Empowering tribal youth for a better tomorrow

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in partnership with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) conducted a week long (June 10-16) functional digital literacy training programme with the tribal youth from the most underserved areas in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. These young students are enrolled in Certificate Course in Development Management. The workshop kicked-off with a full house of 29 participants, out of which 23 were girls. All of them are the first generation computer learners and the excitement of working on a computer for the first time was promptly visible on their faces. Read More

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Nomination deadline extended for mBillionth Awards 2018
mBillionth Awards South Asia is back for its ninth edition. Initiated by Digital Empowerment Foundation under the framework of World Summit Awards (WSA) and UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2010, mBillionth promotes and encourages mobile innovations, applications and services for development and empowerment across 10 core categories from eight South Asian countries. The deadline to submit the nominations is extended till July 16, with Grand Jury taking place in New Delhi on August 31. mBillionth Awards Gala of 2018 will be held in New Delhi on September 28. You can nominate your app here
Transforming villages into smart ones
In Nuh, Haryana, a camp was organised where 25 Aadhaar cards were created including Aadhaar cards for children and new born while in Aasoor centre, Tamil Nadu, a free medical camp was organised in collaboration with Global Hospitals, Chennai and NOKIA Chennai Office. About 110 beneficiaries received opportunity to be diagnosed by specialists. Also, 14 new bank accounts were opened with 78 people received their pension in cash in Sudaka, thanks to the micro-ATM. Apart from this, Haryana Minister of State for Public Health Engineering, Dr. Banwari Lal, visited Smartpur on June 25, and appreciated DEF and Nokia for all their efforts to transform Mewat village into a smart one.
Era of Digital Reading
23rd National Reading Day was launched, with re-launch of National Digital Library of India to inculcate reading habits among 300 million underserved Indians. DEF organises several activities in Telangana with local government schools, managing Indian Public Library Mission in 13 district and state public libraries. The NDLI, called the pathway for digital reading, was launched under Ministry of Human Resource Development in May 2016, to integrate several national and international digital libraries in one single web-portal, and provide free access to over 7 lakh reading materials in Indian languages in its repository, with over 1.5 lakh volumes in English.
Bridging the Gap with Gen Z
DEF conducted a group facilitation workshop for teachers of all five schools of Ambuja Vidya Niketan in Himachal Pradesh. These schools are present in Kodinar (Gujarat), Beawar (Rajasthan), Baloda Bazar (Chhattisgarh), Upparwahi (Maharashtra), and Darlaghat (Himachal Pradesh), which are far-flung areas. The remote location of the schools didn’t prevent the students from being pro at technologies, wherein the teachers were out-of-sync, creating a huge communication gap between them. The prime aim of the workshop was to bridge the gap between teachers and students through educational usage of digital media, for a balanced growth of all the members of the community.
Going digital with DigiSupport
Habibullah Khan from Bankura, West Bengal was skeptical at first about mobile banking. But then, he met DigiSuppport coordinator Sanjit Ali and his doubt started to fade. Sanjit showed him the feasibility of going digital through various videos. He learned about opening bank accounts, depositing and withdrawing money. Sanjit also showed him utilisation of Axis Pay. The thought that he can transfer money from anywhere and don’t have necessarily have to stand in the long queue at the bank interested Habibullah very much. Today, he is a happy man and credits DigiSupport for educating people like him from rural area about the benefits of net banking and mobile wallets.
Rangli spreads hope in Nichlagarh
Rangli kumari from Nichlagarh, Rajasthan, loves helping people around and gets a tremendous amount of satisfaction from serving others. She is responsible for collecting forms for persons with disability to provide them government entitlements in her community. She went out of the way to help people but eMitra centre charges around Rs. 60 for each form upload on the portal. As the charge was too high, Rangli started finding other options and came across CIRC. CIRC provides free form uploading services with nominal charge for photocopy and documentation. She filled up the forms for eight people to help them avail the benefits and thereby spread hope and relief to the households.
Training rural women force
The mission of Internet Saathi is to train rural women in functional mobile usage and spread awareness about digital and financial literacy to enhance their Information & Communication Technology (ICT) skills and expose others like them to digital tools and the internet. Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with Niti Aayog provided livelihood opportunities to Internet Saathis by giving them an opportunity to conduct surveys for various programme implementation purposes. The survey was conducted in two places – Guna (Madhya Pradesh) and Jamui (Bihar). Each of the places had 10 Saathis surveying on various socio-economical parameters.
Enhancing skills through social media workshop
DEF under its eNGO Programme, in collaboration with Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion, supported by Change Alliance, conducted a two-day social media workshop on June 26 -27, Delhi. 20 participants from various non-profit organisations learned about digital tools, social media management, information dissemination, and digital rights and responsibilities. The workshop focused on social media for governance and enhanced networking and content creation for wider reaches. The workshop ended with a session on MeraApp, an android-based mobile application for information dissemination and enabling access to government schemes and entitlements.
Workshop on designing curriculum for Barefoot Wireless Engineers
DEF is developing a curriculum with Commonwealth of Learning (COL) for Barefoot Wireless Engineers. A workshop was organised at DEF on June 28-29, to finalise the blueprint for the course by orienting the writers to write self-learning materials based on COL’s instructional template. The workshop focused on developing strategy for the course considering quality criteria. DEF staff actively participated and understood the importance of instructional designing to form this curriculum. Also, a hands-on session saw participants designing learning objectives, outcomes and introduction to modules. The workshop ended with participants leaving with a plan to proceed with designing the curriculum
Weavers gearing up for Lakme Fashion Week
India’s craft traditions and living craft skills, passed on from generation to generation, are not just an important part of its cultural identity, but, a crucial means of sustenance for numerous communities. According to official figures, about 70 lakh artisans (unofficially 20 crores) engaged in craft production for their livelihood. For the last few months, weavers in three clusters of Digital Cluster Development Programme, are gearing up for the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week. Renowned fashion designer designer Naushad Ali is working with the cotton weavers in Musiri while on the other hand clothing brand Indigene Craft is working with the silk and cotton weavers in Nuapatna and Barpali in Odisha.
Soochna Seva goes high-tech with MeraApp
Soochna Seva recently migrated to MeraApp from online MIS, which they had been using since 2014. MeraApp is an android-based application, a one-stop answer to all government schemes and entitlements. It is a medium to reduce rural poverty and contribute in rural economy. The app also records beneficiaries’ data and suggest potential market to the user. Apart from this, Soochna Seva team organised a camp to process applications for Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in West Champaran. A total 80 women benefitted from the yojana. Soochna Seva team in close coordination with Hindustan Petroleum made sure that benefits reach to the people bringing a huge relief to the households. Read More
A new lease of life
Pappu from Nangli Jhamavat, Alwar (Rajasthan), met with an accident, resulting in a severe leg injury. Living in a poverty stricken household, he was unable to avail treatment. He didn’t even know about the benefits from Bhamashah Yojana, because he wasn’t receiving ration. Worried, his family pleaded to the ration dealer but in vain. Then, Pappu met SoochnaPreneur Sapna and explained his situation. Sapna reprimanded the ration dealer and in no time Pappu received the ration. He registered under Bhamashah Yojana and started availing free medical facilities for treating his injury. He thanked Sapna for giving him a new lease of life.
Connecting gram panchayats through digitisation
DEF’s Research & Advocacy team presented their paper at the India Consensus on ‘digitisation’ to the Eminent Panel comprised of Nobel laureate Finn Kydland, Vinita Bali, Nisha Agarwal and Prof. S. Mahendra Dev. The paper dealt with a cost benefit analysis of connecting gram panchayats with national optic fiber network in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Another paper presented at Niti Aayog in June 2018 aimed to analyse the cost versus benefits of linking the last section of the unconnected MGNREGA population to Aadhaar and direct benefit transfer through positive reinforcement. Read the complete paper here

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Communication in an increasingly connected world
Facebook India
Technology is the equaliser for the marginalised. Social media and the global community provide people the opportunity to build their skills, a business or something for their community. That’s the power of communication, more so, of social media in an increasingly connected world. Currently, only 24% women have access to Internet in India (as opposed to around 50% in developed markets). The Internet is the invisible force driving advancement for women around the world, subtly breaking down social and cultural barriers to women’s empowerment. Social media allows women to be on an even playing field; and directly benefits the GDP. Read More
Bridging the gap between technology and grassroots NGOs

Technology has become ubiquitous today, and public health is no exception. Some key areas include monitoring health interventions, sharing and analysing data, disseminating information, and managing diagnostics. However, new technology products often come across as divorced from field realities. This is because there is a dichotomy. Grassroots NGOs are the best to understand the needs, but rarely understand technology. Nifty technology developers often have preconceived notions and have never been to the field. The key here is that solutions should be developed in a bottom-up manner, working closely with the community they are designed for. 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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