Access to Transform

There is no doubt that for any change to take place, determination, conviction, passion and perseverance are very much necessary. But for someone with all these qualities, if there are no opportunities to serve and implement these changes, there would be no effective outcomes. Programs designed by social organizations can provide this gateway to thousands. Programs introduced by Digital Empowerment Foundation have always made sure that access to such proactive actions from the locals is enabled by empowering them to use the necessary tools. The programs also touch upon various fields from digital services, health, awareness, education and empowerment. Read More


Lovebirds and their tech connect
Raghav Mahto was 20 when I first met him in 2006. He was from a small village in Mansoorpur in Bihar’s Vaishali district. His house is hardly 10km from the famous Vishwa Shanti Stupa. He belongs to the Kumhar caste classified under other backward classes. He has not studied beyond Class II; yet, Mahto has the most innovative engineering mind I have ever come across. However, in the world of certificates and education, he will be considered barely literate. Read More

Uplifting Livelihood Digitally
Vidhya Yadav, who resides in Alwar, Rajasthan and originally from Morodkla Reni, has been working with DEF for the past five years. She actively participates in various projects and recently worked as a Digital Sarthak. Through this work, she received digital assets and learned about digital technologies. Prior to this, she had little knowledge about mobile phones and online payments. Being part of the project, she helped introduce these technologies to small women entrepreneurs in her village, who were previously unfamiliar with them. Today, these women are successfully using their phones for online shopping and payments, saving time and money. Read More
Finding Access to Computers in Kashmir
CDERP program was launched in Kashmir to ensure that people are not completely cut off from the digital world. Since the program was introduced, many have found it an invaluable source of information which has opened doors to worlds outside their communities. Teachers, students and locals have been grateful to have access to digital resources which otherwise would be out of reach in normal circumstances without much attention being paid for them to be included in the digital world. Muzammil Siddiqui is a hardworking and intelligent student living in Subhanpora, Kupwara in Kashmir. Coming from a poor family, this 13-year old did not have access to computers but has always been yearning to learn about them. Read More
Artisans or Labourers? How Can End Users Affect the Lingo Among Weavers?
A few miles away from a town that is famously recognized for donkeys, Barabanki, one can glide to the rhythmic tune emanating from the hand looms along the lanes with kacha and pakka houses spread around the villages. With a haveli which is more than 400 years old in the vicinity, that has recently been attracting some footfall from the movie industry, it is of no surprise that a huge crowd of villagers, irrespective of their age, gather around brimming with curiosity. But, if one doesn’t fail to wonder if the women weren’t equally intrigued, the social backdrop of Saidanpur village pans out on different canvases. Read More
Hopeful Future Driven by the Wheel of Learning
With the digital space growing and extending its reach to almost all fields, every consumer of it from any corner of the world is more than ever keen to learn about what is digital so that they can in some way also be producers of some content. Sayoni Aktar Banu, a student residing in Panditpur Village in Nadia District, had a basic understanding of computers but wanted to enhance her understanding. Upon learning about the computer training offered free of charge by one of DEF’s centres, she enrolled herself under the Skills to Succeed Project supported by Accenture. Through the program, Sayoni received comprehensive training in Digital Literacy, learning various computer tasks such as painting, WordPad, Microsoft Word, Excel, and more. Read More
SoochnaPreneur: Opportunities of Change and Empowerment
At DEF physical disabilities are not seen as an obstacle that limits the possibilities of leading a service oriented good life. Samarth SoochnaPreneur program has enabled many such people across India to find better ways of serving the community than being looked down upon as those that need to be always taken care of. Aquib Beldar is a 27-year old from the Shahada taluka of Nandurbar district, Maharashtra. He belongs to a family of six with an academic qualification in Computer Application which he completed with distinction. His father is a construction worker and the sole earning member. Although Aquib is educated, because of his physical disability, he did not work outside and stayed at home. Read More
SoochnaPreneur: An Inspiration to the Young
For a compassionate and passionate individual, every opportunity, small or big, is a huge playing field to get creative and work harder to make the best use of the circumstances, levelling the ground for the others to follow. Archana Tassa, a resident of Bukohalla Tea Estate in the Jorhat District of Assam, has made a remarkable impact in her community as a SoochnaPreneur. She has not only provided vital services such as governance and financial support to the people in her village, but also empowered them with digital literacy. Through her initiative under the Skills to Succeed Project, supported by Accenture, Archana has been providing basic computer education to the students in her village who were previously unaware of the technology. Read More
AI for All and Everywhere
The AI For All program is a self-learning online program that aims to make AI accessible to people and provide a great overview of AI and its possibilities, as well as concerns and ethics. The program is divided into two sections, AI Aware and AI Appreciate, which provide an in-depth understanding of AI and its applications. DEF recently conducted a workshop on “Artificial Intelligence For All” in Baghpat, aiming to raise public awareness about Artificial Intelligence and its potential to support people from all walks of life. The workshop was held in two colleges, DD Jaat College and Chaudhary Charan Singh College, with approximately 450 students participating. Read More
Digital Didi Ensuring Health, Literacy and Independence
Change can happen only when it starts from one individual who has an open minded approach towards social issues. When the vast majority within the community think in a certain way and one understands that there is a different way of looking and practising certain things, it also demands a lot of courage to be able to embrace something new and step out to advocate it. Moushumi Haldar, a woman from a village in Nadia District of West Bengal, working as Digital Didi says she has always been curious about the feasibility of menstrual pads in today’s fashion conscious and consumer-centric society. When she first heard about the Digital Didi program, she had a lot of questions and doubts. But after receiving training from the organisation... Read More
Access to Healthcare – Online and Offline in a Digital Ecosystem
Healthcare is one of the primary needs of India and despite a lot of efforts being put in this sector, it remains one of the challenges and concerns for a developing nation like ours. Smartpur functions on the five pillars of governance, finance, education, livelihood and health. With special focus on health, efforts are made to provide health consultation and service both online and offline. Across six locations of Smartpur (Tijara, Ghazipur, Kollegal, Chirala, Choutuppal, and Vizag), multiple health camps were conducted which provided the community with basic consultation and health checkup. The Internet reaching rural India has made the use of telemedicine possible. During the first and second wave of Covid-19, Smartpur team in various locations used DocOnline for the consultation by using the internet provided by the Smartpur hub and spoke centers. Read More
The Thin Lines of Speech, Press and History
In one groundbreaking judgement last week, the Supreme Court reiterates that a free press is important because it “shines a light on the functioning of the State”. The judgement has lifted the telecast ban on MediaOne channel, which the center had refused to renew broadcast license for stating 'reasons of national security.' What exactly the reasons were, were not made very clear - as it was handed to the Kerala High Court by the Center's lawyers in a 'sealed cover'. What makes this judgement even more significant is that the court also criticised the government and the Kerala High Court on the precedence set by using 'sealed covers' in court, something that is a breach of natural justice, and transparency of procedures. This interview by a NewsLaundry journalist with the editor of MediaOne highlights why this is important - While this news does call for much celebration for all defendants of freedom of press, one parallel declaration by the Indian government must be taken into consideration before we are sure if speech will remain free. Read More
What lengths are you willing to go to for privacy and security?
Around fifty media practitioners, professionals and researchers gathered in Panchgani, near Pune in a workshop conducted by DEF. The workshop was titled Talking Data to the Fourth Pillar, and had training workshops on cyber security, privacy, misinformation and fake news. This chapter focuses on the security part, conducted by our friends at Software Freedom Law Center. Out of several engaging conversations we had, one particular question struck us - What lengths are you willing to go to ensure security and privacy for yourself, and your source when you're a journalist? While all our readers are encouraged to attend one of SFLC's training workshops themselves for the full deal... Read More
Fake News, Fact Checking and Alternate Models of News
As Osama Manzar, the director of DEF reminded us, data is costly. We might not think so with our monthly recharges in an urban setting, but for a lot of rural India, even a photocopy machine is kilometres away, divided by access, gender, and expenses of travel and day of lost wage. This is what the people here would go through to get a form filled out to access some welfare benefits. So how do we keep our sources of information affordable yet safe? Many journalists in the workshop expressed their concerns over the levels of misinformation being circulated in the internet - through messaging and social media. Senior Journalist Pankaj Pachauri talked of an RO Purifier model to filter misinformation. Earlier, BBC, he said, did not publish anything unless there are at least two independent sources to verify a story. But the pace and competition of our times had changed all that. While he explained the Five Ws and the One H of fake news, people were still unsure. Read More

As we look back on our journey of two decades in providing access to information, here are some core principles based on which the programs have evolved.

Strengthening and Building Resilience of Women Entrepreneurs

Film on Internet Rights

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. Read More

Digital Empowerment Foundation
A beacon of hope in the digital age,
Working tirelessly to bridge the gap,
And empower the marginalized with the digital page.

From the depths of rural India,
To the urban slums of our cities,
DEF is spreading digital literacy,
And changing lives with their digital entities.

They train and equip the underprivileged,
With skills that transform their lives,
Opening doors to new opportunities,
And ensuring that no one is left behind.

With their digital tools and initiatives,
DEF is breaking down barriers and walls,
Giving voice to the voiceless,
And helping communities stand tall.

Thank you, Digital Empowerment Foundation,
For the work you do each day,
Empowering individuals and communities,
And lighting the way for a brighter tomorrow.
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.

Donate for Digital Daan
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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