Financial Independence, the Digital Way

Change is possible when bold decisions are made and bold decisions are made when one is confident and clear. Such confidence and clarity, along with the power to implement changes in the surrounding environment, comes when a person has means to be financially independent. Financial security becomes all the more important to women who manage the household and look after the well being of their children. Read More


A Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Shaping the Global Digital Compact
The multistakeholder consultation organised by Digital Empowement Foundation was attended by several stakeholders, including bureaucrats, civil society organisation members, representatives of organisations, government and people from the margins. With the objective of developing comprehensive inputs in each thematic area of the United Nation’s Global Digital Compact, the participants split into seven groups and discussed the core principles involved in each and the key commitments that the government, private sector and civil society should adhere to for improving digital coordination while leaving no voice behind. "The technology is changing fast, and the regulations sometimes stay static; we need short-term policies and regulations on AI," said one of the participants in the discussion on the regulation of Artificial Intelligence. A critical point on how people's right to remain unconnected is as essential as their right to have resources to be connected emerged from the discussion on connecting all people to the internet. The thematic discussion also deliberated how the internet should not be fragmented and the core principles of net neutrality should be upheld. The thematic discussion on applying human rights online pointed out how the lack of basic resources to survive in communities such as Afghan refugees in India limits them and compromises on asserting their human rights online. Read More

Soochna Adhikar Kendra: Access To Information
In the age of big data where information management takes precedence, there still exists a vast majority of rural population who are not even aware about the information that is necessary to their well being. This huge gap, which keeps widening, is a result of lack of access and awareness about different schemes that are designed to bridge the gap but fall short in being able to reach the potential beneficiaries. Digital Empowerment Foundation has addressed this key issue through its various programs where an entrepreneurial model is set up to ensure that information is made available to everyone in the rural communities. Read More
Exploring Learning at Digital Excellence Centres
Digital Excellence Centres serve as the hub where people from various backgrounds, age groups, interests and capabilities have the opportunity to put their skills to better use, learn or improve skills, explore some new fields and learn about environmental sustainability. These centres have managed to improve the digital literacy in the villages and especially the youth find it an attractive place. Syeda Batool Sultana completed her MSc in Mathematics and B.Ed. and lives in Malakpet, Chanchalguda, Hyderabad. One day, a friend from her B.Ed. program told her about the Digital Excellence Centre near her residence as she was searching for a computer centre to learn computer skills. She came to the centre and got herself enrolled under the Digital Literacy Program supported by Accenture. She was very pleased when she learned about the digital literacy course. Read More
Digital Road to Independence
In an environment where women limit themselves to household chores and working is a distant dream, it takes a lot of courage to decide to step in the direction of independence by deciding to become an entrepreneur. Such women also set the path for others to follow and open up new doors of opportunity where not just them, but the community grows along with them on all frontiers. But the struggles to reach that point are very real as seen in Roshini’s journey of becoming a SoochnaPreneur. She is a 32-year-old woman from the Chhapora village of Chhattisgarh. She has a daughter and son who are pursuing education. Roshni’s husband works at Raipur Reliance Company in fitter trade. Roshni wanted to help her husband with the family income... Read More
Space for Self Directed Learning
True education happens when fresh minds are given the space to experiment and explore various aspects of living. A child learns a lot more by seeing and doing rather than hearing and reading. Makerspace is intended for children to do this in the best of their capacity with support in terms of resources and guidance. Irrespective of the background that the children come from, having a makerspace of this kind retains and nurtures the inherent quality of self directed learning. Yohnas is a 13-year-old boy residing in Puducherry. He studies in a Government School. Yohnas visited DEF Center in Puducherry with his father. Yohnas was fascinated by the place and wanted to participate in the Digital Literacy and STEAM learning program supported by Accenture and implemented by DEF. Read More
The Fight Against Patriarchy
Rekha Kumari is a Digital Sarthak training and mentoring Women Entrepreneurs of Ramgarh, Jharkhand sharing her story, “I have heard stories of inspirational women all over the globe through the means of newspapers or sometimes television channels. And the one thing that I find common with most of those stories is that each one of those women had to fight for their rights against the brutal patriarchal societies that they lived in. Only when they won the battle, could they conquer their right to be independent citizens of the country. That made me ponder a lot. As women we have to fight battles and these might seem very small and insignificant when it comes to global problems and issues, but we must remember that they cannot be ignored. Read More
The Road to Digital Literacy
Babli from Nuh, Haryana shares her story, “I come from a social setting where people are riddled with the mentality that a woman is meant for getting married, cleaning, giving birth to kids and then looking after them. This was something that has always disturbed me as a woman myself. Since my childhood, I have heard stories about goddesses and brave queens whom everyone respected but when I see my village and observe how women are treated, it hurts. Even my life would have been like other women if it had not come to a standstill when my husband met with an accident that left him physically disabled. He had to quit his private job and life seemed insecure for us. But I did not give up. I had a keen interest and skills in sewing. Read More
Opportunities to Pursue Purpose Oriented Life
Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC) has been a hotspot to many entrepreneurial opportunities, especially to women who have made the best use of it in uplifting their lives and helping the people from their villages. Patel Afroza, a resident of Vorasamini, Bharuch, Gujarat, who belongs to a family where her father works in a car showroom, and her mother is a homemaker. Being the youngest and one of the pampered children in the family, Afroza has never been forced to pursue any particular field of education or career. Despite joining vocational courses like beautician training, she found herself unsatisfied with the field. Read More
Education and Financial Independence: Tools to Handle Challenging Times
Certain phases in life bring valuable lessons with them which often get translated into a resilient way of living, filled with empathy to help others on similar journeys. Many women coming from rural parts of India go through such challenging times quite frequently and DEF is proud to have them as the bearers of change bringing changes in their own lives and that of their community. Vijiyalakshmi had a dream of starting her career in accounts, but her wedding was arranged to a man with similar academic brilliance. Very soon, she realised that her husband wanted to take control of her life in every aspect. Her husband’s family expected her to earn while also attending to the daily household chores. Read More
Smartpur Immersion Annual Meet 2023
Smartpur is a digital village ecosystem, a project that is being implemented by Digital Empowerment Foundation and NOKIA. The project has its presence in Uttar Pradesh (Barabanki and Ghazipur), Haryana (Nuh), Rajasthan (Alwar and Bharatpur), Telangana (Choutuppal), Karnataka (Kollegal) and Andhra Pradesh (Vizag and Chirala). The project started back in 2018 in Nuh and soon, realizing its importance in the context of rural India, it expanded to other locations across the country. A refresher training is a part of the project, wherein each year, the team from the head office and ground comes to learn and unlearn various learning methodologies. Read More
Digital Intervention for Better Menstrual Health
Digital Didi is a pan India program for empowering women with digital skills practicing reusable SmartPads and creating a healthy ecosystem for sustainable livelihoods. Digital Didi aims to address these 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 LMS Chatbot. So far we have been able to bring 25,893 women under the purview of a self-learning module on the LMS Chatbot. Multiple trainings have been conducted to provide access to LMS Chatbot since January, 2023. Read More
Leave No Voice Behind - an open, free and secure digital future for all
Following the consultations held as part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the UN adopted a declaration that pledged the participation of all stakeholders in deliberations on digital cooperation. In response to the Declaration, Secretary-General Guterres’ report, Our Common Agenda, proposes a Summit of the Future with a technology track leading to a Global Digital Compact. As one of our chief guests, Abhishek Singh, who heads the NeGD and the Digital India Corporation, reminded us in the beginning of the consultation, India has both the largest number of people who are connected as well as unconnected to the Internet. Summarising the rest of the keynote address, by Amandeep Singh Gill, the UN Secretary General's Envoy on Technology, this precisely is the challenge and motto of our contribution to the UN's... Read More
Teaching AI is the past, now AI Teaches
In previous chapters of TypeRight we have talked about the necessity of teaching the impacts of AI to the public, and the necessity of advanced computer education including AI/ML tools to more students, but today we deal with something else - it is AI that is teaching us. We also have a conversation with ChatGPT to see how self-critical it gets. No, the title is not a Russian reversal joke, but rather from a collection of new news articles regarding the development of the now publicly available AI tool/kit, the Chat GPT. It seems, along with the surprises and successes of the ChatGPT, it has allowed several college and school students an easy way out of their homework. It also seems to have left their professors perplexed. The following article is from December last year. "I teach freshman English at a local university, and three of my students turned in chat-bot-written papers this past week. Read More
Deadlines, Deadliness and Aadhaar
In yet another update on the linking of PAN Card and Aadhaar, the government pushes a notification extending the deadline beyond the end of the month. In another update to a previous chapter of TypeRight, where we talked about how Aadhaar was linked to payment for NREGA workers, the government has provided some relief. However, this is temporary, and the NREGA workers' movement continues in the capital as this article is written. Despite the last-minute news of a deadline push, the last intimation to majority of the population was through messages received by the government on cellphones, mandating a linking of Aadhaar and PAN before the end of the month. As a result, this author writes how she saw several people queuing up to get their IDs linked, and even pay the hefty Rs 1000 late fines. Read More

As we revisit some of our programs, here is a glimpse of what made us bring digital interventions in the first place.

Baank-e-loom: Digital Cluster of Barabanki Weavers

I Love to Study & Play

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. Learning of exclusions of Trans People from the same list, (already facing an undemocratic law like the Trans Act), we spoke to two activists from the Trans Community, Sai Bourothu, who had worked with the Queer Incarceration Project and the Automated Decision Research team of The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and Karthik Bittu, a professor of Neuroscience at Ashoka University, Delhi and an activist who had worked with the Telangana Hijra, Intersex and Transgender Samiti. Read More

“The trip to Assam was one of a kind and also it was my first visit to the state of simplicity, as I would like to call it. But, ‘simplicity’ would be hard to justify if we were to compare the most popular North-Eastern city, Guwahati, with the cultural capital Nagaon. The kinds of food I ate in the state were very different from what I had experienced before. The people in the villages of Nagaon district seemed close to nature. Passing by the villages, our vehicle went through roads whose beauty was ecstatic. These villages seemed very different from the ones I visited elsewhere. The plantations stretched across were covered with trees like palm, dates, commercial woods, bamboos, bananas and many more. The houses were made of mosaic amidst the plantation. Most of the houses were kachcha, made out of mud, and the roofs were sloppy, made from tin. The people there are closely associated with their culture. As we visited the states right after the festival of Bihu, the residents welcomed us with their traditional gamchha, which is symbolic of their affinity and love towards their guests. It is the highest honour that they can bestow upon a visitor. Although the visit was an official one, I felt very welcomed. The first day of the visit was challenging as my visit companion struggled with motion sickness on our way to Nagaon from Guwahati post meeting the regional team. On the second day we met Naim Ahmed. Meeting this fresh graduate at his house made me understand the kind of work our organisation was doing. He was looking for a job and works as a SoochnaPreneur with the help of the computer provided by Digital Empowerment Foundation. He has also been given WiFi access under the PM-WANI project. I noticed many people visiting his place for digital services like online payment, updating KYC of the bank account, etc. His house was located in a pretty spot with a garden outside, which is a common thing in most houses around, where he was about to organise the closing of the program PM-WANI linked to a nearby school. We visited the house of another SoochnaPreneur... 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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