Transforming Communities Through Resilience and Determination

“From empowering marginalised and underprivileged communities in providing accessibility, consuming, and producing information online using digital interventions and ICT tools to ending information poverty and social backwardness by bridging the gap in a digital world, Digital Empowerment Foundation has embarked on a remarkable journey across the nation. The stories from the ground are the footprints that DEF has and empowered 30 million communities. Read More


20 DIGITAL YEARS: A Narrative of Inclusion and Exclusion
Reflecting on 20 years of Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) is like painting a canvas with 20 different colours. The digital space and scenario has evolved, morphed, exploded, imploded, opened up opportunities, restricted freedom of speech, instilled confidence in the ambitious and also stunted growth succumbing to online bullying. With this backdrop, when I look at: “Digital Empowerment Foundation: Empowering People at the Edge of Information” today, two decades since its inception, I still find the core intent to be very relevant. To be more precise, it has been highlighted to be considered as the need of the hour as feeding the internet to people has become equivalent to providing food or shelter. On one end there is a lot of discussion on information society, surveillance, online hate speech, digital interference, virtual domination, and the list of digital jargons seems to be never ending, while on the other end, there is still a huge population reaching out to gain access. The journey of DEF has witnessed a very dynamic shift and complex evolution of the digital divide over the years in terms of impact. The continuous learnings have helped to empower the organisation to skillfully and creatively find solutions that aid in bridging the gaps of the digital world. Although we have come a full circle from working mainly on the ground to partnering with the inventor of World Wide Web (WWW), which was just an interface back in 1995, a quick glance at the history of the internet lays a better groundwork to understand why, how and when the journey around digital empowerment began. Read More

Turning Dreams into Reality: A Journey of Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship
Asha Viratsingh Parmar, a resident of Trasla village, whose inspiring journey of empowerment and entrepreneurship inspired her entire community. Asha's story began with a photocopy and printing service operated from her home. She had a vision to not only supplement her family's income but also to craft a brighter future for herself and her loved ones. Her determination to break the barriers of conventionality and aspire for something greater burned brightly within her. As Asha continued her small-scale venture, she began to realise the immense potential it held. Read More
Affirmation of the Commitment of Women in Building a Digital Ecosystem
Women's contributions to building a holistic community have long been ignored. They have often been the silent workers whose commitment and hard work go unnoticed and unrecognized. With projects like Smartpur - a digital village ecosystem - women have found a platform to channelize their skills, become entrepreneurs, and establish their own information centres. Ms. Sathya, a resident of MG Doddi, visited the Cowdalli Smartpur Spoke centre to apply for her voter ID. Assuming that the service provider would be male, Sathya was surprised to see Perumal, a female SoochnaPrenuers, providing services to the community. Read More
The Multi-Faceted Impact of Digital Excellence Centre
The opening of the Digital Excellence Centre in Lakshman Rao Nagar, a slum located in Adugodi, Bangalore, by Digital Empowerment Foundation with the support of InterGlobe Foundation, has already begun to make a significant positive impact on the lives of individuals and the entire community. One of the key focuses of the centre is to promote digital literacy among the residents of this underserved area. Through a structured program, the centre has been enrolling beneficiaries and providing them with the essential skills needed to navigate the digital world. The ability to use computers and the Internet not only empowers individuals with knowledge and access to information but also opens up opportunities for education and employment that were previously out of reach. Read More
With Knowledge Comes the Power to Discern Truth from Falsehood
The Safeguarding Rural India through Critical Digital Literacy project has brought transformative changes in the lives of many individuals in rural areas of India. Kashish Srivastava, a resident of Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, who enthusiastically embraced this initiative, shares her success story. Kashish said that in the past, she had a smartphone but lacked the confidence to use it effectively. However, her association with the Safeguarding Rural India through Critical Digital Literacy project was a turning point for her. The knowledge and skills she gained were invaluable. Not only did Kashish enhance her own abilities, but she also had the privilege of training 15 women from her community, witnessing their excitement as they discovered the potential of smartphones, which was truly gratifying. Read More
No Disability Can Hinder Your Growth
Life has not been so kind to Bandana. Born with a locomotive disability, her early years were marked by adversity. At the age of 18, she was married off to an older man, and her challenges only multiplied when she lost her husband just three years into their marriage, leaving her with a child to care for and no financial support. It felt as though her life had come to a sudden stop. With limited options in her village, Bandana decided to venture out in search of a job. However, finding employment as a woman in her community was an uphill battle. She faced gender bias, and opportunities were scarce. There were days when she could barely make ends meet, resorting to feeding her child soaked rice and going to bed hungry. She recalls, “Those days were the worst in my life.” Read More
Education as the Key
Musavir Rafiq’s path from not knowing anything about computers in Renjipora village, Kashmir, to becoming a young digital enthusiast is an inspiring story of determination and how education can change lives. In Renjipora, where the literacy rate is alarmingly low due to financial constraints and lack of awareness, Musavir was just another student without access to modern technology. Computers were an alien concept to him, and he could only imagine them as toys, having never seen one or even touched one. However, Musavir’s life took a remarkable turn when he enrolled in a digital literacy class that was introduced in his village three months ago. His curiosity and eagerness to learn led him on a path of discovery. Read More
SAKSHAM: Empowering Tasati Tea Garden Workers in West Bengal for a Better Tomorrow
In the heart of West Bengal, nestled amidst the verdant beauty of Alipurduar district, lies the Tasati Tea Garden where verdant tea leaves sway in the breeze, creating a visual feast for the eyes. However, behind this natural beauty, a community of approximately 12,000 people, primarily hailing from Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), has long been denied their basic rights and opportunities for a better life. The tea garden workers of Tasati have grappled with a fundamental issue that has hindered their progress – a glaring lack of awareness. They remain in the dark about crucial matters related to health, education, governance, and finance. Read More
Bridging the Digital Divide in Ziro Valley
In the area of Ziro Valley, located near the Community Health Centre of Old Ziro, an inspiring journey began under the “Digital Academy EquallyAble” project. This project, initiated in Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Subansiri district, has been breaking barriers in DEF’s Ziro Valley centre. A year ago, the project took its first steps, establishing itself as the first of its kind in the region. Housed within the welcoming walls of the Myodi Yasi Homestay building in Dilang Popin, this initiative set out on a path of dedicated community service. Now, after a year of dedication and hard work, the project has relocated to a new and promising location. Read More
Governance and its Role Towards Rural Development
In recent years, the notion of rural development has evolved; converging itself to governance and digital inclusion. The aim is to provide the basic services to the community inclusive of all those processes through which common people can access their confidential data and information about the government and its various development programs. Thus, creating spaces to avail these digital schemes directly impacts rural development. Smartpur hub and spoke centres continue to serve the communities on the six pillars of education, health, livelihood, governance, finance and entertainment. Governance has been one of the strongest pillars, and one such beneficiary narrated his perspective on this based on his experience. Read More
A Journey of Knowledge, Impact, and Hope
In the village of Siswataj Pur, West Champaran district in Bihar, a remarkable transformation was underway. Fulwanti Devi, a resilient woman from a modest 5-member family, was about to embark on a journey that would not only change her life but also inspire those around her. Fulwanti Devi’s family survived on a monthly income of Rs 8000. Undaunted by the challenges of daily life, she tirelessly juggled multiple jobs, serving as a Bank Mitra while also shouldering the responsibilities of a Digital Didi. In addition to managing her household, she had been associated with Digital Empowerment Foundation for the past two years. Her role as a Digital Didi was more than just a title; it was a commitment to the empowerment of her village. Read More
Mind Matters: Transformative Mental Health Workshops Nationwide
To raise awareness about mental health among the youth and community members nationwide, Digital Empowerment Foundation has been organising Mental Health Workshops across DEF’s centers under the Kisan Trust program, with the aim of shedding light on the often-overlooked topic of mental health and well-being. One of the major workshops was held on August 10th, 2023, at the Chaudhary Charan Singh Public Library and CIRC, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of its participants. The day commenced with eager participants, a diverse group of individuals gathered to explore the depths of their own mental well-being. The workshop's objectives were clear: to dispel misconceptions surrounding mental health and empower participants with practical knowledge for personal growth in their daily lives. Read More
Data protected, people un-protected
Earlier in another chapter of TypeRight we had written about the Data Protection Bill while it was a draft, and later while it was being finalised. Last week, the bill was passed in both houses of the Parliament, although with dissent - and experts have written how the amendments have stripped the bill of everything that the Puttasamy judgement had granted the citizens. Here, in a piece for The Hindu, Internet Freedom Foundation's Apar has detailed how the act is "a digital leash to yank us and make us stand in line than serve the preambular objectives of the Constitution of India." Several recent pieces of legislation create databases that fit an authoritarian frame containing the intimate details of Indians and their family units. This includes the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 that has been made into law; as per Project 39A, it creates “database(s) unnecessary while also infringing on the fundamental rights”. Read More
Another Battle for Net Neutrality?
Half a decade ago, we felt that the battle towards a fairer internet for everyone was almost won - but today, the country's network operators are plotting to overturn it. This week, TypeRight looks into the newly drawn battle lines for Net Neutrality. The Internet, in a consensus of principle from its founders to the users, mandates that all content on it should be treated the same - there cannot be discrimination between websites, nor shall there be throttling of one in favour of another. Net neutrality advocates have long argued that keeping the internet an open playing field is crucial for innovation. If broadband providers pick favorites online, new companies and technologies might never have the chance to grow. Other advocates highlight the importance of net neutrality to free expression: a handful of large telecommunications companies dominate the broadband market, Read More

Top Parent An Initiative of "Humanitus Learning Sciences and Consulting Private"

Top Parent is a free mobile app that equips parents from low-income communities with language, resources, and strategies so that they can support their young children to catch up on their learning loss and get ready for school and life.

Vrinda An Initiative of "Aaina"

Aaina is an initiative that uses visual storytelling to encourage reflection on the experience of education. It is in educational spaces that they read, write, think, feel, and understand the relationship between them and society.

ISL Textbooks An Initiative of "Haryana Welfare Society For Persons With Speech & Hearing Impairment"

HWSPSHI has developed the Indian Sign Language (ISL) Textbooks from foundation years till Class VIII, as a unique innovation in the country to make ISL learning as a language subject.

DEF's cadre of 2000 SoochnaPreneurs across 135 districts and 24 states provide e-governance, finance, e-health, online education, and various other digital services to community members in their respective villages.

SoochnaPrenuer Digitally Empowering her Community

Opinion | A public campaign could tackle the ills of social media
Most of us, at some point of time, have experienced the perils of unbridled online content. It’s a problem with almost every widely-used medium of communication—the internet, television and social media. Even if we dislike the chatter we witness, we cannot curb people’s freedom of speech. Inflammatory messages and misinformation plague popular platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, globally. This has had serious consequences, including defamation, persecution, and even mob lynching. But never have we considered banning these platforms. Why? Because it is people who are responsible for creating and sharing content; the platform is merely the carrier, and there is no point shooting the messenger. As the influence of social media grows, we are seeing how its ability to shape people’s thoughts can also lead to widespread debate and differences in opinion. Read More
Humara MIL Kit for the Multiverse of Digital Fallacies

This toolkit is a part of Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Media and Information Literacy (MIL) initiatives to enable people to interpret and make informed judgments as users of information and media, as well as to become skillful creators and producers of information and media messages in their own right. An understanding of MIL would also help communities that are getting online to have better understanding of misinformation, online trolling, stereotypes, prejudices. 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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