Digital citizens and their rights online

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in association with Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) and UNESCO India organised the second Digital Citizen Summit (DCS) in New Delhi on September 21 and 22, 2017. Supported by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the Internet Society (ISOC), the summit was organised in the context of growing imperative for developing a multi-stakeholder dialogue platform with the objective of generating actionable policy recommendations regarding the ubiquity of digital in our everyday life.

DCS emphasised a citizen-centred perspective, discussing intersections of online and offline spaces created by us and further aimed at promoting human rights online. In order to achieve this, the summit aspired to provide a platform for building strategic partnerships between citizens and other relevant stakeholders comprising scholars, researchers, academics, civil society organisations, and government representatives.

The two-day summit saw participants from 10 Asia Pacific countries and a gathering of more than 200 stakeholders representing CSOs, technologists and policy changers. The summit was divided into a series of parallel sessions organised along the four key summit themes: Access, Privacy, Freedom of Expression, and Digital Literacy and Empowerment. Read More

Preserving our vanishing tribes
Internet has a lot to offer to tribes living in forests, as rural connectivity can ensure better access to government schemes, entitlements and rights. Read More
Information agents with social capital
Equipped with MeraApp, which comes with information on government schemes, the SoochnaPreneurs serve their community with information and digital services Read More
Privacy and the Indian culture
India has neither looked at communication nor information as ‘private’. There is also little understanding of private life in India. Read More
At the crossroads of inclusion and exclusion
For more than three-fourths of the population that is yet to be connected, the information superhighway is a long and winding road. Read More

Bhutan gears up for governance on social media
The Bhutan government is persistently working towards increasing the penetration of social media in the country for communication and governance. To achieve this, the Department of Information and Media (DOIM), under the Ministry of Information and Communication of the Bhutan government, has formed a partnership with DEF to conduct short training in Bhutan and India for the officials of DOIM and other ministries. So far, DEF has conducted four ‘Social Media Trainings for Governance and Development’ — two in Thimphu (Bhutan) and two in New Delhi (India). The latest training was held in New Delhi from September 25-28, 2017. Read More
Integrated approach to technology to scale up in Assam
In the new phase of the Integrated Approach to Technology in Education (ITE) project of DEF, with support from Tata Trusts, it will focus its attention on scaling up its efforts in Nagaon district of Assam where DEF has been working for the last three years. ITE is an innovative education programme aimed at fostering higher order learning and teaching among primary and upper primary students and teachers. Meanwhile, the ITE team in Nagaon provided support this month to three government schools and madrasas in Juria block in setting up a computer lab, complete with equipment and furniture.
Linking access to service delivery
Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC) Wadsa in Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) has had a busy month, with people buzzing in and out to avail government schemes, services and even get their Aadhaar Cards made, courtesy the rising demands to link various private and public services with their Aadhaar. And the staff at CIRC Wadsa is helping them get their papers in order for continued access to government schemes and services. Meanwhile, CIRC Rohtak in Haryana recently organised an awareness camp to make people aware of the various benefits of a digital resource centre in their neighbourhood.
Prioritising health in Uttarakhand
In 2017 alone, India has lost 58 lives and seen 36,635 cases of dengue. The disease is spreading in the northern states, and Uttarakhand is one of the severely affected states. After a student at CIRC Halduchaur in the state was diagnosed with dengue, the regional staff felt compelled to start a Dengue Awareness Campaign in Haldwani. The CIRC entrepreneurs went on a door-to-door campaign to spread awareness and tell people of the precautionary measures, safety measures, symptoms and possible effect of the virus. Apart from CIRC students, local journalists, social workers, school teachers, too, took part in the campaign.
Barpali’s star lady weaver receives global recognition
We’re proud to announce that our trainee-turned-trainer from Barpali in Odisha, Bidyabati Meher, has won the Internet Society’s 25 Under 25 Award! The Internet Society (ISOC) celebrated its 25th anniversary last month by recognising, honouring and celebrating young people who are shaping tomorrow by using the Internet as a force for good. The ceremony took place in Los Angeles, USA. With the intention to create a link between the past and the future, the 25 Under 25 Awards recognised 28 young innovators (25 awardees, and three honorable mentions) from all around the world, all under 25 years of age. Read More
Encouraging real-life community learning
In a bid to increase engagement of community members with their public institutions, DEF has planned to organise a series of community-based projects to give primary and upper primary school students exposure to real life learning through interactions with community members. With this on mind, on September 26, 2017, a first-of-its-kind community-based project was presented by Class VII students of Jamuguri Girls ME School in Alitangi who spent a week interviewing people on campus and clicking photos to showcase their school. Parents, teachers and community members were invited for the presentation in the school.
A musician in making
Prabinder is a digital literacy student of CIRC Mohali on Himachal Pradesh. All of 10 years of age, he had enrolled at the CIRC a few months ago for basic digital literacy but soon asked his trainers to teach him more advanced functions on a computer. In just three months, he had managed to carry out complex mathematical functions on MS Excel, impressing his peer and his trainers. “My favourite part of learning computers here was to learn how to use the Internet. I love the Internet. I can play games like Water and Fire, and even learn to play the casio (musical keyboard) by just watching YouTube videos," he says.
Tailoring with a digital touch
CIRC Mohali has trained not just children but a large number of adults in the community as well. Paramjeet, a tailor and beautician by profession, has been teaching her craft to several youngsters in her neighbourhood. When she first heard about a CIRC near her house, she enrolled her children and herself to learn basic digital literacy. It was the first time at CIRC Mohali that a parent and a child were studying together. Now, with her newly acquired digital knowledge, she teaches tailoring and beautician courses with a digital touch. She teaches young girls various cutting and stitching techniques by simply playing YouTube videos.
Introducing women to the world of Internet
Even as India has taken the lead to become the fastest growing Internet users’ market in the world, India’s Internet is still dominated by male users. The digital gender divide is even wider in rural India where digital literacy. This, combined with socio economic challenges are the major barriers that prevent women from using the Internet. To try and bridge this gap, Internet Saathi is a step in the right direction. An initiative of Google and Tata Trusts, Internet Saathi is a project, implemented in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar by DEF, that aims to provide rural women with exposure to mobile Internet. Read More
More weavers join the digital bandwagon in Barabanki
Baank-e-Loom, an initiative of DEF and Ericsson, has opened another weavers’ digital resource centre in Badagaon, Barabanki district, besides its primary centre in Saidanpur village to reach out to even more weaver households with digital tools, technology and interventions. Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Barabanki district to connect 40 public institutions such as schools, colleges, public health centres and aanganwadis, among others, with wireless Internet connectivity free of cost. Baank-e-Loom is a project designed to digitally empower the weaver communities of Barabanki district. Read More
Strengthening weaver groups in Odisha
Under project DigiKala, an initiative of DEF and Microsoft to empower weaver communities in Odisha, the first couple of self-help groups (SHGs) have been created at both project sites in Barpali (Bargarh district) and Nuapatna (Cuttack district). The need for strengthened SHGs was realised by locals at a recent meeting where awareness was built about the benefits of SHGs. These SHGs will receive incubation support and mentoring from DEF. Meanwhile, DigiKala and other handloom clusters under the Digital Cluster Development Programme (DCDP) got a chance to display their products at two exhibitions in Delhi last month.
Readying a team of digital design trainers
Project Musiri, an initiative of DEF and Mphasis, and its team conducted a Digital Design Training for weavers of Musiri cluster in Tamil Nadu in September. The training was organised over a period of 15 days, during the course of which five shortlisted weaver youth were trained by Shahdab, a digital handloom designer from Chanderi, in using Swathi, an advance designed software, for designing duppattas. These trained youth will now turn trainers for others in their community. The project aims to digitally enable the lives and livelihood of weaver clusters to improve access to the market and their standards of living.
Maharashtra non-profits gear up for digital skills
The eNGO Programme of DEF is all set to organise a one-day ICT Capacity Building Workshop for non-profits in Nagpur, Maharashtra, on October 8, 2017. The workshop aims to apprise regional NGOs with digital tools that can be leveraged by Indian non-profits for operations, management and outreach. Representatives from more than 20 NGOs are expected to participate in the workshop that will focus on digital tools for fundraising and collaboration; content creation in regional languages; importance of secure online operations; social media outreach for enhanced networking; and crowdfunding for increased access to financial resources.
Rural youth is transforming their communities with information
Mehatab and Sanaulla are two SoochnaPreneurs (information-serving entrepreneurs) of Bero block in Ranchi district, Jharkhand. The two have been working passionately to transform their communities by enabling access to government schemes and entitlements. The duo has been promoting social schemes through regular Yojna Camps. Most recently, they organised one in a local university, where more than 4,000 students are pursuing graduate and post-graduate courses, to apprise students of various scholarships available for them. Every morning, for a week, the SoochnaPreneurs rode to the university... Read More
Citizens can now call to register grievances in Uttarakhand
Last month, Soochna Seva inaugurated the ‘Nagrik Samwad & Sahayata Kendra’ (NSSK) in Tehri Gharwal, Uttarakhand, in collaboration with the district administration. The Chief Development Officer (CDO), Ashish Bhatgain, was very keen to have a system where grievance from ground can be heard by the department concerned and be redressed in minimum time. The main idea was to lessen the efforts of beneficiaries coming all the way to New Tehri to register a grievance related to any civic issue. NSSK is a platform where citizens can submit their grievances through a phone call. Read More
Exchanging ideas for sustainable community networks
No one can escape from the absolute need of technology in our daily life today. With the development of low-cost hardware for wireless networking-based on IEEE 802.11b, wireless networks are an emerging technology. This technology opens the possibility of building a network without having the problems associated with, and the cost of putting some sort of physical transmission medium in the ground. In the past five years, increasing penetration of the Internet and digital media, particularity in developing countries, has driven incredible growth in the number of individuals expressing themselves, socialising and conducting business online. Read More

mBillionth Awards 2017

Archiving India’s knowledge

The art of Kalbelia dance

In the right direction
Smita Aggarwal
Director – Investments
Omidyar Network
There is no question that the advent of mobile phones has been a game changer for financial service providers around the world. Through the delivery of innovative formal financial services such as mobile money, remittances apps, and others to low income populations worldwide, we have made great progress in creating access to basic financial services, connecting many millions of users to new money management tools and economic opportunities. But the spread of these services, their attractiveness.... Read More
Multiplying choices for farmers
Mandi Trades is a multi-lingual mobile application and Web portal aggregator, targeting farmers and bulk buyers — such as retailers, traders, exporters, hotels and caterers directly — through a business-to-business model. On the portal, farmers can list agricultural commodities and post details of the crop by using a smartphone. The auto geo-tagging feature helps connect local traders to farmers. The app helps farmers set prices of farm commodities by....
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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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