from trafficking.

e-NGO of the month

Enhancing human value for better livelihood
Darpan Foundation works towards the upliftment of socio-economic status of the underprivileged section of the society and is determined to enhance human value by providing them quality education, livelihood opportunities and a strong social awareness. It aims at providing free-of-cost education to underprivileged children along with nutritional support for the overall growth of children. It also regularly organises awareness camps by eminent personalities or government officials and encourages philantrophy among well-established people.

Scheme of the Month

Providing relief to families in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh’s Chandra Anna Bima Yojana provides relief to the families of unorganised workers in case of death or disability of the former. All India statistics indicate that Andhra Pradesh is one of the states with the largest number of such accidents. Hence, there is every need to provide accident death and disability insurance for social security. After implementing this social security scheme for transport drivers in the unorganised sector on a pilot basis, the state is now ready to extend it to all unorganised workers in the state.
Column of the Month

Bites from DEF's video channel

Digital Weavers

Digital Transformation

World’s a Stage

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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