Stories of digital migration from Meghalaya

Etherson G. Momin and Sengdo S. Marak are 19-year-old young men who are deaf and mute but that hasn’t stopped them from communicating with their friends who live in other parts of the world.

While communication via video calls is one of the major benefits of mobile technology for them, there are a lot of other opportunities that have opened up for them. For example, they no longer need to go to the bank to transfer money or utilise any other banking service after lengthy, often incomprehensive, discussions though sign language with the banking correspondent. Etherson and Sengdo have their respective banks' apps downloaded on their phones to carry out financial and banking services. On an online friend's advice, Sengjan recently even bought a pair of sneakers from Flipkart.

"I have a lot of friends on Facebook," Sengjan says. "He's very popular," Etherson adds. Read More

The Internet is for everyone
Females make up for almost 50% of the world population; yet the proportion of women using the Internet is 12% lower than the proportion of men using the Internet worldwide. Read More
Proxy routes to connectivity
Blocking communication channels as part of shutdowns will only push people to find alternative ways of resistance, dissent and communication: the crux of a democracy. Read More
Model villages no longer model for others
Ibrahimpur, which a year ago, was much celebrated for becoming the first village in south India to go cashless, has returned to cash transactions. Read More
Death by data
The death of the tribal girl Santoshi Kumari, 11, in Jharkhand was caused not due to lack of availability of food, but due to the lack of access to available food. Read More

DEF is set to celebrate its 15th birthday this December
DEF with the generous support from the Australian High Commission in India is all set to host an evening to celebrate 15 Years of Digital Empowerment Foundation on December 16, 2017. On this occasion, the Foundation will screen excerpts from Ocean in a Drop, a film by Australian film-maker Andrew Garton, which documents the impact of broadband on rural and tribal communities in India. We will also be releasing two books that evening — Right to Know and 15 Years of Digital Inclusion. The former book is being released with the kind support of the Australia India Institute in New Delhi.
An effort evolves into a support network
DigiPrayas, a rural financial digital literacy project of DEF and Axis Bank, has now entered its second phase — DigiSupport. The project aims to work with rural communities across nine states to make banking and financial services more accessible through the digital medium. In its second phase, the project aims to reach 50 new villages where community members will be made aware about the importance of bank accounts and trained in the use of mobile banking services, debit cards, micro ATMs, demand drafts, mobile apps for bill payments or phone recharges through a hands-on module.
Sharing is empowering and knowledge is enlightening
What we do, what we learn always remains confined to self, group or within four walls of a classroom. Often, our learnings are not shared with the outside audiences and, hence, it goes unnoticed. To bridge these gaps, exhibitions can play an important role in sharing learning with each other. In an attempt to showcase and encourage children’s learning, DEF organised an exhibition at its Integrated approach to Technology in Education (ITE) Kendra in Alitangoni village of Nagaon district, Assam. The exhibition was organised on the occasion of Children’s Day on November 14. The theme of the day was ‘Let Children Express Proudly’. Read More
Transforming communities through stories
There are a number of heart-warming stories like this which have emerged out of relentless efforts of Indian Public Library Movement (IPLM) launched by NASSCOM Foundation with the support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. IPLM is undertaking the digitalisation process of district libraries in a number of states including Tamil Nadu and Telangana to transform these public spaces into self-sustainable open spaces where communities can seek knowledge, engage with each other, enrich themselves, and indulge in holistic intellectual development. DEF is a partner in this movement. Read More
Tribal communities’ first generation of computer users
Over the next four and a half months, 24 youth from tribal communities will be trained in functional digital literacy. This particular training will be provided to them by DEF under a wider certificate course in Development Management designed by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme. Among a consortium of civil society organisations and educational institutes, DEF is one of them, providing these youth with basic digital literacy and exposure to the Internet through an activity-based approach towards learning. Most recently, a training was held in Netrang, Gujarat, on November 7 – 14, 2017.
Catalysing a change in Jharkhand
DEF in collaboration with Centre for Catalyzing Change (C3) organised a two-day residential digital literacy training for the latter's cluster coordinators to provide hands-on training of digital tools and techniques. The training was organised in Gumla, Jharkhand, on November 22 and 23, 2017, with 25 cluster coordinators from various villages of Jharkhand, to understand basics of computer and its functions. The workshop explored opportunities for the coordinators, with varying but low levels of understanding of computer, to efficiently make use of digital tools into tribal communities of Jharkhand. Read More
Diversifying skills and products
Under DEF’s Digital Cluster Development Programme, Project Musiri — an initiative of DEF and Mphasis — staff in Tamil Nadu organised an embroidery training workshop for 15 women weavers last month. The 10-day training module focused on teaching women one new stich every day. However, some motivated women excelled and took the initiative to learn up to 25 designs. Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Kollegal, Karnataka, where DEF runs a similar project called Kaulava with Microsoft, to diversify the product range. Several community meetings were organised last month to brainstorm on new design and product ideas.
Digitally empowering the weavers of Kanchipuram
Last month, Nokia and DEF announced the launch of KanchiLoom, a cluster development programme to digitally empower the weaver community and connect them to technology and marketplace in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. The project primarily involves the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and other digital tools in critical aspects of cluster development, thereby helping to ensure sustainable livelihood creation in the clusters. The project aims to touch the lives of over 5,000 community members, including 500 handloom weavers who are known for traditional hand-woven Kanchipuram silk. Read More
Expanding the reach in Barabanki cluster
Last month, Team Baank-e-Loom organised a community meeting in Saidanpur village of Barabanki district in Uttar Pradesh to register community members for Weaver ID cards, which provides a weaver household with various social and economic benefits. The half-day meeting registered 40 weavers who have been promised support by the district handloom department. Further, to expand the reach of the digital handloom cluster development programme in Barabanki, Team Baank-e-Loom visited the villages of Saadatgang and Banjara Tola to create awareness about digital interventons, besides other vocational skills. Read More
Making fashion sustainable yet trendy
Ethical Sustainable Fashion Festival was organised in Goa from 27 to 29 October, 2017, by Alliance Francaise to bring attention to the fact that the textile industry is one of the world’s top five polluters. At the same time, the event aimed to discuss ideas that can make the fashion industry more sustainable through discussions on slow fashion, healthy fashion, eco-friendly apparels and preservation of the planet. Project Chanderiyaan represented DEF on a panel discussion to share how ICT and digital interventions have improved the lives of weavers in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh. Chanderiyaan products were also showcased at a fashion show.
Enhancing vocational skills with YouTube
Project DigiKala is an initiative of Microsoft and DEF that is aimed at digitally empowering the lives of weaver communities in Barpali and Nuapatna in Odisha. In an effort to create complimenting sources of income for women in weaver households, DEF has helped create self-help groups and trained 52 women in tailoring, tie-and-dye and embroidery, among other skills. The SHGs are also beginning to use the Internet to watch relevant videos on YouTube that can help them enhance their skills. Young girls, too, are engaging with the SHGs to see how they can leverage their domestic skills.
Crowdfunding for a cause
Amid changing government regulations and economic slowdowns, it is of paramount importance for nonprofits to overcome funding uncertainties. In recent times, crowd funding has emerged as a great tool to support short-term projects of NGOs. In an effort to introduce non-profits to effective crowdfunding platforms, tools and strategies, the eNGO Programme organised a one-day ICT Capacity Building workshop in New Delhi on November 19, 2017. The workshop demonstrated crowdfunding techniques and effective use of social media to complement fund raising. Fourteen organisations participated in the workshop. Read More
Scheme for relief
Jatri Orain is a 44-year-old widow of the same village. Three years ago, her husband died of excessive consumption of alcohol, leaving her with nine children and barely any source of income. While four of her daughters were married off early, she was still responsible for five other children who were still at school. At the insistence of a Soochna Seva team member, she agreed to file a nomination form for the Pig Development Scheme under the Animal Husbandry Department. A few months later, her application was selected and she now has a little extra income support to ensure her children do not have to drop out of school. Read More
Enabling access to rights and entitlments
DEF’s local partner in Madhya Pradesh, Pradan, organised an Aadhaar Camp in collaboration with the local panchayat at CIRC Salimet on November 23 and 24, 2017. More than 300 village residents visited the camp to either enroll for a UID or rectify an error printed on their Aadhaar Cards. However, several senior citizens’ biometrics could not be registered due to the fading of the lines on their fingers, courtesy hard manual labour. These points were raised with the local government that has promised that the citizens will not be deprived of their rightful entitlements due to this problem.
Evaluating the public grievance and redress system
The Rajasthan Sampark portal provides citizens with a centralised platform where a citizen of the state can lodge a grievance directed to any particular state department. It primarily consists of a state-level call centre with an integrated Web portal that acts as a single-point contact for addressing and redressing various citizen-centric grievances. The portal aims to ensure a robust delivery system, besides transparency and efficient communication in its delivery of services. The research team at DEF has undertaken a study to understand the effectiveness of the online public grievance system of Rajasthan and analyse the trends.
DEF in Cyberspace
DEF has long standing prioritisation of linking practice to policy advocacy, and linking local to regional and global work through research, advocacy, network building, capacity development and strategic communications in space of Internet governance and Internet-related human rights. Since 2011, DEF has been engaged in national and international advocacy through consultations and evidence-based research studies. In 2011, DEF initiated the ‘Internet Rights’ programme, as a country partner with European Union and APC, to address and advocate about Internet governance and Internet-related human rights issues. Read More

DEF dialogue with Abner Manzar

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Winds of Change

Liquid identities: A travelogue from the Gateway of India
Abner Manzar
Travel makes one think about personal identities.
“Kahan se aa rahe? (Where are you coming from?)”, a man asked me near the Beypore Port in Kozhikode (Kerala).
It was a little difficult for me to answer the question. If I would have said ‘Pondicherry’ (where I have been studying for the last two years), he would have expected me to know Tamil. But since I can hardly speak or understand Tamil, I would then have to explain to him that I am originally from Delhi. So I simplified his and my life by saying ‘Delhi’. Read More
Healing touch

Help and Click is a social app which will help find missing or endangered friends or family members. Through this app, one can post last known whereabouts of the person who may be missing due to a road accident, incidence of mugging, natural disaster, kidnapping or any other reason. Simultaneously, one can also post about an unidentified person who is found, with a view to reaching out to the victim’s relatives. This is a platform where users can communicate through posts, informations, images and comments to locate their missing ones in the shortest possible time.
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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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