Women SoochnaPreneurs: Changemakers of a digital India

With India being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, digitalisation of the country is essential, especially given our vast population and wide geography. Information is knowledge and knowledge is power. ‘Information’ is the most dynamic tool, propelling empowerment of the underserved sections of the society. Yet, 72 per cent of Indian women don't own mobile phones in the country, according to a GSMA report from 2016 titled Connected Women. Can you imagine a day without your smartphone or any digital tool for that matter? Probably no! Read More

Has BharatNet fulfilled its end task?
The status of the BharatNet project and the government’s claims need to be taken with a large dose of salt Read More
Introducing infotech in early years
of education
We need quality infrastructure to truly allow institutions to leverage ICT in education Read More
How digital tools can help in the preservation of our languages
In India, 220 languages have died in past 50 years and 197 are endangered, says Unesco Read More
India's 'let's ban it'
India's 'let's ban it' approach to anything that makes it uncomfortable online is a violation of human rights Read More

Nominations close for mBillionth Awards 2018
We are glad to announce that we have received 150 valid nominations under ten core categories for the 9th edition of mBillionth Awards South Asia 2018. Initiated by DEF under the framework of the World Summit Awards (WSA) and the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2010, mBillionth promotes and encourages mobile innovations, applications and services for development and empowerment across eight South Asian countries. The received nominations will undergo the Grand Jury process on August 31, 2018 in New Delhi, and the mBillionth Awards Gala will be held on September 27. 2018. For more information, visit here.
DEFdialogue with Aanchal Malhotra
DEF organised its sixth DEFdialogue on July 27, 2018, this time with Aanchal Malhotra. Aanchal is a New Delhi-based multidisciplinary artist, writer and oral historian working with memory and material culture. She is also the co-founder of the digital Museum of Material Memory. She is interested in banality, acts of recollection and the malleability of our memory. Her projects explore the written word, various forms of the book and the versatility of traditional printmaking. They consider notions of cultural diaspora, withdrawing from or belonging to a certain place, collective experiences, and importance of family history and genealogy. Read More.
Palamu awaits change
Community Information Resource Centres CIRCs) are community-oriented information hubs built to create digitally literate, information-empowered and equitable communities across the country. DEF opened its latest CIRC in Palamu village of Jharkhand, where a local entrepreneur named Awadesh Kumar has taken the responsibility to run the centre with a revenue model. With the vision to make community members digitally literate and digitally enabled, Awadesh has already begun mobilising the community and facilitating access to government schemes and services for a sustainable future for himself and the community.
Creating smart villages
In Nuh, Haryana, rumour has it that vaccination in children might lead to impotency later. Determined to bust this myth, the Smartpur team in Nuh has made several efforts to bring about a chance. Besides interactions with officials from the health ministry and nearby hospitals, the staff has also ensured that door-to-door awareness helps children get vaccinated. Their efforts proved beneficial recently when 600 children were vaccinated for measles. Meanwhile, in Smartpur Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu), children have taken ownership of the centre and transformed it into a peer-to-peer learning platform. Smartpur is a jopint collaboration between DEF and NOKIA, to develop a smart village.
Reading for transformation and change
This year, the HRD Ministry observed the National Reading Month from June 19 to July 18, 2018. DEF was engaged as one of the partners in the government’s larger initiative that aims to inculcate reading as a habit among 300 million underserved Indians. DEF in partnership with NASSCOM Foundation, organised several activities in Telangana with local government schools. This initiative was supported by the Indian Public Library Mission movement across 13 district and state public libraries of the state. District Central Library in Khammam and Mahbubnagar even organised a Reading Habit Development Class for school children. Read More
Fake No More
With increasing cases of fake news leading to violence against certain communities or individuals in the country, DEF realises the need to educate people on the issue. In an attempt towards the same, DEF organised training for 40 adolescent girls and their parents in Jaitpur, a semi-urban cluster in Delhi, on July 20, 2018. The content of the training was designed by WhatsApp and delivered by DEF. It focused on understanding things from a different perspective, showing empathy towards “others”, and becoming conscious users of WhatsApp, identifying fake news, and familiarising oneself with the features of WhatsApp. The stakeholders questions to clear their everyday doubts on misinformation.
Introducing digital learning toolkit START
DEF recently showcased its work on Digital Media and Information Literacy (DMIL) at MIL Expert Network (MILEN) in Bonn, Germany. MILEN, a community of practitioners from 12 countries, shared their MIL projects to learn and adapt best practices. DEF presented START, a digital learning toolkit, developed after years of experience in imparting functional digital literacy through training and workshops in rural and tribal communities. It is designed for first-generation technology users to nurture skills, which would help them apply digital tools in aspects of everyday life. The toolkit was appreciated and selected for a panel session at the Global Media Forum, Germany.
Celebrating tribal art of Warli
DEF in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by L&T Public Charitable Trust celebrated Uddyam - Warli, a digital cluster initiative that aims to digitally empower the lives of tribal artisans in Talasari block of Maharashtra. Warli is a beautiful folk art from Maharashtra which uses rudimentary graphics for hand paintings. To mark the celebration, in partnership with the state government and local administration, the Talasari Artiste & Entitlement Day was organised on July 12, 2018, where 100 artisans were given their Artisan Cards to enable them to access various government schemes and benefits that they are entitled to. Read More
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 as well. According to official figures, about 70 lakh artisans are engaged in craft production for their livelihood. For the last few months, weavers in three handloom clusters—Barpali, Nuapatna and Saidanpur—where DEF has introduced digital interventions under its Digital Cluster Development Programme have been working with renowned fashion designers to produce a range of products that will be displayed at the Lakme Fashion Week later this month.
Standing as a pillar of change
Preeti Kumari, an Internet Saathi from Totah village, Bihar, was recently awarded with ‘Visionary of India 2018’ trophy by the Khwab Foundation. She was recognised for her excellent work towards empowering women in digital literacy in the rural areas of Bihar where she worked towards digital literacy under the Internet Saathi project, an initiative of Google and Tata Trusts implemented by DEF in the state. Engaged since 2017 with the project, Preeti was recently appointed as the supervisor of Lalanganj and Vaishali Block where she also runs an art and craft shop, which she fondly calls Kalyani Hand Made Jewellery.
Digitising rural India
Committed to quick and convenient delivery of citizen services, the Government of Rajasthan set up e-Mitra, kendras, a flagship programme for e-Governance, in 2004. Currently, over 250 services are being provided through this platform across all rural and urban areas in 33 districts of the state. To strengthen its efforts further, the Department of Information Technology invited DEF to join the e-Mitra Jury. DEF team member Saurabh Srivastava participated in the Jury to identify the top 10 e-Mitra service providers in the state, based on several important parameters. DEF is vocal and working on advocating Information & Communications Technology (ICT) practices at rural level.
Rural India meets digitisation
On July 1, 2018, the Soochna Seva team organised a day-long Yojana Mela in Gaja Panchayat, Tehri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand. The team facilitated rural citizens to register under various schemes and grievances redressal system, besides enabling access to affordable digital services. At the camp, the team registered 203 beneficiaries under various schemes, and 23 beneficiaries registered their grievances related to electricity, water and social security. As many as 226 others availed digital services. While these efforts are sure enabling empowerment of the community, several more steps are planned to strengthen the community further.
Hope restored
Chunni Devi lives with her husband in Belaka village, Alwar, Rajasthan. She runs her household with a little money she receives under the old age pension scheme. However, to withdraw her monthly pension, she had to travel far and spend significantly. Her fragile body and weak eyesight are of little help either. It wasn’t until she met SoochnaPreneur Gurudev and shared her problem that she found relief. Gurudev, who also works as a Banking Correspondent, withdraws the money on her behalf now, and has even registered her under the Ujjwala Yojna scheme for an LPG connection. "Thank you for all that you did for me", said Chunni Devi to Gurudev.
Street play to counter online abuse
DEF’s research team conducted a digital security workshop at Ashoka University on July 25 to bring awareness about online safety. The workshop was conducted as part of Project WAAT (Women Act Against Trolls) with support from WebAware, an online safety initiative of OLX. Users can visit projectwaat.org to find useful information related to online security. This includes a cyber-cell directory, a draft cybercrime complaint letter, and digital security manual to keep online safe. The next activity was a street play by partner organization Krantikali on August 04 in Connaught Place. The street play was a great success with massive gathering pouring in.

DEFdialogue with Aanchal Malhotra

Digitally enhancing India’s heritage

My Voice My Right

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, and their impact are not the same for all, especially when it comes to women. Read More
Transforming India into an AI leader

There are certain crucial periods which determine the course a country is likely to take in the foreseeable future. India has failed to capitalise and build on the industrial and manufacturing revolutions. Now, the seeds of the next major revolution in the form of big data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are being sown by major economies around the world. India has the capability to partake in the benefits. AI has the potential to drastically transform a number of sectors such as transport and traffic management, health, education, agriculture, telecommunications, defence and information technology, among many. 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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