Holistic Approaches for Sustained Growth

The pace at which changes take place currently cannot be compared with the earlier times in history. On one hand, society is getting more sophisticated, while on the other, polarization is on the rise. Therefore, sustained growth is possible only if there is a holistic approach to accommodate fast changing factors and diverse set of impact measures. Within this backdrop, ‘holistic approaches’ have been at the core of many design strategies across different fields. But the Digital Empowerment Foundation has been successfully practicing this for over two decades. Read More


Leave No Voice Behind
India level Civil Society Consultation to contribute to the campaign of United Nation’s ‘Global Digital Compact’ with the presence of UN Secretary General’s Office of Envoy on Technology, Dr Amandeep Singh Gill- there will be about 100 civil society organizations and as many community practices from all over India. On 27 October 2022, the President of the UN General Assembly appointed Rwanda and Sweden as Co-facilitators... Read More

Social Protection: Part and Parcel of a Healthy Society
India level Civil Society Consultation to contribute to the campaign of United Nation’s ‘Global Digital Compact’ with the presence of UN Secretary General’s Office of Envoy on Technology, Dr Amandeep Singh Gill- there will be about 100 civil society organizations and as many community practices from all over India. On 27 October 2022, the President of the UN General Assembly appointed Rwanda and Sweden as Co-facilitators to lead the intergovernmental process on the Global Digital Compact. The co-facilitators shared the road map for the process on 16 January 2023. As part of this process, the United Nations is holding consultations with individuals, groups, associations and entities on what they want to see in the Global Digital Compact. Read More
Digital Excellence Center- A Hub of Activity and Innovation
A ‘centre’ is a place to which a lot of energy flows in, at which a lot of processing takes place and from where creativity and productivity flows out. A Digital Excellence Centre designed by Digital Empowerment Foundation does not fail to meet up to the definition of a centre as it has people from varied backgrounds coming in, serves as a space for learning on different levels and creative ideas and employment opportunities pouring out of it. The Digital Excellence Centre located at Chanchalguda, Hyderabad acts as a hub for various such activities with youth showing more interest in making the most of the available resources. The centre continues to host a SoochnaPreneur who provides access to various schemes and entitlements to the community along with conducting awareness camps to inform the people about the Aadhar card, voter ID, scholarship schemes, etc. Read More
Smartpur: A Digital Village Ecosystem of Barabanki Continues to see Sustainable Efforts
Digital Empowerment Foundation started the Smartpur project in Barabanki with the support of Nokia. Smartpur team in Barabanki has worked towards renovating and constructing 10 centers which include one hub and nine spokes, and started the operation under the pillars of finance, education, governance, finance, education and health. Nokia and DEF supported the centers in terms of infrastructure, training, staff and various other expenses. More than 165,000 community members were benefited with government schemes, education, livelihood options along with entertainment and financial services. The indirect beneficiary of the project reached around 660,000. Read More
Digital Literacy: A Stepping Stone To Financial Independence
Within the context of social and economic structures, the organisation and reorganisation of the functional units of the society keep taking on different forms. Within a short span, the conveniences often turn into necessities and become integrated in the economic cycle. Some enjoy the privilege of being part of this momentum while many others tend to fall off the wagon because of the wide gaps in the distribution of resources. One such major aspect currently challenging the underprivileged is the access to digital education. It is hard to imagine an economic engine that is void of digital intervention. Hence, it becomes all the more important that everyone in the society have access to update oneself so that the opportunity to contribute is not denied. Read More
Digital Literacy Spreading Its Wings In Kashmir
While access to computers is a necessity in various fields, there are many people who have zero exposure to the digital world. As an organization that is trying to bridge the information gaps in the society, it becomes all the more important and challenging to introduce digital literacy in remote parts of the country. Under the C-DERP program, Digital Empowerment Foundation has been working towards training the teachers from the villages to work with computers. DEF provided computers and Online Digital Literacy Orientation training to STEARS Org. trainers in Kashmir. The training sessions were anchored by Saba, DEF’s District Coordinator, who is also taking care of other center activities in Kupwara.Read More
Women Wireless Engineers Setting Up the Foundation To Enhance Rural Digital Economy
Access to telecommunication networks even in remote parts of the country has been made available in theory but maintaining and ensuring good quality service is left at the hands of servicemen who are not even part of the locality most of the time. Digital Empowerment Foundation has designed the Women Wireless Engineer program which ensures that the women from the locality, irrespective of their background, are responsible to take care of maintaining the infrastructure necessary to enable good connectivity. Women are trained to understand the wireless networks through the program and employed as Wireless Engineers within their locality. Read More
New Chapter Of Weaving Communities: Digikargha TLC
Since its inception in 2017, Digikargha has been sharing a special bond with artisans from 8 clusters spread across the country. It has spent many years forging this bond and winning the trust of artisans along with exposing them to digital means of empowering themselves to sustain better. The Artisan Digipreneurs that Digikargha has nurtured have stepped into new realms of expressing their art forms, thus motivating the new generation to continue the traditional crafts. With such groundwork in place, Digikargha is ready to leap into the other end of the spectrum and complete the cycle of reviving and recognising these art forms. Digikargha is aware of the many textile lovers out there, hunting for authentic handloom weaves and crafts that speak not just to their eyes, but to their hearts. Digikargha finds it crucial to provide a more vibrant platform where such seekers find solace and weavers are appreciated. Read More
Sometimes Second Chances Offer a Lot More Than the Firsts
While ‘back to normal’ is a privilege enjoyed by some in the society, many have lost opportunities and resources to get back to normal lifestyle post pandemic. The marginalised section of the society is the worst affected as they normally do not have any assets or capital to stabilise and get back into working or continue doing business irrespective of their capabilities, experience and exposure. One such story is that of Rakesh Gowalla residing in Tinsukia district located in the easternmost part of the country within the tea belt of upper Assam. He comes from a lower middle class family where his family members work in the tea estate. Like many others in their neighbourhood, they face challenges on a day to day basis because of low wages, poor infrastructure, housing, healthcare and lack of avenues for social mobility. Read More
Beyond Qualifications and Disqualifications: Service Oriented Enterprise
The different abilities of persons with disabilities often fade away at a distance as the stark realities of the difficulties are thrust upon them on a day to day basis by the society that is accustomed to function in a certain way, hard wired to serve the ‘norm’. Digital Empowerment Foundation has ensured to include and empower those who fall off the norm by focussing on their abilities. Samarth SoochnaPreneur program has been able to reach out to many such people across the country who are now leading a respectful life on their own terms. Read More
CIRC: A Seed With Great Many Possibilities
SoochnaPreneurs are often chosen based on their entrepreneurial abilities and most importantly their drive to be independent along with serving their communities. This has always ensured sustained growth in the communities and helped to encourage others to hope for better opportunities. Tabassum Malik is a 32-year-old woman from Raipur, Uttarakhand. She comes from a poor family and her husband works as a carpenter. Though her husband works very hard day and night, his earnings were not enough to meet the expenses. As her financial situation was getting worse, she realised that if both the partners worked, it would get better. With the drive to contribute to the family’s income, she came across Digital Empowerment Foundation... Read More
Capacity Building to Ensure the Health of Rural Women
Digital Didi is a pan India program for empowering women with digital skills, encouraging them to practise reusable SmartPads and creating a healthy ecosystem for sustainable livelihoods. Digital Didi aims to address two issues; women’s menstrual hygiene and women’s digital literacy with a unique method of reaching out to women and young girls. 350 Health SoochnaPreneurs will be engaging as facilitators and 35,000 rural women and adolescent girls will be digitally empowered through Learning Management System (LMS) Chatbot which is a self-learning tool consisting of modules on digital literacy, financial literacy, basic entrepreneurial skills, citizen services and menstrual health and hygiene. Read More
Workshop on Social Media for Good Cause
Digital Empowerment Foundation, in partnership with Wartsila, recently conducted a workshop on the topic of “Social Media for Good Cause” at Government Senior Secondary school, Bawal as a part of the DigiGyan program. The objective of the workshop was to provide an understanding of social media and equip students with skills to leverage social media platforms to create awareness and mobilize support for social causes. The workshop had an impressive turnout of approximately 50 participants, of all age groups, who are keen on contributing to their communities. An expert in social media campaigns led the workshop and shared insights on how social media can be utilized to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities. Read More
Digital Inclusion is also Linguistic Inclusion
This Republic Day, TypeRight delves into how, despite the constitutional recognition of the country's linguistic diversity, many languages are not given the resources they need to thrive - and how we can bring in digital inclusion to help the endangered languages. The world is home to more than 7,000 languages, many of which are in danger of being lost forever- mostly because a lot of these languages do not have their own scripts. In fact, 2019 was commemorated by the United Nations as the year of the Indigenous Languages. India itself is so linguistically diverse that it has over 780 languages spoken within its borders. However, many of these languages are unscripted, meaning they do not have a written form, and are therefore at risk of being lost. Unscripted languages are often spoken by marginalized communities and are not taught in schools or used in official contexts, which make them vulnerable to erosion. Read More
NREGA + Aadhaar linked payment = Exclusion
In an earlier TypeRight, we discussed the issues surrounding digital, app based attendance for the country's employment program, the NREGA, and how the lack of digital access leads to exclusions. Today we look at a recent update on the issue: Aadhaar-based payment scheme on the NREGA. Until February 1 this year, the NREGA payment system had two options to pay the workers- an ordinary bank transfer, using name, bank account number and the other, using Aadhaar as a financial address and a Direct Bank Transfer (DBT). The DBT requires several pre-requisites, as economist John Dreze mentions: " the worker’s Job Card and bank account be seeded with Aadhaar, the account must also be connected to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) mapper ... Seeding and mapping a bank account can be very cumbersome. Read More
Without last-mile connectivity, digital policies are anti-poor
Indian Internet Governance Forum conducted a series of workshops to discuss the multi-stakeholders approach to achieve meaningful last-mile connectivity which has affected people across different age groups and gender, especially from marginalised sections of the society, although India is the second largest user of the internet. Osama Manzar, Founder and Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation, was one of the panellists in the workshop stressing on the urgency of providing the basic backhaul for connectivity to reach the last mile in a meaningful and functional way so that the growing digital economy does not widen the current gaps. Today's TypeRight is based on the panel discussion. When we talk about last-mile connectivity, we need to keep in mind that if we cannot achieve 100% connectivity, we cannot frame policies on the basis of 100% availability... 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

Digital Empowerment & Women Entrepreneurs

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. The amendment against Muslims is the first such amendment.” Noting the use of an automated tool to decide the lineage of people in Assam, we spoke to Abdul Kalam Azad , a researcher from Assam, now at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who had looked into detail the issues and exclusions created by the NRC in Assam.Read More

“Chal chal, saanp seedi khelte hain (come come let’s play snakes and ladders)” said Saleem (name changed), an 8-year-old to his friend. They both proceeded to the Makerspace stall of the Digital Empowerment Foundation. Pankaj, DEF’s project officer for the makerspace project, was surrounded by 15 children, all expressing their excitement over the activities he was curating for them. The saanp seedi Saleem mentioned was the snakes and ladders game with a twist. One gets to climb up the ladder on answering certain questions correctly. “Should you make your name your password?” Saleem looked up at Pankaj and said “nahi na? (No right?)” and Pankaj smiled. Saleem proceeded up the ladder. As his friend struggled with the next one “should you share your password with your friend?” Saleem exclaimed “nahi yaar! (No man!)” and with that his friend too proceeded up the ladder. These questions ignited a sense of curiosity amongst all those watching and everyone would scream the right answer when the players would reach a question. We had set up this stall at the Govandi Arts Festival organised in the Natwar Parekh Colony in Govandi, Mumbai. The Govandi Arts Festival is a cultural movement that celebrates the spirit and resilience of the people of Govandi through performative and visual arts. It has emerged from the need of the community to reclaim the narrative about their neighbourhood, which is much more than just a ‘ghetto’. Read More

We are expanding our reach to serve the most marginalized communities across India. Donate to our Digital Daan initiative and help us expand to unreached and unconnected communities.

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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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