Mobile Societies have revolutionised communication
Thirty-two initiatives won hearts and the mBillionth Awards 2017 at Eros Hotel, New Delhi, on August 4, 2017 amid much celebration and powerful discussions. Now in its eight year, mBillionth Awards South Asia was conceptualised to recognise and felicitate mobile-based initiatives that are leading the world towards development and change. Read More
Dissecting the rural information society & economy
India’s Dissecting the rural information society & economy On August 3, 2017, DEF in partnership with Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach organised an event to celebrate a year of SoochnaPreneur. The event, SoochnaPreneurship 2017, hosted a workshop that invited Rural Information & Digital Entrepreneurs (CSC VLEs, SoochnaPreneurs... Read More

What is the future of jobs?
Future of jobs would lie in treating information as a commodity, learning to retrieve required information from the Web and disseminating the information in a timely manner. Read More
Govt's stand on driverless cars akin to opposition to computers in 1980s
Before India simply shuts the door on driverless cars, it needs to see the opportunities it offers and provide. Read More
Digital Empowerment Foundation to train 100 women entrepreneurs
DEF seeks to identify and train 100 women entrepreneurs who can eventually set up rural information enterprise units within the next one year. Read More
Why Rural India does not miss big screens
Mobile movie vans, smartphones and free-to-air channels offer people in villages cheaper and easier access to entertainment. Read More

DEFdialogue with installation artist Subodh Kerkar
DEF hosted it first DEFdialogue on July 21, 2017, with Subodh Kerkar, installation artiste and Founder of Museum of Goa. Kerkar spoke about ‘Reclaiming Gandhi through Art’, a project initiated by him. In the hour-long session, he talked about Gandhi’s philosophy and how the Father of the Nation earned respect not just in India but all around the world, so much so that he was often represented in American pop culture, Nazi Germany souvenirs and Italian news media, to name a few. Mahatma Gandhi has been a symbol of love, empathy and non-violence, and Kerar wishes to reconnect today's youth to the Gandhian philosophy. Read More
An effort to financially include thousands
DigiPrayas volunteers in 36 villages across five states have completed a three-month long Digital Financial Literacy Awareness Campaign, an initiative of DEF and Axis Bank. The training was centred on opening bank accounts, using debit cards, accessing ATMs, availing Internet and mobile banking services, paying bills online, recharging mobiles via Net and even shopping online. Through this initiative, more than 8,000 individuals have been mobilised to come under the umbrella of financial inclusion. Further, at least 40,000 others were exposed to the importance of holding bank accounts through group meetings, film screenings and street plays.
Bihar builds an army of Internet Saathis
As many as 11,18,000 women and girls, across 5,873 villages in six districts of Bihar, have been trained in basic digital and Internet skills under the Internet Saathi project in collaboration with Tata Trusts and Google. Planned as a ripple effect, DEF trained 1,606 women in switching on and off a phone, browsing Google for food recipes, tailoring patterns, music videos and other websites of internet to expose them to the world of Internet. Each of these women then further trained thousands of others in and around their villages in digital tools and exposed them to the Internet. With that, Internet Saathi has completed its Bihar Chapter.
Bringing Gandhian philosophy to digital literacy
CIRC Narkatyaganj is located in a small village in Bihar, not very far from an old Gandhi Ashram. This is the reason that volunteers and staff at the CIRC strongly influenced by Gandhian philosophy, and aim to combine moral values with modern technology. Inspired by Gandhi, the CIRC not only offers digital literacy and digital services but also houses a charkha to encourage and teach youth to spin cotton. CIRC Narkatyaganj is one of the 10 CIRCs established by DEF in collaboration with Oracle and CAF India to make 5,000 community members digitally literate across nine states of India.
Nurturing young leaders in Assam
Summer vacation is a time for children to enjoy and engage in various social, cultural, physical and educational activities that they are usually not able to participate in during school days. Leveraging this time, DEF’s Integrated Technology for Education (ITE) team in Assam organised five warm up ITE summer camps in Asanang, Jengjal, Juria, Dagaon and Alitangani blocks where more than 150 children from 30 primary and upper primary schools participated. The short summer camps, organised between July 4 and July 15, 2017, aimed at creating young leaders who think critically and act responsibly. Read More
Using digital literacy to advocate for a healthy environment
A second batch of students, who have successfully completed the digital literacy course at CIRCs Mangalam and T.Pet in Tamil Nadu under DEF’s Digital Cluster Development Programme, were awarded their certificates on completion on July 29, 2017. The certificates were distributed in the presence of Chief Guest Mr. Nesan from the Cuckoo Forest School who addressed the students on the importance of living in harmony with our nature and using digital literacy as an advocacy tool for a healthy environment and nature. Students were also handed seeds to plant in their houses and cotton bags to replace plastic bags at their homes.
Hundred new learners join the digitally literate club
A Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC), established in Noida (Uttar Pradesh) in partnership with Capgemini, organised a ceremony last month to give away certificates to 100 learners who have completed their course in basic digital literacy. Young girls and boys took this opportunity to share their learning experiences, and talk about the theoretical concepts and practical activities that they were exposed to. Some girls emotionally expressed, “We were hardly allowed to get out of our homes but CIRC made it possible for us to get out and learn. We hope this centre never shuts down."
Celebrating rural India’s youth
DEF celebrated #WorldYouthSkillsDay on July 15, 2017, to acknowledge the rural youth of India who are committed to honing their skills for a better future. We second the UN and its belief, “Young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labour market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. Further, women are more likely to be underemployed and under-paid, or work under temporary contracts. That is why education and training are key determinants of success in the labour market.”
Pochampally weavers learn to re-weave with digital tools
The Digital Cluster Development Programme of DEF, in collaboration with Microsoft India and Chaitanya Bharti, have initiated a project called Re-Weaver to digitally empower the weavers of Pochampally in Telangana. DEF is the technical training partner and aims to provide trainings in digital literacy, digital designing and digital marketing to the weavers in the region. Under this project, the first batch of 25 weavers from Pochampally was trained in basic digital literacy from July 14 to July 21, 2017. In the course of the next few months, more such trainings will follow for various groups of weavers.
Honing creativity and building skills
At the Baank-e-Loom digital resource centre under DCDP in Saidanpur village of Uttar Pradesh, youth can now access digital tools to nurture their creativity and artistic skills to learn new vocational skills. The ongoing first batch of Digital Tailoring & Embroidery course, adolescent girls and young women come to the centre to watch various online videos that guide them through the process of tailoring — starting from sketching, measuring and marking to designing, cutting and stitching — using newspapers. Further, a rakhi-making workshop was conducted for adolescent boys and girls, following which the rakhis were sold in Delhi.
Handholding grassroots organisations in their digital journeys
The eNGO Programme aims to build capacities of grassroots organisations by bringing them online, handholding them through digital content creation and strengthening their core functions through various digital tools. With this in mind, the eNGO team has already organised four workshops for representatives from about 100 NGOs this financial year. The first of these was held in Ranchi (Jharkhand) on April 9, followed by others in Samastipur (Bihar) on May 15, Faizabad (Uttar Pradesh) and Dehradun (Uttarakhand) on June 17. As many as 63 of these organisations decided to go online by the end of the workshop.
Health workers see benefits of technology
In the rural health care system, the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) is the key field level functionary who interacts directly with the community and has been the central focus of all reproductive child health programmes. Snehlata Jarsoniya is one such ANM in Chachoda block of Guna district, Madhya Pradesh. While on the field, she found time between her daily door-to-door mobilisation campaigns to find an hour every day to learn computers at the Soochna Seva Kendra. Snehlata believes digital literacy will help her access health-related information online in a timely manner to cater to community members.
Technology building confidence among adolescents
Last month, DEF conducted an eight-day Digital Literacy, Safety and Security training for a group of 45 adolescent girls from CREA’s SELF Academy. The trainings were held at TERI Retreat, Gurgaon, from July 1 – 10, 2017, under CREA’s programme for Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of adolescent girls using sports. The 10-day residential workshop training programme aimed at orientig girls for a range of skill building opportunities. The workshop also included sessions on gender sensitisation, film making & editing, career counseling and community journalism, among others. Read More
Coming up: Ditigal Citizen Summit 2017
The second edition of DEF’s Digital Citizen Summit will be held at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on September 21-22, 2017. This year, the two-day summit will focus on issues related to access to the Internet, freedom of expression online, privacy, digital literacy and empowerment. Among groups that will be hosting sessions (tech demonstrations, workshops, panel discussions and talks) at the Summit are Point of View, Feminism in India, Hidden Pockets, Internet Democracy Project, Amnesty International India, The Dialogue, Centre for Communication Governance NLU, Score Foundation, Bytes4All, Centre for Social Activism and Altermundi. Read More

DEFdialogue with Subodh Kerkar

Enabling Lives with Information

In the Memory of Umar Farooq

Changing lives in a Mobile Society
Osama Manzar
Founder-Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation
The year 2017 marks 15 years of Digital Empowerment Foundation’s commitment to its vision of eradicating information poverty among rural and marginalised communities of India. This year also marks the eight-year milestone of the mBillionth Awards, a platform that was created in 2010 to identify and recognise innovations that are utilising mobile technology and leveraging increasing mobile penetration. Over the years, we’ve recognised several initiatives such as CGNetSwara, 139 Railway Enquiry, Coke Studio Mobile Melodies... Read More
Farmer’s handyman
Reliance Foundation’s Information Services programme has been empowering communities since January 2013 by providing reliable and robust information tailored to the local needs of farmers, fisher folks and livestock owners using modern information, communication and technologies. This bridges the gap between lab-derived knowledge and field-based skills. Information is disseminated though audio and dial-out conferences, local cable TV, All India Radio, print media, voice and text messages using Jio Chat and WhatsApp and through field-based... Read More
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Digital Empowerment Foundation aims to connect unreached and underserved communities of India 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 rural locations of India.

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