New Year, New Endeavours

From DEF’s work being recognised in the G20 summit to DEF’s foot soldiers getting nominated to provide more services in an official capacity, the journey in 2022 has witnessed many milestones. With the new year beginning, new programs like Aspen and Smahita have taken up the baton to work towards the vision of eradicating information poverty and providing social protection. Read More


The Making of Strong, Tenacious, Efficacious and Magnificent Students of Education
Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for girls is an initiative of DEF to provide better exposure to science and art streams of education which has been launched in Assam and Telangana states of India, covering 154 schools in total. The reach so far has been in 22 districts of Telangana and 4 districts of Assam helping 6,000 students in a span of three years. Read More

A Bit of Hand Holding Goes a Long Way in Offering Social Protection
Often, a small financial support offers a lot of social protection which has been the intention behind the Social Protection project, Samhita. Ensuring that those in need are felt protected in their social circle and cushioning against the dire consequences of hopelessness opens pathways for further self driven improvisation of their lives. Shambhu Mahto is an elderly man from Ramgarh, Jharkhand who has suffered greatly as a result of the untimely deaths of his son and wife. He has seven family members, including his widowed daughter-in-law and four grandchildren. His grandchildren are all minors who cannot work to support themselves. Read More
Victory of Empowerment in the Face of Lost Elections
Empowerment, stripped from the outfits of skills, confidence and courage, is a constant journey of learning with an open mind and heart in its true sense. Such empowered voyagers sail through the high tides meeting a better self on the other side. “Wait until the day I get the authority to question the business of running a government school where children are least tended to and the absence of teachers is acutely felt”, was the thought Tarana Nazmi had whenever she visited the schools to talk about nutrition as part of the Digi Poshan program launched by DEF. From being a SoochnaPreneur in Ranikhatanga village of Jharkhand to being persuaded to stand at the local body elections by the numerous people she has tirelessly worked to help get the needed benefits... Read More
Smartpur- Journey in 2022!
Smartpur is a model that has been conceptualised in a manner that challenges and redefines the existing idea of smart villages, which is based more on the availability of digital infrastructure but not as much on the integration of the infrastructure into the daily lives of people. We believe that the mere availability of digital tools and Internet connectivity alone does not make a village smart; instead, it is the integration and optimum utilisation of these resources for social, ecological and economic impact that truly makes a smart village, and digitally strengthens six pillars of development. The concept of Smartpur emerges from the underlying idea of integrating technology in the existing practices... Read More
Upscaling Interventions to Eradicate Information Poverty
Scaling up the measure and reach becomes critical when a large population is to be drawn into the sphere of the digital ecosystem, racing against time. The critical design component of DEF’s programs, of resting the responsibility of change on rural women by empowering them, has worked wonderfully when big communities need to be addressed and changed. There have been many success stories coming out of this approach. Capacity building is a huge part of DEF’s programs to move closer to the vision of eradicating information poverty. Aspen program is designed to help in this direction to facilitate affordable access to digital and citizen services, particularly in the districts of North India. Read More
SoochnaPreneurship: A Key to Unlock the Doorway to Social Changes
Binita Kachhap became a SoochnaPreneur in the year 2017. She comes from a poor family where the only earning member was her father as a primary school teacher. Being a daughter of a wise teacher, she has been educated and is inspired to contribute positively to her community. This very nature of her to help the poor and needy attracted her to Digital Empowerment Foundation. She began her journey by doing the basic computer course at the Community Information Resource Centre and then started providing digital services in the village at a lesser price than that was offered at the market. Thereafter, she started taking part in the camps organised by the block coordinator to create awareness about the beneficial schemes offered by the government. As she got educated about the basic rights of the poor people, she started spreading the word in her community. Read More
Access to Sustainable Livelihoods Through Digital Literacy
Social and financial exclusions have been around for quite some time and the efforts to bridge these gaps have also been taken up. But sometimes, owing to linear thinking, we either don’t pay attention to the other potential gaps that are branching out from such exclusions or wait till the most evident forms of exclusions are worked upon. One such possible exclusion that might come up is that of the gap in which value systems are perceived. The first world and the privileged are slowly settling into the paradigm shift in the way value systems of the society are perceived, clearly emphasising on sustainable and holistic ways of living while the third world and the marginalised... Read More
The Different Dialects of AI Tools
First, Happy New Year to our readers! This week, we would first like to share several of those New Years posts through DEF and its associate handles. And then we will get on to the real issue of the phenomenon called ChatGPT. DEF's Abner Manzar has travelled to over 200 villages across fifteen states in the country to document twenty years of the organisation's work. Read them here through his twitter posts in pictures: Once there, also check out his new series, Daily Digital Story- where Abner is promising to post one small digital story a day for the next 365 days of 2023. On this new year issue, we would like to remind our readers of the Digital Swaraj Fellowship which has an application deadline on this fifteenth and also our SoochnaPreneur Awards enthusiasts. In an earlier chapter of TypeRight, we talked about a pilot research project we had done along with the Alan Turing Institute and the Global Partnership on AI. Read More
Blue Ticks, Town Squares and Insurrection Plots
In January last year, the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, had his account suspended from the leading social media platform, Twitter. This was after, as the BBC reported, "hundreds of rioters [who were Trump supporters] entered the US Capitol complex as the US Congress attempted to certify Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election. The ensuing violence led to the deaths of four civilians and a police officer." And there was definitely incitement from former president. Following this, Twitter decided to permanently suspend the account, something which it has done to other incite-y accounts, like this, for example: But these are old news, which is now again relevant after the recent changes in management at Twitter HQ, something we had covered a little already in an earlier TypeRight. Read More
Our Common Agenda, Co-operation and Connectivity
António Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN, in his Nelson Mandela Address, is quoted saying: “Looking to the future, two seismic shifts will shape the 21st century: the climate crisis, and digital transformation.” He further goes on to talk about the gender domination in tech, and how algorithmic biases entrench existing inequalities. Digital Technology must be enabling and equalising. "And as technology transforms our world, learning facts and skills is not enough. Governments need to prioritize investment in digital literacy and infrastructure. Learning how to learn, adapt and take on new skills will be essential. The digital revolution and artificial intelligence will change the nature of work, and the relationship between work, leisure and other activities, some of which we cannot even imagine today. Read More
Let’s Millet
The UN has announced that 2023 would be the 'Year of Millet'. What are millets, how do they differ from our more commonly used grains, and why should we focus on these grassy crops? This week's TypeRight takes a look, and talks about what we at DEF the relationship and plan with the “digital” and what to do on the Year of Millets. Millets are part of a group of grassy, small-grained cereal crops with around 6,000 varieties. There's a chance everyone has come across at least one variety of this in their diet, or at least as fodder. One can trace civilisations as old as the Indus Valley and Babylonia to be growing some variant of a millet, making it one of the oldest cultivations known in history. The ancient grains of millets have been around for thousands of years, yet they have only recently been gaining popularity in modern diets. Read More

As we celebrate 20 years here is a glimpse of our journey and a few milestones we crossed along the way.

Ordeals with OTPs: Narrative of digitisation and exclusion from the NREGA union in Rajasthan

A Recap of DEF's 2022 Journey!

The injustices that algorithms of platform and gig-economy apps cause has been documented previously. In India, the workers in the gig-economy are counted as “clients,” depriving them of many protections labour laws provide. In such an unorganised sector, Shaik Salauddin of the Indian Federation Of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT) is one of the leaders organising and unionising people working in ride-hailing and delivery apps. We speak to him in detail about the algorithms that cause injustices. In December 2019, the Indian Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, along with the government’s commitment to enforce a National Register of Citizenship. As Booker Prize winning author and activist Arundahti Roy put it, “Coupled with the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the National Register of Citizenship is India’s version of Germany’s 1935 Nuremberg Laws, by which German citizenship was restricted to only those who had been granted citizenship papers—legacy papers—by the government of the Third Reich. Read More

SoochnaPreneur (SP) program has grown over the years and the training has become more refined along the way. It is always exciting and an opportunity to revisit the program’s vision when the orientation sessions are conducted to the new team members. It also brings in fresh perspective and diversity into the ethos of DEF. As a part of the OAK project, being monitored and implemented by Swaniti and Digital Empowerment Foundation, a four-day orientation training program was held at Madarihat. The training of the SoochnaPrenuers was facilitated from 4th January to 7th January 2023. All SPs from four districts (Darjeeling Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar) attended the orientation training. The team members of Swaniti and DEF were also present to show support. After the registration and brief introduction about the project and organisation’s work in the field of digitalization, the roles and responsibilities of the SoochnaPrenuers were discussed. Since they are the catalyst to the process of digital empowerment for the unconnected in rural areas, it was highlighted during the session. The discussion was further about the schemes and entitlements provided by the government and how SP’s should reach out to the community. The SP’s also discussed the challenges and possible solutions for the work. Orientation was further directed towards the ways to increase business in the tea garden areas, issues related to the trade licence and support. An in depth session and training was conducted on the different portals through which services are provided like, E District, PAN Application, Aadhar, Insurance, CSC, Voter Card, Online Application, Govt. Scheme, etc. MeraApp training was conducted for all the SP’s and their queries and doubts were resolved. Towards the end of the training, assets were distributed to the SP’s which would be used to run their centre. Hopefully we will get to share many interesting stories in the editions to follow around the enterprises of these new SoochnaPreneurs! Read More

With the onset of the third wave we are crowdfunding digital devices so that underprivileged students are not deprived of education like they were during the first two waves of the pandemic.

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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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