Learning, advancing and evolving

“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” – George Bernard Shaw.
Bharat is an idea, a dream. It is constitutionally based on the principles of secularism and diversity. A lot of people declared that Bharat would never survive. How could a country sustain, which is a confluence of diverse religions, cultures, languages and ethnicities? It’s impossible! The differences would make people fight and kill each other. But we have not only survived for the last 70 years, but are growing faster than many countries which are based on one religion and one language. Interestingly, it is our diversity, which has held us together. It hasn’t been without its challenges though. Intolerance and sectarianism raises its ugly head off and on as witnessed in many instances; but Bharat has always prevailed. Every new idea struggles to find its feet before it starts running. And even after finding its feet, there will be constant challenges. Perseverance is the key if we truly believe in something. After all, faith is all we have; otherwise nobody would step out of the assembly line to create value for themselves and society. Prayag has been a unique idea, a dream. Read More

Connecting the other half
Most of those who are excluded from access to the Internet are at the bottom of the pyramid, mostly residing in developing countries. Read More
Digital looms large
Household income of weavers in Nuapatna have tripled following digital interventions in the processes of designing, archiving, marketing and sales. Read More
Digital rights & digital divide
When one comes across the words ‘digital rights’, one cannot help but associate them with words like hierarchy, privilege, entitlements, diversity, human rights and division. Read More
Thirst for knowledge
There is no limit to learning online; the Internet is full of information—all one needs is a thirst for knowledge Read More

Patna, Indore & Gandhinagar are setting examples for India
The fourth annual ‘District Collector Digital Champion Award’ was organised at Surajkund Mela Ground, Faridabad, on February 25, 2017. The awards look at recognising and encouraging dissemination of ICT practices and implementation of ICT at large to break the traditional mode of public delivery mechanisms in day-to-day governance. This year, we received 50 nominations from various districts; 16 of them were shortlisted as Finalists. On the night of the Awards Gala, three district collectors were announced as Winners and three others received Special Mentions. To see the list of winners, click here.
Felicitating grassroots changemakers
The 5th edition of the eNGO Challenge Awards took place amid varied colours, knowledge exchange and cultural essence that was all witnessed under one crown — Prayag 2017. Winners of the Challenge were declared and acknowledged at a unique space that recreated a village scene where rural women from Bihar could be seen participating in a street play, midgets could be found walking on stilts, and children could be observed enjoying making puppets in a corner. Winning initiatives had shown exemplary efforts in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives and Afghanistan. The complete list of winners can be seen here. Read More
Twenty-four initiatives from South Asia win Manthan Awards
The 13th edition of Manthan Awards was hosted under the umbrella of Prayag at Surajkund Mela Ground, Faridabad, on February 25, 2017. This year, we received 296 nominations across nine categories from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. Of the total nominations received, 65 were shortlisted as Finalists. Seventeen initiatives were awarded as Winners and seven others received the Jurors’ Special Mention at Manthan Awards Gala. A complete list of winners can be seen here; and glimpses from the event can be found here. Our Awards book is also available online now.
Last few days left to submit SM4E nominations
Are you using social media for entertainment, sharing of ideas, creating communities, development and change? Is your social media campaign helping build a better future? If yes, share you successful social media campaign with us and help it win the Social Media for Empowerment (SM4E) Award. SM4E Awards are open for NGOs, individuals, institutions, groups, government officials, media, academia, corporates, citizen journalists, social leaders and entrepreneurs to submit their nomination. In the past, Youth Ki Awaaz and Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department, among others, have been our winners. It could be you this year.
Honouring DEF’s unsung heroes
The second edition of the CIRC Awards was held at Prayag on February 25, 2017. The award, which was held amid much fanfare, celebrated those centres that have brought about positive transformation in their communities. Eleven centres were declared winners across five categories. CIRC Tura won the Uniqueness and Innovation Award while award for Inclusiveness in Service was awarded to CIRC Puducherry. The awards for the category Impact to Community was given to CIRC Mahodara and CIRC Bakanpura; while CIRC Barpali and CIRC Erumad won the Programme Diversity Awards. Read More
An upstart movement for North East
Keeping in mind the nascent startup and entrepreneurship environment in North East India as well as in consonance with the Government of India’s focus on building and creating home grown startups under the Central government’s ‘Startup India, Stand up India’ scheme, ‘UPSTART’ North East Startup Challenge Programme was organised at the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIEC) Campus, Guwahati, on January 20, 2017. It was organised by the North East Development Foundation (NEDF) and DEF along with IIE — and with support of the North Eastern Finance Development Corporation (NEDFi) and other agencies. Read More
Empowering women through mobile literacy
DEF has partnered with Azad Foundation to take a mobile literacy module for women as a part of the latter’s Feminist Leadership Programme. Twenty women, from various areas of Delhi, were trained to use a smartphone, create digital content and effectively use various social media applications, including WhatsApp and YouTube, to digitally mobilise their respective communities on various social issues. The two-day workshop helped the women achieve functional digital literacy to enable them to incorporate digital tools in their community projects that the 20 identified women will undertake at the end of the Feminist Leadership Programme.
Internet brigade is taking Bihar and MP by storm
Google Internet Saathi programme, which is being implemented by DEF in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, is in full swing. Trainings in Bihar were successfully completed in February, taking the total number of Saathis active on the Collect App to 1,264. Holistically, the initiative has reached out to more than 1.2 lakh beneficiaries across 2,444 villages. It has been the success of the project that saw Chief Minister Nitish Kumar even attend one of the training sessions. Meanwhile, trainings have concluded in four districts of Madhya Pradeesh and is now in the last phase (in Shivpuri district of the state).
Giving an edge to girl child education
DEF, with support from the British Council in India, is glad to announce the successful introduction of the English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE) programme at 23 locations of India. A ceremony to commemorate the same was held on the sidelines of Prayag at Surajkund Ground, Faridabad, on February 25, 2017. EDGE envisions empowering adolescent girls from marginalised communities to make more informed and independent life choices in order to contribute fully to family, the economy and the society; to have improved English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues. Read More
Leveraging technology in education
The year 2017 is an opportunity for the Integrated Approach to Technology in Education (ITE) team of DEF. Official permission has been granted to DEF to scale up ITE to 20 more government schools in Nagaon district of Assam. However, such opportunity also brings challenges which need to be dealt with sensitivity and tactically. Therefore, this February, awareness and mobilisation regarding ITE among various stakeholders (government teachers, district RMSA officials and local communities) was carried out. Similar drives were also carried out at six ITE Kendras in Nagaon and West Garo Hills districts. Read More
Defining the sketchy lines of knowledge
Thirty-four-year-old Pranita Das is an Adhoc Office Assistance at the local Gaon Panchyat in Sonapur, Assam, where she is required to carry out a number of tasks on the computer on a daily basis. However, her knowledge of computers was limited and sketchy, which often affected her output at work. To overcome these barriers, she enrolled herself at CIRC Sonapur. Today, she can confidently use all computer applications, including desktop publishing tools. When Pranati is not at work, she can be seen helping her neighbours find information about government and citizen services online.
Digital literacy and a window of opportunity
Forty-four-year-old Derilla R Marak is a self-employed woman now. However, there was a time when she felt as though there were no opportunities for her to grab. It wasn’t until her friends told her about computer classes at CIRC Tura that she began to see windows of opportunities for herself. At CIRC Tura, she began with basic computer knowledge and went on to learn Photoshop, PageMaker, Corel Draw, besides learning how to access information online — all under the Women for Empowerment programme. Armed with her computer knowledge, she now provides marginalised people with low-cost digital services. Read More
At 67, she is pursuing her graduation in Assam
Usha Rani Deka (67) had spent almost her entire adulthood in regret. When she had put her college dreams on hold due to various family and economic reasons, she had given up on the hope of achieving higher education ever. However, she’s set an inspiring benchmark for her community members by enrolling herself for a Bachelors’ programme under the Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University through CIRC Sonapur. Through her engagement with the CIRC, she has also learnt basic digital literacy and DTP tools, helping her come out with a few publications of her own. Read More
A fashion show by celebrated weavers & not designers
“Jhini jhini bini chadariya; Kaahe ka tana, kaahe ki bharani; Kaun taar se bini chadariya?” In these lines, Kabir says , “I have run mere cotton threads for the warp and weft. But how did God, the Master Weaver, make this finely woven fabric we call skin that we wear all our lives? What is the warp? What is the weft? What fine thread does he use?” With this thought, Antarang, a handloom fashion show, was commenced on February 25, 2017, in Faridabad to showcase designs from five handloom clusters where DEF works. DCDP is an initiative of DEF in partnership with various government and CSR bodies. Read More
Team Baank-e-Loom expands its radius
Supported by Ericsson and DEF, Team Baank-e-Loom’s latest mission is to make 50 women digitally literate in Parsa village of Barabanki district, Uttar Pradesh. Primarily engaged in farming, on their own land or as agricultural labourers, the women of the village have shown great interest in learning computers. One student, Savita, particularly enjoys typing her name in English, erasing it, and then writing it again. She hopes to learn to operate a computer enough to find out about fair pricing of grains across the country. Last month, Parsa village hosted its annual Basant Mela where Baank-e-Loom had put up an information stall. Read More
Chanderi charms with traditional music and contemporary range
On the occasion of Basant Panchami on February 1, 2017, a soothing classical musical evening titled Baiju Bawra was hosted at Chanderiyaan’s project site, Raj Mahal, in Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh). The evening saw some beautiful recitations celebrating the onset of spring, which entertained the audience in the well-maintained ruins of the monument. Meanwhile, laptop sleeves are the latest introduction to Chanderiyaan’s range of products. Available in a variety of colours and block prints, these laptop sleeves have been made from waste pieces of cotton fabric used by handloom weavers in the cluster.
Musiri is set to transform into a digital handloom cluster
Project Musiri, an initiative of Mphasis and DEF, was officially launched at Hotel PL.A Residency in Tiruchirappalli (Tamil Nadu) on February 17, 2017, amid the presence of esteemed guests. The project aims to digitally empower the handloom weavers of Musiri who are known for making cotton sarees and veshti. The launch event was attended by Chief Guest and Mphasis CEO V Suryanarayanan, Development Commissioner (Handloom) from the Ministry of Textiles in Chennai Vishesh Nautiyal, Deputy Director (Handlooms) from Salem Zone P Vasu, DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar, and 20 weavers from Musiri. Read More
Creating an army of future entrepreneurs
A special workshop was held on February 26, 2017, when DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar addressed coordinators and trainers of CIRCs from all over the country. The aim of the training was to introduce CIRC 2.0, the new sustainable model of CIRCs, to the team. The discussion focused on the larger vision of DEF and CIRCs, the challenges coordinators face on ground, their personal dreams & aspirations — and how the same can be achieved by being accountable for one’s actions and becoming a citizen instead of a consumer. This year forward, CIRCs aim to become self-sustainable and community-owned.
Strengthening rural entrepreneurship mindset
On February 26, 2017, an all-India Soochnapreneur (SP) capacity-building meeting was organised in New Delhi. The agenda of the meeting was to follow up with the identified SPs, address their concerns, ease them through Mera App and design a mechanism for maximising participation. The meeting was attended by 100 SPs, representing local teams from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. Addressing the SPs were DEF Deputy Director Syed Kazi, DEF Founder-Director Osama Manzar and Senior Manager Wireless Reach at Qualcomm Anirban Mukerji. Read More
Creating awareness on digital security
The Research & Advocacy Team used the platform provided by Prayag on February 25, 2017, to spread awareness about the importance of digital security among Internet users. A digital security toolkit created by the team was available for interested individuals to take home. It helps Internet users understand the basic measures they need to take to keep themselves safe online. The toolkit answers various pertinent questions such as what should you do if your log-in details are stolen or what should you do if you need to carry sensitive data, among others. The team has also prepared a list of Do's and Don't's to ensure child safety online.
Exploring Internet shutdowns in India
The Research & Advocacy Team of DEF explores Internet shutdowns and human rights violations in India through the launch of an interactive map available on www.internetrights.in. According to a secondary research carried out by the team, India has witnessed as many as 63 cases of Internet shutdowns since 2012. An Internet shutdown takes place when ISPs are instructed by the State to snap 2G, 3G, GPRS, lease line or broadband services in specified regions, thus violating freedom of expression, association, and assembly. You may click on the QR codes on the map to know more about each case.

Making of Manthan 2017

India’s digital citizens

Connecting communities

The future in a Networked Society
Manoj Dawane
VP & Head Technology Corporate Responsibility,
Ericsson India
We live in a world today where mobile, broadband and cloud are transforming the fabric of society. The advancement in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) has led us to work towards what we call a Networked Society, where everything that can benefit from being connected will be connected. Technology is not just transforming industries and businesses but is having a profound impact on our society. In line with the vision to use technology and our skills to make this world a better place, we want to be a responsible and relevant driver of positive change in the society. Read More
Netiquettes for the digital community
Cyber-Gyan India is Mohit Sahu’s individual campaign in collaboration with Chattisgarh Infosec Society. Cyber Gyan believes that being aware about cybercrime/law and protection techniques is key factor in reducing cybercrime. It targets some local groups, communities and schools that talk about ‘etiquettes’ (sanskar) but not netiquette (cyber sanskar). Sahu is taking Cyber Gyan sessions across the country and envisions to collaborate with ministries to offer regular classroom credit course in schools. Read More
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Digital Empowerment Foundation aims to connect unreached and underserved communities of India in an effort to bring them out of digital darkness and empower them with information access through last mile connectivity, digital literacy and digital interventions. Established in 2002, with the motto to ‘Inform, Communicate and Empower,’ DEF aims to find sustainable ICT solutions to overcome information poverty in remote and rural locations of India.

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