Manthan Award 2009
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E-Enterprise & Livelihood: 02
E-Science & Environment: 01
International Conclave on Digital Inclusion for Development
The Manthan Award South Asia 2009 Summit NCUI Complex,August Kranti Road,New Delhi 18-19 December 2009
This brief report is intended to give everybody a broad idea of what happened during the Power Sessions (Inaugural session + Award gala session).
These Power Sessions were strategically designed to bring the leaders together to inspire the Manthan Award nominees, finalists and awardees. centric service which helps the citizens of Odisha to provide solutions to their problems. Citizens can register grievances through toll free number, fax, e-mail and through Sanjog Helpline portal from their villages. Here one can post scheme wise grievances and demography wise grievances. One can also check the status of grievances posted by him or her. It provides detail report of the grievances on the basis of district, block and gram panchayat. The ICT tool of Sanjog Helpline ensures that the grievance of complainant is sent to the right office to the right officer in real time. It is developed on a web enabled multi-lingual platform which will receive complaints through its 9AM to 5PM Call Centre. He said at present Sanjog Helpline caters to 5 schemes, namely NREGS, Rural Water Sanitation Scheme (specific to Tube well), PMGSY, Orissa Flood 2008 (Panchayati Raj) and SAMS (Students Academic Management System). Apart from these, there are initiations by other departments viz., Women & Child Development (WCD) Departme
The response to last month’s Manthan Award Summit has been overwhelming, with over 700 participants in attendance, including 95 presenters vis-à-vis shortlisted projects. A recurring theme seems to be that there is a significant need for recognising best digital practices in the South Asia. So in that respect alone, the Manthan Award was a great success, in its 6th year.
The annual Manthan Award South Asia 2009 function was held at New Delhi, India on Dec 18 & 19, 2009. The event began with the inauguration session where the crème de la crème of the Indian and South Asian developmental experts were present on the dais. All the speakers came and edified the audience on the defining theme of the digital content and inclusiveness with the communities.
The Inaugural Power Session was a high level deliberation on how to link the ICT, digital content and technology tools and devices for reaching the masses and creating livelihoods. The session also provided the right warming to the next two days of intense discussions where about 100 of the best digital content experts participating from South Asian countries namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal & Sri Lanka and India presented their works in various domains and interacted with each other personally, benefitted from each other’s experiences in the process and projected a combined face of a vibrant South Asian digital diaspora to the rest of the 1400 odd Manthan fraternity and to the outside world.
The next Power Session was the Manthan Award South Asia 2009 Gala which was a rousing affair this year. In the 600 seat capacity NCUI Auditorium, not only was it housefull, but at least 20-25 people were standing in the aisles. It showed the amount of interest the Manthan Awards have carved out for itself in its 6 year-long digital journey. And it definitely is reflective of the impact Manthan is having.
The profile of various stakeholders present in the arena was also one of the highlights of this year’s function. Apart from Minister of State for Communications & IT in the Indian government, Mr. Sachin Pilot, there were various state secretaries, including Mr. Anurag Jain, IT Secretary with the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. Various other officials holding high posts were also present in the auditorium. The big corporate bodies like Nokia-Siemens Networks, Intel, edurite, Oracle, TCS, Apollo, Star Health, nComputing, and many more such stakeholders through their presence indicated that the private sector also believes in the philosophy of Manthan Awards where innovative digital practices and practitioners showcase their achievements with huge amount of interest and potential tie-ups.
So it proved to be an occasion where passion for information communication technological tools and their utility for the general masses was at its most vibrant and engaging form. The Manthan Award is termed as a unique repository of ideas, all of them using the ICT tools for empowerment in one form or the other. Now in its 6th year in 2009, it won’t be priggish to say that Manthan Award arrived on the big stage and now is being seen, as one of the awardees was to term it later, akin to ‘Nobel Award in e-Content Development’.
Launch of eNGO & Digital Panchayat
The Digital Empowerment Foundation’s (DEF) mission to take ICT to the remotest corners of the country and the South Asian region was reflected when two of its ambitious programmes, eNGO & Digital Panchayat were launched during the opening session in association with National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a government of India body and couple of other partners. eNGO is an ambitious nationwide programme through which DEF is giving the non-governmental sector a chance to make the best use of Internet and expand their areas of work and collaborations. DEF is facilitating all the jobs with the help of NIXI with a token amount of Rs. 1500/-. For eNGO, visit – http://engo.in.
Through Digital Panchayat programme, DEF is determined to take digital knowledge to the numerous Panchayats and Talukas of India. Already work had started on both the projects and results are there to see on some of the websites uploaded through these challenging projects. In fact, during the opening ceremony there were 40 Sarpanchs present on the dais mainly from Maharashtra. For Digital Panchayat, visit – http://epanchayat.in.
So, all in all, DEF is championing digital empowerment of the rural masses in India through its various signature programmes like the two above mentioned and besides that its flagship venture Manthan Award platform is open to all such like minded organizations and individuals who are willing to partner with DEF in making this ICT campaign started since its inception in 2002 to its logical conclusion. Manthan Award Conclave & Gala just happens to be the celebration of the same, it can be safely said.
The whole event was webcast LIVE on www.24FramesDigital.com. The link can still be seen on http://manthanaward.org on the right bar. It also marked the 1st such occasion where the company approached the organizers to webcast the whole event LIVE. Other mainstream media houses were also present in good numbers including co-presenters, business newspaper mint with its web arm http://livemint.com.
Apart from the stakeholders, this year’s function also had a good number of people who do not belong to digital domain and associated paraphernalia. They were there just to applaud and be witness to the digital development taking place in the country and indeed in the whole of South Asia. It showed in a way, the rapid progress of the digital brigade.
So all in all, it was a milestone year where not only did Digital Empowerment Foundation get record nominations and accredited the best work in the field of ICT, but the Manthan as a platform where quality ICT innovations are recognized became a proven fact. To summarise, it can be said that it proved to be a live case of Digital Inclusion for Development.
A Word by Manthan Award Chairman
The Manthan Award’s Chairman, Osama Manzar, reiterated the event’s success. “The personal feedback to date has been excellent, with all sectors of people having been represented on the day. It is worth noting that a number of representatives from IT based companies were also in attendance, and their support was greatly welcomed. I hope the forthcoming Manthan Awards, receives the same levels of interest, participation and enthusiasm from all potential stakeholders.”
“My personal goals for the Manthan Award were to promote networking and knowledge-sharing amongst peers and to provide an informal environment for this to occur. Given the number of laughs heard throughout the day and the number of introductions and handshakes sighted during the breaks, the Summit was a tremendous success. FYI, Manthan Award celebrates every year the “digital inclusion” efforts through Award Gala, and Summit/Conclave known as “International Conclave on Digital Inclusion for Development.”
The Summit programme promoted the theme of digital innovation and understanding, with presenters comprising young innovators, experts and government representatives. Osama expressed his thanks to the presenters for their valuable contribution to the Summit’s success. “I would like to thank all of the presenters, especially the young entrepreneurs who rose to the challenge of Manthan Award in front of the experts of the sector and truly excelled in doing so. A special acknowledgement is also made to our corporate sponsors for their valuable support of the Digital Inclusion for Development, event.”
In his closing remarks, Osama made a point of emphasising that the longevity and the success of Manthan Awards is now firmly in the hands of its attendees and participants. “With the success of the Manthan Award Summit to reflect upon, we can now shift our focus to a platform where exchange of ideas and networking can be taken to realistic conversion into action & partnerships. Managing and creating digital content is a big challenge and we should look at this summit as a valuable learning opportunity and I would therefore encourage all to contribute and share ideas in creating digital content with your professional development programmes going forward.”
People @ Power Session
The Manthan Award event, very consciously designed the Power Sessions to include highly relevant people from all sectors necessary to boost the ceremony of India and South Asia through the use of right ICT tools and new media platforms. For example, please have a look at the names who were present during the Power Sessions. They were:
Mr. Sachin Pilot, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Comm. & Information Technology
Guest of Honour:
PadmaShri SR Rao, IAS, Additional Secretary, DIT, MoCIT, Gov of India
Mr Nazrul Islam Khan, Additional Secretary & PS to Prime Minister of Bangladesh
PadmaShri Prof. Anil Gupta, IIMA & Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation
Ms. Iskra Panevska, Communication & Information Advisor for South Asia, UNESCO
Padma Shri Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, IIT Madras, Lead – TeNeT Group
Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman IT & ITES, Confederation of Indian Industries
Mr. Mohd. Haleem Khan, IAS, Director General, Council for Advancement of People’s Action & Rural Technology (CAPART) India
Mr. R. Sukumar, Editor, MINT, Newspaper for “Indian Dream”
Mr. Wasantha Deshapriya – Director, ICTA, SriLanka
Mr. Sandeep Girotra, Head of Sales, Nokia Siemens Networks
Dr. Stephen J. McGurk, Ph.D., Regional Director, International Development Research Centre, Regional Office for South Asia and China, New Delhi
Mr. Subhash C Khuntia, IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, Gov. of India
Mr. Srinivas Tadigadappa, Head, South Asia, World Ahead Program, Intel
Mr. Urs Pennanen, India Head, Nokia Siemens Networks
Dr. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Managing Trustee & Research Director, India Development Foundation
Mr. N. Ravi Shanker, IAS, CEO – NIXI, Joint Secretary, DIT, Ministry of Comm. & IT, Gov of India
Speeches from the Power Sessions ( Excerpts)
Mr. Sachin Pilot, Minister of State Govt. of India : “I am very happy the way this particular platform has progressed over the years and I am really very happy the way in the last few years this platform has been utilized to applaud, identify and appreciate the kind of programmes, initiatives, innovative ideas that people, companies, government, agencies come up with across the country. I think, it’s not like the award ceremony that we see on television on Saturdays. I think it is really important to see the impact all such activities are having on us. Here at Manthan people working in small small areas and small small ideas are recognized. I am glad what this Foundation is doing. It is quite imperative that content creation is continued in India which is famous for it and it is great that that they are encouraged and recognized here particularly at such forums. Unless the IT movement is taken to small villages and towns, it wont serve the purpose. It is good that people have congregated and exchanged ideas here. I wish everyone a happy 2010. I thank Osama for inviting me and everybody else.”
Padamshri Prof. Anil Gupta, IIMA & Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation
“There are many grassroots innovative practices in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and to some extent Pakistan besides India. The challenge is to include today’s youth to know these innovations. India has a major role to play in this initiative. There is an utter lack of local language content on Internet and now that Government of India is establishing Common Service Centres across the country, they can be a focal point for these local content. I would give an example of how when I went to Bangladesh in 1985, a villager knew that a sapling of lady’s finder around a cotton field could save the cotton field There is need to spread such knowledge. I appreciate Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Manthan initiative as a repository of innovations and innovators during the last six years of its existence. There is a need to help each other through Manthan platform. How little known knowledge can be disseminated to others. I was going through some of the Manthan nominations of this year and I was saddened by lack of nominations in the e-Culture category. Culture is very important, I think. The cultural richness is very important. DEF can help disseminate this knowledge. What an irony that NAREGA is all about physical labour and not intellectual powers? I hope that the government officials present here are taking note of this lacunae in the system. As I am a teacher, I implore all the teachers to use technology to teach students, use technology more to make learning more fun. During the recent Solar eclipse, I thought how many of you have learnt about Solar eclipse through a diagram.”
Mr. S.R. Rao, Additional Secretary, DIT, GoI
“As you all aware about global meltdown and how stable India has been. India and China have sustained themselves amid this global crisis. Lack of information is accentuating all the problems that poor people have. Private sector has been made as equal partners in the information Bill. Common Service Centers are changing the face of rural India. All the public information that is in public domain could be centralized and inter-connected”.
Padamshri Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, IIT Madras
“Thanks Osama for broadening Manthan out of India. I sometimes think that there should have been more impact of computers and Internet than what seems to be happened. It seems to have touched far less number of people than should have been touched by this. I see that we have been able to implant cell phones deep among the populace. I have observed that as soon as people get a hand on a cell phone they seem to able to call, this amazes me and leads me to think, can digital voice Internet be established? This way digital gadgets would have more impact. Voice in local language and local dialect as if a person is there to assist you, can be the future of the Internet. I think, it will be the growth pattern in immediate future. Empowering through local language and dialect can be the answer to the digital divide question. Thank you all.”
Md. Nazrul Islam Khan, PS to PM of Bangladesh
“The Bangladesh government has taken this initiative of ‘Digital Bangladesh’. The initiative is to serve the rural folks, empower them with connectivity at lower level offices. All the 64 districts and local councils have been connected in Bangladesh. The Purji system of Bangladesh where sugarcane growers get SMSes when mills are ready to take in their product with mobile phones. As schools are very closely situated in Bangladesh, they can be connected through mobile phones and the Internet. The district portal is up and running. Bangladesh is preparing a system whereby teachers can collect tuition fee through mobile phone. This should be ready in the next 3-4 months. Bangladesh is developing content in Bangla through private sector participation. Manthan initiative can help Bangladesh in a great way. Now because of global village, communication is very fast. The proverbial tortoise and hare can now live together in this global village.”
Ms. Iskra Panevska, Communication & Information Advisor for South Asia, UNESCO
“I deeply appreciate Manthan Award Grand Jury, its transparent modus operandi. I am announcing here DEF-UNESCO partnership for Community Media. Why? Because UNESCO has a special place for community media and community radio in its programmes, it evolves around information economy, addresses crucial social economic issues, it catalyses democratic process and all development processes. Community media is for the community and by the community. UNESCO has a rural communication prize and Manthan Awards and UNESCO IPDC Rural Prize is hereby associated as there are many synergies in both these events. This partnership can bridge the digital gap.”
Dr. Ganesh Natrajan, Chairman IT & ITeS, CII
“When I was chairman of NASSCOM, it registered a growth of 16% despite all the global slowdown. I see art & culture as custodians of culture. Mobile can be an empowerment tool. I sometimes wonder how digital tools can empower them? How do people in remote corners use mobile phones to empower themselves? When I went to visit J&K and NE, I was amazed by people’s aspirations and thoughts digital devices could help them out, put them at par with people living in Delhi or Mumbai and other cities. I am trying to find out how rural India can be transformed? How mobile and computers can help these young people?”
Mohd. Haleem Khan, IAS DG of CAPART, India
“I will address you all as Change Agents. How we bring out change? I wonder how digital technology is enabling people. RTI is empowering. I am reading quotes from the RTI Act how IT is embedded in it in various acts. I wonder how RTI is not in the public domain. CAPART can help anybody willing to work in rural India, I can assure you all.”
Mr. R. Sukumar, Editor, mint
“I met Osama about 4-5 months back and immediately forged a synergy. Access and governance are important. I think digital technology is greatly influencing governance. When I was going through some of this year’s nominations, I thought they all fulfill the given criteria. Thanks Osama.”
Mr. Sandeep Girotra, Head of Sales, Nokia Siemens Networks
“ I think all the speakers before me have emphasized on how technology can help realize all the goals that is laid out. Nokia can help everybody achieve those.”
Mr. N. Ravi Shankar, CEO of NIXI:
“Thanks Osama. I think digital inclusion for development is made possible with the partnership of DEF & NIXI in a small way. They have come together to empower people at the grassroots and that’s where the Digital Panchayat concept has come into being.
Mr. Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation
“ I will tell you how Digital Panchayat concept has taken place and NIXI, DEF, Intel and SMSOne have come together to realize this dream. Now I may invite Panchayat representatives to come on stage. All the Taluks of Palus in Maharashtra are Online, it is a first in India and all the content is in local language which have been assembled and uploaded by local people only.”
Any expressions of interest for nominations/participation at the Manthan Award South Asia 2010 should be forwarded to the Manthan Award South Asia Secretariat at – email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Name of the Session: GOVERNANCE, PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY & DIGITAL CONSTITUENCY
Date: 18th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 1)
Time: 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
About the Session: The session covered the important topic of affordable, quality and accessible content and services for enhanced government until the last mile. Content regulation, medium of content services delivery and putting in place the right kind of ICT infrastructure were other areas of focus. A special focus was held on how various constituencies like, rural administrative constituencies, Assembly and Parliamentary could be e-enabled to link with people. About 50-60 people attended the Session and contributed towards realizing the importance of ICT in governance.
Chairperson: Mr. Anurag Jain, IAS Secretary IT& Secretary to CM, Madhya Pradesh
Moderators: Mr. Abhishek Singh, IAS, Direcor, DIT, MoC&IT, GoI &
Mr. Ashish Sanyal, Senior Director, DIT, MoC&IT, GoI
List of Presenters:
- Sanjog Helpline, Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Orissa, INDIA – Mr. R.N. Dash IAS
- Empowering India, Liberty Institute, New Delhi – INDIA – Mr. Barun Mitra
- E-Gram – A reality Check, NIC Rajasthan State Unit, Jaipur, Rajasthan, INDIA – Mr. Prashant K Mittal
- Jaankari, Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Patna, Bihar, INDIA – Mr. Chanchal Kumar, IAS
- E-Scholarship, NIC Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. S. B. Singh
- The m-Governance Mantra for Forest Management, MP Forest Department, INDIA – Mr. Anil Oberoi
- m-Governance using ICT for PRI’s WBPRD, NIC West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. R.K. Maiti
- E-Lokshahi, Office of Collector & District Jalgaon, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Kunal Kumar
- National Web Portal of Bangladesh, Access to Information Programme, Prime Minister’s Office, Dhaka, BANGLADESH – Mr. Nazrul Islam
- Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) in Madhya Pradesh East Discom, MP Poorva Kshetra Vidyut Vitran Co. Ltd., Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. S. K. Yadav
When the Session started, the moderator Shri Ashish Sanyal gave a background on the rapid progress on e-Governance in India and South Asia of late and the important position it has come to occupy in the domain of governance and how it is done now compared to earlier times since the arrival of ‘e’. He urged all the presenters to adhere to the scheduled time line of 5 minutes and be crisp and to the point in their presentations to make it receptible to all others attending the session. He wished all the best to all of them. The e-Governance Session comprised of some significant presentations on best practices from India and also one from Bangladesh.
The first presentation in the Session was given by Shri R N Dash on the project named “Sanjog Helpline”. It was an initiative of Panchayati Raj department of Odisha Government to facilitate web-based Grievance and Redressal system. Shri Dash informed the audience that “Sanjog Helpline” is the first web-based initiative in the country, the main feature of Sanjog Helpline – a Single Window Centralized Grievance redressal system for Government of Odisha. Sanjog Helpline is a citizen centric service which helps the citizens of Odisha to provide solutions to their problems. Citizens can register grievances through toll free number, fax, e-mail and through Sanjog Helpline portal from their villages. Here one can post scheme wise grievances and demography wise grievances. One can also check the status of grievances posted by him or her. It provides detail report of the grievances on the basis of district, block and gram panchayat. The ICT tool of Sanjog Helpline ensures that the grievance of complainant is sent to the right office to the right officer in real time. It is developed on a web enabled multi-lingual platform which will receive complaints through its 9AM to 5PM Call Centre. He said at present Sanjog Helpline caters to 5 schemes, namely NREGS, Rural Water Sanitation Scheme (specific to Tube well), PMGSY, Orissa Flood 2008 (Panchayati Raj) and SAMS (Students Academic Management System). Apart from these, there are initiations by other departments viz., Women & Child Development (WCD) Department and Health Department. The Orissa government has also issued a notice statewide for Sanjog Helpline to be used as the State Grievance Redressal forum.
The second presentation was given by Shri Barun Mitra from Empowering India on a web-based portal which empowers citizens with information about political candidates, constituencies, MLAs, MPs and political parties. Shri Mitra mentioned that the information is presented in the portal in a simple and comparative manner, so that the voter can make an informed choice on suitability of any candidate during the election. This presentation evoked many interactions about the IPR-related issue, acknowledgements on source of information etc. as it was informed that Google had used information from this pitiative “Jaankari” of Government of Bihar wortal under its own name during the Lok Sabha elections.
The next presentation was on an initiative named “e-Gram” of National Informatics Centre, Rajasthan Unit, implemented for Rajasthan Government, which was presented by Shri Prashant K Mittal of NIC Rajasthan. A website for a real-time check-up of various facilities in different villages of the state. The site offers a microscopic view of the various civic and other facilities like hand pumps, schools, transformers, aganbari kendras, fair price shops, hospitals that are provided by the government at villages. It also lists officers in-charge of these facilities and a monthly update is done of the site so that even from the capital a strict check can be maintained as to which are the facilities that are working and which are not. A web-based application was deployed to get the village-wise amenities and monthly status of these amenities directly from the grassroot level. The website is being directly monitored by the chief minister’s office and has been christened Chief Minister’s e-gram. The site also offers access to the chief secretary, the additional chief secretary, the district collectorate, block officers besides the nodal officer for each district.
The initiative “Jaankari” of Government of Bihar was presented next by Shri Chanchal Kumar, Secretary to the Chief Minister, Bihar which facilitates the use of state-and art technologies to make information available to the people in an easy and hassle free manner under the provisions of RTI Act. Jankari is the first effort of its kind in the country where technology has been used to bring RTI to the masses. There was no additional cost and no fresh appointments were made for the project, Shri Chanchal Kumar said. He pointed out that Jankari is an additional mode for seeking information under RTI apart from the conventional way of giving applications to the office concerned. The Government of Bihar has collaborated with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited for this purpose. The general number 155311 can be dialled to reach “Jaankari”. The call can be made either from the residential telephone or from PCOs. In first case Rs. 10/- would be charged in the bill each time a call is made on this number. While dialling from PCO the required card has to be purchased for paying the fee. The operator then gathers information from the caller and asks few questions and a RTI application to the concerned official is generated. Ever since its introduction Jankari has received 22,600 calls. Out of this 7,070 were applications under RTI, 3,016 calls for filing first appeals and 1,400 calls for second appeals.
e-Scholarship portal in Uttar Pradesh is designed to utilize the inherent strength of Internet and its excellent outreach and feedback capabilities for the transparency in the disbursal of scholarship fund. The presentation given by Shri S B Singh, DDG and State Informatics Officer, NIC, UP on e-Scholarship portal described this online solution for awarding scholarships to deserving students in the State of Uttar Pradesh. Shri Singh mentioned that about 3.90 crore students are benefiting out of this statewidViews on M-governance using ICT fe Scheme and a single portal is facilitating the entire process. The e-Scholarship portal provides a common platform to all concerned departments and facilitates sharing of data amongst the stake-holders. Existing government processes have been simplified and made easier for the general public and the application software has been designed to work both in an offline as well as online mode to reduce duplication of efforts. New-age banking systems such as ECS & e-banking have been integrated to directly transfer the funds to the beneficiaries and banks have opened “no-frill accounts” of students with zero balance facility as a step towards financial inclusion. The Scheme has been appreciated as a definite step forward in delivery of a welfare scheme through the use of Information and Communication Technology. Shri S B Singh also shown the way forward- a separate database is under preparation for all the registered schools including infrastructure details, faculty, drinking water facility, rooms etc. and planning has been done to interlink these databases with other central and state government schemes and projects.
Shri Anil Oberoi from Madhya Pradesh, Forest Department, in his presentation of m-Governance mantra for Forest Management, on use of GPS for better field operations, presented the insight how forest department has gone beyond ‘e’ and adopted ‘m’ applications. The Forest Department of MP is using GPS-enabled PDAs, to capture real time data with geo-spatial details. This data is further being used for effective planning, management & implementation of various field operations. With the embedded fire alert and messaging features in the system, now the department can easily track any fire in the forest within few hours as compared to the situation which used to take 3-4 days earlier to make the forest officers aware about fire. The forest department receives satellite imagery from the University of Maryland and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, in the US. Thermal sensors on satellites detect fires by scanning the earth for abnormal increases in temperature. For its part, the forest department has mapped the beats of forest camps and guards. Once a fire is pinpointed, the system sends out SMS and email alerts to guards in the area, giving them the fire’s exact location. The guards track down the fire and relay real-time information to the system through their devices enabled with global positioning systems. According to Shri Oberoi, the system has been very successful, reducing damage by fire by 5% in 2007-08, and halving man days spent combating fires. The system also helped cut funds spent on fire fighting, from Rs12 crore in 2006 to Rs7.56 crore in 2008.
Views on M-governance using ICT for Right to Information were next shared by Shri R K Maiti, Joint Secretary, Panchayat & Rural Development Department of West Bengal. The project is aimed to provide information on real time basis to Government Departments, their employees, social groups and general citizens and also to generate information on a regular basis through SMS and simple mobile handsets providing a flexible, scalable, cost effective platform. Aim of the project is to build a strong MIS on monitoring and administrative system, to strengthen the compliance machinery, to disseminate information to citizens through PUSH-PULL SMS mechanism.
In order to provide direct information to villagers and getting their grievances solved, the district collector office of Jalgao, Maharashtra started a project named E-lokshahi (IVRS Based). Shri Kunal Kumar, Collector and District Magistrate, Jalgaon, Maharashtra said that so far 1300 complaints have been registered in six months. In the view of citizen centric and transparent administration the District collector and District Magistrate of Jalgaon has developed an integrated voice response system to provide the primary information & registration of grievances using widely used telephone and mobile. It is an innovative and ambitious project of District collector office of Jalgaon to have a direct conversation between citizens and administration. Using these projects citizens can listen the primary basis information or can register their grievances sitting at home. The officer will listen the grievances and record his opinion/answer to the system which citizen can listen sitting at home. This system is a complete system for making and addressing grievances without human intervention so it is made operational 365x24x7. Shri Kunal Kumar said presently there are 42 types of grievances and 57 types of FAQs services are provided which can be increased.
The next presentation was from Bangladesh by Shri Nazrul Islam, Director, Agriculture Information Service (AIS), Government of Bangladesh on the country’s National Web Portal of Bangladesh, which is a one stop online platform of government services. The National portal of Bangladesh is the first citizen service oriented government website of Bangladesh. It aims to provide updated information about Government services through a one-stop online portal. Using this portal citizens get the information related to banking system, entrepreneurship, passport, driving license, trade license, health issues, government holidays, agricultural and education system and so on. Information on current national issues or any important public notification is also available. One can get most frequently used Government forms from here by clicking on “Quick Forms” from the homepage. Through the project, all the government websites came under one roof for citizen’s welfare, said Shri Nazrul Islam.
The next unique project on Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) was presented by Shri S K Yadav, which is being run in the eastern districts in Madhya Pradesh. The process in this project replaces human element in the meter reading, which ultimately benefits all stakeholders. It was informed that implementation of the project resulted in a direct benefit of not less than 25% to 30% revenue gain to the power distribution company. Through the AMR and Remote Meter Reading (RMR) technology with further adopting a GSM based intelligent model, the meter reading can be done remotely and thus human element can be entirely replaced.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
While discussing on presentations people raise question on e- lokshahi grievance handling model and ask Shri Kunal Kumar that 57 FAQs are long list generally nobody is having such a patience to listen all. Shri Chandan Sen from NIC Rajasthan raised a question on CSCs and Shri Ashish Sanyal answered to his question that implementation of project is not as difficult as attitudinal change both at government level and at beneficiary side. Through the interactions during the presentation of several best practices, it was generally opined that while various projects have very well meaning objectives, the implementation of the projects need to be strengthened in terms of timelines and ultimate delivery of objectives. It was also considered that transparency and end-to-end monitoring are very much needed to meet the end objectives. Some observations were made that Government process engineering is yet to take place in the core system of governance, which is delaying the overall successful implementation of e-Governance.
Name of the Session: ALTERNATIVE NEWS & COMMUNITY BROADCASTING
Date: 18th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 1)
Time: 2:00 PM- 5:30 PM
About the Session: This session had a consolidated focus on all aspects of issues around localization so that India’s and South Asia’s oral society have multi-lingual option of accessing and exercising their participation in accordance; The focus of this session was on role, impact and importance of content services in alternative news, localization, and community broadcasting to facilitate better, enhanced and outreached news and other vital information in meeting basic needs of the common man using ICT applications.
Chaiperson: Ms. Iskra Panevska, Communication& Information Advisor for South Asia, UNESCO
Moderator: Mr. Rajen Varada, Resource Person, UN Solution Exchange, UNESCO
List of Presenters:
- Mppost.org, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Sarman Nagele
- Grey Cells, Grey Cells, Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Santosh Shintre
- Groundviews, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), SRI LANKA– Mr. Nigel Nugawela, SRI LANKA
- Tarakash.com, Chhavi Media & Communication Co, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, INDIA – Mr. Pankaj Bengani, Ahmedabad, INDIA
- TopNews.in, G. D. Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Patiala, Punjab, INDIA – Mr. Gagandeep Singh
- Video Volunteers, Video Volunteers, Bardez, Goa, INDIA –Ms. Mahima Kaul
- Sangham Radio, Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, AP, INDIA – Ms. Algole Narsamma
- Radio Connect, Nai Supporting Open Media in AFGHANISTAN–Mr. Mir Abdul Wahed Hashimi
- Doko Radio Mobile Media Mela, Antenna Foundation Nepal, NEPAL –Mr. Madhu Acharya
- Vasundhara Vahini 90.4 MH.Z, Vidya Pratishthan’s Institute of Information Technology (VIIT), Baramati, Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Deepak Rajmane
- Gram Vaani (GRINS), Gramin Radio Inter Networking System, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Mr. Aaditeshwar Seth
At the outset of the assembly, the Session moderator reiterated the role of Alternative news media and particularly Community Broadcasting since the dawn of the digital age in effective citizen partnership in governance affairs leading to a vibrant democracy in the process. The community broadcasting mainly community radio, in particular, is leading to a revolution in India and South Asia. In all 40-50 people attended this important session.
The session began with a presentation from Video Volunteers, a Goa based organisation using the power of video at ground level to create a global ‘community media network.’ Ms.Mahima Kaul explained that Video Volunteers works to help establish community video with marginalised groups in India, including dalits, adivasis, slum dwellers and women. The help establish Community Video Units (CVUs) that are staffed by members of the community, informed by members of the community, and screened in the community. They give 12-18 months training to small community for making socially relevant videos, and in turn empowering people to help them stand up for themselves. The presenter explained that the organisation prepares communities as driving agents.ESSIBLE DIGITAL SOLUTIONS IN HEALTH
The next presenter was Mr. Sarman Nagele, the editor of Mppost.org, India’s first Hindi online daily publication. Launched in 2005, the site aims at promoting Hindi as a major language in online news dissemination. In his presentation, Mr. Nagele also explained the intricacies and technicalities of alternative media and community broadcasting.
Mr. Santosh Shintre, the producer of Grey Cells was the next to present. Grey Cells produces Marathi E-Learning modules with Marathi as the medium of instruction. Marathi e-learning programme targets audiences which are non-literates, semi literates, or neo-literates. The site aims to impart functional literacy to help the downtrodden overcome inertia using the rural dialect of the Marathi tongue. With broadband connections rapidly increasing in the rural areas, the barrier of ‘no connectivity’ is rapidly vanishing. The low-cost multimedia training in regional languages can really enhance the permeation of uniform education to the people level. Introduction of multimedia in informal public education and integrating it with Government Information dissemination and social service scheme is now cost effective and educationally sound. The need is there, the technology is there, the economics is favourable. Rather than typical ID companies targeting clients abroad, charging USD 7000 and above per learning hour and with little or no knowledge of the local culture, ethos and language, niche specific organizations like Grey Cells who know it are better equipped for creating ID/E-Learning modules in Marathi.
The next presentation was from Mr. Nigel Nugawela from Groundviews, Sri Lanka’s first citizen journalism website. Launched in 2006, the site has grown by leaps and bounds, registering over 1 million hits in 2009. The initiative has received accolades from the international community and quoted by mainstream media organisations like BBC, Al Jazeera, New York Times, etc. Mr. Nugawela also stated that they do not reproduce any content and stay away from political and controversial statements. In a country that is increasingly under fire for clamping down on media freedom, citizen journalism initiatives, like Groundviews, are important sources of information on issues related to war, peace, democracy and human rights in Sri Lanka. This is a pioneering effort in Sri Lanka to create a channel through which citizens in civil society can be heard. Content includes thoughts on life in conflict zones, impending humanitarian emergencies, and information on security and ground conditions.
This was followed by the presentation of Mr. Pankaj Bengani from Tarakash.com, India’s first and only Hindi infotainment portal which focuses on science, technology and IT. He said that the site gets 20,000 views daily and aims to have a database of 100,000 articles in the near future. He explained that the reason for choosing Hindi as the language was to reach out to the masses. Tarakash.com is the world’s first and only educational, informational and entertainment portal in Hindi. There are over 1500 informative articles already published on the site and all are in Hindi, the third largest spoken language of the world. It’s written in simple Hindi to enable common people to understand the subjects with ease. Tarakash.com makes money through advertisements. Tarakash.com has potential to grow, as the site has witnessed over a 300% annual growth in the last two years. According to research, online marketing is growing in numbers and Tarakash.com is confident to grab a share of it.
Mr. Gagandeep Singh of Topnews.in followed with his presentation. The website offers latest news and has main focus on business news, stock markets and company information. It also provides updates on Technology, Health and Sports. In the last one year, the website has made a significant development in News and Media sector. Topnews is a business and macro-economic website to help farmers with information. Working with a staff of over 80 reporters, engineers, editors, etc; it is a registered news magazine with the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) and reaches out to 35,000 registered members in India, UK, USA, UAE and New Zealand. With 3.3 million visitors per month, it is among the top 5 news sites in India, Mr. Singh claimed. He also added that all their services are free of cost. They generate revenue from Advertising. Soon the website will be offering paid memberships.
Ms Algole Narsamma of Sangham Radio followed with a video presentation. It is an initiative of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), a non-profit that focuses on food security, ecological agriculture, and alternate education. Sangam Radio that is owned, managed, and operated exclusively by Dalit women. She informed everyone how it was India’s first community radio starting with narrow-casting through a cassette in 1999, and moving to broadcasting through radio waves in 2008. It currently runs 2 hours a day focussing on agriculture and local issues. It is solely run by rural women. The station, broadcast everyday from 7-9 PM on 90.4 FM, The aim: to give Dalit women an autonomous forum to express themselves and articulate the issues that they face as a marginalized group. Major themes include agriculture, women’s health, utilization of natural resources and education.
The next presentation was from Mr. Mir Abdul Wahed Hashmi of Radio Connect, an organisation to help and support Afghanistan’s community radio stations through web advertising. Formed in 2004, the organisation links Afghan Diaspora and all of Afghanistan’s 40 odd community stations together. Through this information and communication technology (ICT) media development project, Afghanistan’s 33 independent local radio stations are offered an online presence through the interactive Afghan Radio Connect web platform. Since 2003, Internews and Nai have built 30 of these radio stations and have jointly trained their staff. In January 2007, they began using the internet to connect the local network of local independent stations in Afghanistan and to support them in achieving financial independence.
Mr. Madhu Acharya of Doko Radio was the next in line to present. He explained how his initiative was actually a mobile radio station with open frequency where a 5-6 member team travels to remote locations to give the locals a feel of community radio. Doko Radio reaches out to local communities a project of the Antenna Foundation, an NGO that is dedicated to public service broadcasting in Nepal, Doko Radio aims to take democracy to the doorsteps of local people living in remote areas across a difficult terrain. In Nepal, the word doko refers to the baskets that women use to carry water, firewood etc. Madhu Acharya, the head of Antenna Foundation, describes Doko as a mobile radio station that brings information to areas that might otherwise not have access to it. Doko staff travel across Nepal, stopping at locations for a few days where they create and broadcast local programming that residents can tune in to on their existing transmitters. In radio-shadow region, which have no transmitters at all, Antenna Foundation distributes cheap devices, allowing the local population to tune into their programming. He described it as an outlet for reaching the locals and technological integration.
The next one to present was Mr. Deepak Rajmane from Vasundhara Vahini, an 8 hour a day community radio in Maharashtra, India focussing on religion & spirituality, agriculture, rural development, animal husbandry and related local issues of the people. Vasundhara Vahini station at Bharamathi, is amidst of farmer community who are the prime target audience. The main objective is provide information to improve agricultural techniques such as implementation of best and improved seeds; improve the farming practices, use of advanced technology in farming, use of organic pest and herbs instead of chemical pesticides. Sugarcane is the major crop that is cultivated along with mixed cropping and vegetative cropping, diary and animal husbandry are also the main occupation of the people around the vicinity of the station. He emphasised that the interactive nature of community radio was essential for its success. Mr. Rajmane also informed that the radio also organises events and special celebrations.
The final presentation of the session was from Mr. Aaditeshwar Seth of Gram Vaani on GRINS, Gramin Radio Inter Networking Systems, a community radio network and support system. Gram Vaani empowers rural communities India through participatory media services. Graam Vaani seeks to provide information that inspires people, empowers communities, brings knowledge and awareness for equitable development, and streamlines the interaction of villages with governments and external agencies to enforce responsible politics. He complained about the amateurish working pattern of community radio in India and emphasised on the need for a more systematic and organised working style. He said that GRINS was working along the same lines by providing a single console for all the needs of a CR station viz. telephony, etc. It also offers guidance for programming, he added. The best feature of the project, according to Mr. Seth is its open source nature.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
In conclusion, the Mr. Rajen Varada, on behalf of the Chair, thanked all the presenters for their work in the field. He also added that community broadcasting is something we all should look at. A cross-country comparison of community broadcasting in areas including people’s participation, regulatory scenarios, human resource development, technology usage trends, financial practices etc. shows a wide variety of Community Broadcasting applications and challenges. He summed up by saying that both India and her neighbours had a lot to learn from each other in this field, although the work done so far had been indeed commendable.
Name of the Session : ACCESSIBLE DIGITAL SOLUTIONS IN HEALTH, SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
Day: 18th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 1)
Time: 2:00 AM- 5:30 PM
About the Session: This session delved on the importance of ICT and digital content in health and environmental services delivery with affordable quality and accessible content and services overcoming time, geographical, economic and social limitations. The focus was on how ICT and content can facilitate promotion and sustenance of environment with larger attention on local ecosystem. Besides, what initiatives we have where science could be reached to the scientific temper level through the use of digital media. Altogether 40 to 50 persons attended this session.
Chairperson: Mr. Srinivas Tadigadappa, Head, South Asia, World Ahead Program, Intel
Moderator: Mr. Osama Manzar, Chairman & Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation
List of Presenters:
- Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme, Aarogyasri Health Care Trust, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Babu Ahamed, IAS
- Custodial Health Care Through Satellite (Telemedicine), Prison Department, Gujarat State, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, INDIA – Dr. Ranendu Ghosh, Scientist – ISRO & Mr Keshav Kumar, IGP, Gujarat
- Hospital Management Information System, Commissioner of Health, Medical Services and Medical Education and Research, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, INDIA – Mr N B Dholakia
- Low Cost Teleradiology, Teleradiology Solutions, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Dr. Sunita Maheshwari
- E-Clinician, Coresys Infotech Pvt. Ltd, Cochin, Kerala, INDIA – Mr. ES Rajendran
- SaveTheHills Blog, SaveTheHills, Kalimpomg, West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. Praful Rao
- Ideawicket Open Innovation Portal, Ideawicket Innovations Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Ms. Amar Aujla
- BIOTIK, French Institute of Pondicherry, Pondicherry, INDIA – Mr. BR Ramesh
- Monitoring of Vehicle Movement using GIS/GPS, Corporation of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, INDIA – Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni, IAS
- Nirog.info, Nirog.info, Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand, INDIA – Mr. Ravi Mishra
- Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management, National Informatics Centre, Jaipur, Rajasthan, INDIA – Ms. Indu Gupta
When the session began, the moderator Mr. Osama Manzar enlisted the priorities of the topic in the current scenario and gave the usual instructions of the discussion going to be to the persons sitting in the audience and briefed the presenters about the timelines to be kept in mind etc. He then invited the first presenter. Mr. Manzar emphasised that the session was not about “who wins the award. It’s about the platform given to showcase the best practices available”.
The first presenter was Mr. Babu Ahamed, IAS who represented the Government of Andhra Pradesh for the Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme. This scheme envisages a universal healthcare scheme, a system which is currently based on a digital platform with 5000 users and runs around the clock for 24 hours. This scheme is in great demand among the rural poor who end up selling 70% of their assets to procure healthcare. It proposes to give patients a cashless package where screening, testing and medicines will be covered. 942 major procedures have already been incorporated under this scheme. Aarogyasri Health Trust gives hospitals the responsibility of organizing one healthcare camp a week, provide personnel and cover transportation costs for the patients. The payment would be made to the hospitals within 7 days of receiving the claim online to remove corruption and commissions. Mr. Ahamed also gave a demo of how the system works online and showed that in the past 24 hours, Rs. 2.79crores worth of cases were undertaken. A total of 9476 cases have been taken care of since the inception of Aarogyasri.
The second presenters were Dr. Ranendu Ghosh from the ISRO and Mr. Keshav Kumar, IGP from Gujarat who presented on Custodial Health Care through Satellite (Telemedicine) in Gujarat. Under this programme, village resource centres have been set up where the technological aspect is covered by the ISRO, the Government of Gujarat is the service provider and the knowledge providers are various experts. So far, 473 such centres have been set up in the state and 37 are in the process of being set up. Recently, Telemedicine was introduced in the Sabarmati Jail. A growing need for this system is felt as taking prisoners out of their cells can prove to be a security hazard, and telemedicine can save resources. A teleconsultation was recently conducted on a 60-year old inmate who had spent 10 years in jail, by using an online ECG and accessing information through VCON software. Keshav Kumar spoke of the future of custodial health care through satellite as quality healthcare is very rare in jails. Prisoners only get interns to consult them at hospitals whereas through this system, experts will examine them. It also removes the distance barrier and promotes the better monitoring of chronic diseases.
Dr. NB Dholakia, Deputy Director – Health & Family Welfare Department of the Government of Gujarat made a presentation on Hospital Management Information System. He stressed on how the quality of healthcare provided must be improved and how the government structure should be made more efficient and effective to promote such improvement. The Hospital Management Information System includes patient care services, clinical services and structured hospital administration. Two hundred thousand certificates have already been handed out to hospitals through this system. Under the HMIS, patients’ history will be preserved and readily accessible, thereby diminishing paperwork, increasing transparency and research and development. It is hence a consolidation of data online along with a comprehensive stock of drugs available. This system also helps rate hospitals according to their efficiency. The hierarchical structure of the system has the Health & Family Department at the apex followed by a Commissionerate which is responsible for Hospital Managers who in turn monitor the Users of HMIS in Hospitals.
Dr Sunita Maheshwari from Telaradiology Solutions (TS), Bangalore made her presentation on Low Cost Telaradiology. Telaradiology transfers diagnostic images over a LAN or WAN (Wireless Access Network) for interpretation. TS was conceptualized in 2002 to provide radiology services to 75 hospitals in the US. It follows the hub and spoke model where one radiologist reports for multiple hospitals. The Ministry of Health in Singapore too has given accreditation to TS. In India, for every 100000 patients, there is one radiologist, thus the need and application of telaradiology is the greatest here. TS reports about 2000 X-rays per day and also offers Pediatric Telesonographs for terminally ill children. 5053 CT scans have been received and examined in Bangalore itself since TS branched out in India. Telaradiology Solutions works in conjunction with the Swami Vivekananda Memorial Hospital and the Rama Krishna Mission Hospital in Itanagar. Dr Maheshwari said that at TS, they follow a “Robin Hood Model” by charging clients in the US and Singapore and using the profits earned for Indian patients in need. The organization has been given no government assistance despite its pro-bono work in India.
The fifth presenter was Mr. ES Rajendran from Coresys Infotech, Cochin. He explained to the audience the concept of E-Clinician, a clinical decision support system (CDSS). EClinician is the best CDSS in India with over 3000 users. It was developed over the span of 8 years and uses differential diagnosis from signs and systems, for which it has a patent pending. The support system works like an encyclopedia and is the most usable solution for primary care. It has a database of 4568 diseases and adds value to clinical suspicion. Mr. Rajendran gave the delegates a trial run of how the system works by choosing varied symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis for a disease.
Mr. Praful Rao presented next on his blog, SaveTheHills which looks into landslide prevention. Owing to the lack of coverage given to the natural calamity, Rao began his blog. He chose this medium as a BlogSpot is dynamic, free of cost, requires low maintenance and can incorporate multimedia formats. According to Rao, statistically inaccurate damage caused by landslides is often recorded as cyclones, rainfall and hurricanes as landslides are often accompanied by them. Thus SaveTheHills blog aims to provide an interactive forum to inform the public about the hazards of landslides and warn the general public of landslide prone areas.
Ms. Amar Aujla was the 7th presenter. She represented Ideawicket Innovations for the Ideawicket Open Innovation Portal (IOII). IOII houses 10000 registered innovators- scientists, researchers, college students and the like under one portal. It provides a platform to showcase non confidential ideas and programmes. TREMAP or the Technological Refinement & Marketing Programme is another tool used by Ideawicket Innovations to encourage ideas and projects by driving the prototypes up the commercialization cycles towards the market.
Mr. BR Ramesh made his presentation on BIOTIK, a programme envisioned to generate knowledge and information on tree species in the Western Ghats. It serves as a knowledge base for biodiversity conservation and promotes the rejuvenation of taxonomy. Biotik uses computer aided identification software called IDAO, which is a software with a graphical interface. Thus technical jargon may take a backseat as drawings are used for identification. The software also allows one to construct a virtual plant and permits missing data allowance, thus identifying an incomplete sample too. The Biotik database currently has 528 species of trees. Its long term uses include capacity building and conservation efforts. The descriptions can be obtained in English, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.
The ninth presenter for the session was Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni who made his presentation on the Monitoring of Vehicle Movement using GIS/GPS in Chennai. This project was undertaken by installing GIS/GPS devices on garbage collecting trucks and their movement was monitored. The programme has been running for two years now and has reduced the use of diesel from 80,000 litres earlier to 60,000 litres per annum now. This in turn has reduced the cost of running the trucks from Rs. 120 crores earlier to Rs. 98 crores. The objectives of the project were achieved through monitoring the vehicular movement and thereby route optimization to facilitate the decrease in the number of trucks required to cover the same area.
Mr. Ravi Mishra from Jharkhand presented next on Nirog.info, a site which provides health information in Hindi. According to Mishra, health literacy leads to preventive care whereas illiteracy leads to disability and death. He reiterated his point by using the example of cervical cancer, in which 20% of the cases are caused by unawareness, social inhibition, incorrect information and the language barrier. At Nirog.info, the content is written by physicians themselves, and it requires a low bandwidth for usage. The site requires no registrations and can run without using special scripts.
The last presentation for the session was made by Ms. Indu Gupta on behalf of the National Informatics Centre, Rajasthan on Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management. Rajasthan is rated as the fourth most backward state in terms of healthcare facilities. The Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management is thus a government to government or a government to consumer tool to improve healthcare surveillance. It provides an online directory of healthcare institutions, online trend analysis and SMS alerts to beneficiaries. Before the system was introduced, tracking would approximately take 21-25 days but through Pregnancy, Child Tracking & Health Services Management, the time frame is reduced to 3-5 days. The programme has not been released in the public domain as yet.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
The presentations were followed by an interactive session between the participants and the floor was left open for comments, and suggestions. Dr Maheshwari raised a question about how to work with government agencies and gain their support. A unanimous agreement was made on the need for e-governance to bolster questions development as opposed to just ICT. A road show was proposed to bring more representatives from the government together with private players from different sectors to interact and find solutions. Mr. Manzar suggested a blueprint or anthology of the best practices or ideas that came up in such forums to be published for the government to study and validate. Ms Aujla also offered to put Manthan Awards on Ideawicket as it too is an innovative idea that supports the congregation of innovators to find developmental solutions. There are several best practices among different states in the areas of technology enabling for delivery health services. There can be a framework that dovetails all these best practices that give a roadmap to a state for implementation of technology for accelerating healthcare delivery technology – A Model State Health Delivery platform.
The session was concluded at 5:30 pm with a vote of thanks by the moderator.
Name of the Session : PEOPLE’S EMPOWERMENT & MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES: UNITING COMMUNITIES THROUGH 3 G NETWORKS
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 9:30 AM- 1:00 PM
About the Session: Since Mobile is one of the fastest penetrating devices across the India and South Asia, especially after reaching to almost 500 million, it was just appropriate that the discussion centred on the larger implications of this device, since it is oral, multimedia, and has reach in rural areas also. This session showcased some of the best mobile based applications and initiatives where the device has proved to be highly effective in serving the masses. The session also delved in discussing policy issues as how various government and business services could be reached to the masses through mobile devices in local languages and in oral medium. About 60-70 persons were in attendance in this important session.
Chairperson: Mr. Sandeep Bhargava, Head Corporate Affairs, Nokia Siemens Networks
Moderator: Dr Subho Ray, President, Internet & Mobile Association of India.
List of Presenters:
- Pocket Travel Assistant, mobilewish.com – Rourkela, Odisha, INDIA – Mr. Samir Kumar Dash
- Multilingual Text Renderer for Mobile Phones, Tata Consultancy Services, Thane, Maharashtra, INDIA – Ms. Adya Shankar
- FarmERP Mobile, Shivrai Technologies Pvt. Ltd., Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. Sanjay Borkar
- Mutho-Sangbad, M/S Hridi – Mr. Saleh Zillur Rahman, Dhaka, BANGLADESH
- Mango Application Framework, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Manohar Bhangera
- Tata Consultancy Services & Tata Chemicals Ltd. – Mr. Dinesh Kumar Singh
- MAT, mobapps.org, Surat, Gujarat, INDIA – Prof. Kiran Trivedi
- SMS based Complaints Tracking System for ‘Turant Chovis’ Scheme (CTS) Nasik Rural Police, State of Maharashtra, Nasik, Maharashtra, INDIA – Inspector Parag Jhadav
When the session assembled, the chairperson, Mr. Sandeep Bhargava, initiated the attendees into the topic at hand straight away and enlightened them with the current scenario vis-a-vis this fast growing sector. He gave a knowledgeable insight into the telecom sector and then the moderator, Dr. Subho Ray complemented him by delivering further inputs to the issue to be discussed. The, moderator played his usual role of a duty bound time keeper and informed everybody accordingly to do their best in maintaining sanctity of allotted time and refrain away from many other side things on this vast topic.
The first presentation was made on the Pocket Travel Assistant (PTA) by Mr. Samir Kumar Dash from mobilewish.com to showcase the potential of mobile technology. The PTA is a mobile with a travel oriented application which serves as a one-stop solution for weather details, images of specific locations and addresses of places. It is integrated with Google Maps and Wikipedia and can also provide location specific news along with world headlines from BBC, Yahoo.com and CNN. The application also has a language translation function for English, Dutch, Czech, Finnish, French, German and Greek, currency conversion and M-books. The Hindi version of the PTA is still at the planning stage and the application can be downloaded free of cost. The PTA is different from regular palmtops as it is software with an open OES and the mobiles can be varied devices. A drawback for the PTA however is that there is no data available from non mobile specific open APIs and the memory capacity is small.
The second presenter was Ms Adya Shankar from Tata Consultancy Services, Thane. She made her presentation on Multilingual Text Renderer for Mobile Phones (MLTR) to provide for mobile penetration in rural areas. With the increase in the number of rural wireless subscribers at 125.95 million today, there is an increase in the need for content delivery and communication in local languages. MLTR is Internet based store house, displays content in local languages which include English, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Tamil and Malayalam. The display works through a Unicode input which in processed, then the language is processed followed by layout management which gets converted into display text. MLTR paves the way for easy integration, dynamic content, can be used on all mobile handsets, leaves a small footprint and can accommodate different fonts per language. Direct application of the MLTR can be seen in mKRISHI- an agricultural advisory system for farming in Marathi and GappGoshti- social networking for farmers. Micro blogging can also be done as the input is voice-based. In brief MLTR is a Internet based store house, mass appeal, and challenge to push content, phones restricted to voice memory.
The third presenter was by Mr. Sanjay Borkar from Shivrai Technologies on FarmERP Mobile. The focus of FarmERP is the use of IT applications in agriculture for the past 7 years. It is a computer software solution that keeps details about farm management. As there is an increase in the rural mobile users with the telecomm revolution, FarmERP can be used to store agro content, applications and utilities. Size of the FarmERP is small ie.62 kb. For example, two mobile utilities were introduced specifically for grape farmers: a grape pesticide selector and grape MRL (maximum residue level) values which are calculated based on specifications provided. FarmERP is free, simple to download, install and use. It has a user friendly display and eliminates paper. It gives instant on-farm availability of information. In the future, regional language versions will be introduced for different crops and agricultural calculators for daily activities on the farm. As most wastage happens in the cotton and tobacco sectors, this application’s full potential can be exercised in that sector in the future.
The fourth presentation was on Mutho-Sangbad (MS) by Mr. Saleh Zillur Rahman from Dhaka. MS aims to bring news to its users’ fingertips. According to Mr. Rahman, there is very low information dissemination about Bangladesh and it is given little coverage in the world news. As there is a low literacy rate and infrastructure is poorly formed in the country, the MS has faced a lot of challenges in the past. Among the Bangladeshis, 64% read Bangla only; English has little scope in the country. Thus MS follows an English-Bangla approach. The application is independent of the handset manufacturer, telecomm operator and geographical location; there is no need to download any fonts for the display. MS also aims to be interactive as users can comment on news articles. With a population of 160 million in places with no newspaper, television or radio, mobile technology has great untapped potential. By partnering with local news partners and TV channels, 12 million Non Resident Bangladeshis will be able to receive Bangla news on their handsets.
Mr. Manohar Bhangera from Mango Application Framework, Bangalore presented next about Mango Application Framework, an innovation for low cost computing frameworks for application development content delivery. The organization partners with hardware vendors and OEM/ODM Carriers. The USP of the MAF is that it has a good user interface, requires the least time to market, has high performance on a single chip solution, has the lowest total cost of a handset and is localized as it offers market specific applications. The architecture of the framework was explained by Mr. Bhangera. Mango hosts net book applications, farming communication applications, telemedicine, e-learning and m-banking solutions. The overall aim of MAF is to enrich one’s mobile experience. The future of MAF lies in the enhancement of server solutions which is context based content delivery. The MAF thus helps in bridging the digital divide, creating opportunities and provides greater access to information and in turn empowering people.
The sixth presentation was made by Mr. Dinesh Kumar Singh on behalf of the Tata Consultancy Services & Tata Chemicals Ltd. Mr. Singh explained in great detail the functioning of mKrishi, an agricultural advisory system. mKrishi aims to give personalized advice to farmers. The system had a soft launch with a pilot run in Punjab and UP among other states. According to Mr. Singh, “The agricultural industry in India is a knowledge based industry,” and so mKrishi will have a great impact on all farmers alike. The programme acts as an “umbrella of solutions” as it enables two-way interaction, access to unified view of information, provides dynamic information from individual rural farmers to experts; in other words “the farmer and farm are brought to the experts digitally”. The system reduces inefficiencies and increases the farmers’ productivity, making farming affordable and thus creating wealth in rural economies at a marginal rate of Rs. 15 for 3 months. This system addresses the key issues of rural India like internet penetration, power availability etc.
The following presentation was made by Prof. Kiran Trivedi from mobapps.org, Surat. Professor Trivedi introduced various sensors for mobiles to “bring data directly to the device”. He developed these sensors using open source hardware and software. Data may be transferred via Bluetooth over the air or a USB Cable. He envisaged two-way communication between a headset and mobile device where the headset could also send information to the device instead of just the device sending information to the headset. Professor Trivedi developed a Sensor Cap along the same lines which detects gas, temperature, humidity, distance and smoke. The application reads environmental data from its sensors and then displays it on the mobile screen. As it uses an external hardware, it is handy to access. The current status of the application, MAT is that it is 90% functional and since it is an open source project, it will work on all S60 2nd and 3rd edition phones. The programming language used is PYTHON and the application can be made available for the cost of Rs. 75 only. He is also developing an ultrasonic sensor for visually impaired people to calculate distance and send it as a voice message. This can be very innovative for people with disabilities and special needs.
The last presentation for the session was made by Inspector Parag Jhadav from the Nasik Rural Police on “Turant Chovis” or SMS-based Complaints Tracking System (CTS). CTS provides the residents of Nasik with a quick redressal system through the use of SMS. Once the police station receives a complaint from a citizen, action will be taken within 24 hours and completed within 30 days. The system is a GSM based SMS communication. An SMS is sent from the police station to the system based on the action code entry sent; tracking is done on the steps being taken within the stipulated time frame. In case of inaction, alert messages will be sent to the station concerned. Thus far 96% of the cases received have been resolved within the time limit. The conclusive reports include the station involved, its daily action to resolve the case and periodic action followed by a summary report. This system also helps gauge the performance of police employees. On being asked if the complainant can file their complaint from home, Inspector Jhadav replied that they can in fact file a complaint from home but for lodging an FIR, the person would have to visit the station personally. The cost of the software is Rs. 20,000 and the running cost of the system is just the SMS rate. There is no maintenance required barring the cell phone number updates.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
To summarize the session, the Chairman, Mr. Sandeep Bhargava reiterated that Mobile Technology must be used to address the mass community in India as mobiles are the best device to penetrate to the grassroot level. The usage of the vast potential is too low currently. He also informed the delegates that more bandwidth will be made available by BSNL and MTNL by Diwali to take the reach of 3G networks further.
The last section of Question answer came out with following conclusion: that DEF should have a web based platform to exchange and sharing of ideas. HCL agrees to help to reach out community in rural market etc like NREGA. There should be innovation forum under MIT.
The session concluded at 1:30 pm.
Name of the Session : Digital Approach for Education, Learning and Human Resource Development
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM
About the Session: The biggest challenge for nations like India remains to meaningfully provide education to masses, make them skilled for employment to engage them fruitfully, and use various digital media, ICT tools, and create policies where each and every educational institution and government machinery should take advantage of ICT infrastructure, e-application, e-learning platforms, and growing penetration of mobile, internet, and other digital media platforms, like radio and TV. This session showcased some of the best practices on the subject and came out with some recommendations for the Ministry of HRD.
Chairperson & Moderator: Mr. Subhash C. Khuntia, IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD
List of Presenters:
- Empowering Underprivileged Youths in BANGLADESH, D.Net – Mr. Ajoy Kumar Bose
- Wikigoviya, Audio Visual Centre (AVC), Department of Agriculture (DOA), SRI LANKA – Dr. Rohan Wijekoon
- e-budhani, Rohini Science Club (RSC) – Ranchi, Jharkhand, INDIA – Mr. G V S R Prasad
- ThinkQuest.Com, Oracle Education Initiatives – Mr Ajay Kapur
- upscportal.com, Kalinjar Technologies, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Mr. Rahul Gupta
- EasyNow, CEMCA, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Ms. Savitri Singh
- “Tiger’s Job”, Kolkata, West Bengal, INDIA – Dr. A. K. Banerjee Choudhury
- Gujarat Common Entrance Test, (GCET) 2009 – An online computer based testing system for admissions in Professional Courses (MBA & MCA), Gujarat Knowledge Society – Mr. Manish Bhardwaj, Former GKS Director & GKS Representative
- CAPnic, The Commissioner For Entrance Exam. Thiruvananthapuram, Govt of Kerala, Thiruvanathpuram, Kerala, INDIA – Mr. Asir Edwin
- e- Samvad, Office of Commissioner, Higher Education, Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Sanjay Jha
- MP State School Education Portal- Use of ICT for Responsive and Transparent Governance, Rajya Shiksha Kendra, School Education Department, Govt. of MP, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Manoj Jhalani
- Implementation of Shared Computing Technology in 5,000 Govt. Schools in AP, India, NComputing, Inc, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, INDIA – Mr. Amit Khanna
Mr. Subhash C Kuntia, IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, moderator-cum-chair for the session ignited the session by stating – ICT offers a huge advantage to an emerging economy with scarce resources and a large constituency. It is the knowledge economy that enables the maximum utilization of available factors of production especially where labour as an input is abundantly available. ICT is not just Internet and computers, it also includes writing and telephones and that is what makes ICT a special policy tool.
Some of those excellence in learning and Human resource development has been presented in the session of Digital Approach for Education, Learning and HRD, chaired by Mr. Subhash C. Khuntia, IAS joint secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, showcased such best practices.
The project titled “Empowering Underprivileged Youth in Bangladesh through Computer Literacy” undertaken by Volunteer Association for Bangladesh is such an effort. The project started in 2005 is intended to facilitate access to knowledge of ICT by the rural disadvantaged people particularly the youth to help them able to face global challenges. Mr. Ajoy Kumar Bose said as of December 2009, the CLP has established 107 CLCs primarily in selected rural educational institutions in 39 districts of Bangladesh. Internet connection has been provided to 59 of these institutions. Computer Literacy Program (CLP) is a trendsetter initiative of Volunteers Association for Bangladesh, New Jersey, USA and D.Net. Its aim is to explore the growth potentials of underprivileged youths in rural Bangladesh by providing them with first basics of computer know-how and then computer aided education.
Another effort was Wikigoviya, a participatory and interactive web tool for agriculture development in Sri Lanka through the participation of Agriculture Community. Dr. Rohan Wijekoon had given insight that the project provides information related to agriculture as a web based solution to reach rural population. It is an ideal tool to meet the needs of the farming community as a whole as 14.6% of Sri Lankan population depends upon agriculture. The literal meaning of Wikigoviya says Wiki means Web and Goviya means Agriculture. A web based encyclopedia for Sri Lanka agriculture. Updated and nourished by the Agriculture Community. Resulted in a complete participatory encyclopedia for Sri Lankan agriculture. Till now Indian government has provided full support in all possible means.
E–Budhani presented by Mr. G V S R Prasad of Rohini Science Club, Ranchi is an effort in making learning elementary science concepts easy and more fun. E-Bhudhani multimedia CD-ROM has been developed for the multi-grade and multi-level class-room students of classes III, IV and V. It is based on the concept of education with entertainment. It is an interactive CD-ROM for learning the concepts of Environmental Science. If content is simple and designed keeping local context and language in mind, there will be more takers for it. This has been the base while developing E – Budhani. This organization Rohini Science Club was started in 1973.
Think Quest by Oracle Education Initiatives, is just another example. At the time of its launch, it was called Think.com. Mr Ajay Kapur, Director, Oracle Educaton Foundation told, the idea was developed by Oracle Education Organization – an NGO run by Oracle. ThinkQuest.com is a website seeking to inspire students to think, connect, share and create innovative and educational websites. Students are supposed to work in teams to build websites, and along the way learn how to research, write, teamwork, and technology skills and compete for incredible prizes. The topics of the websites must be within the educational field. They provide a kid-friendly online environment. The teams who create the winning websites are eligible for prizes, and entries may be published in the popular ThinkQuest Library.
Ms. Savitri Singh enlightened the members present there with Easy Now developed by CEMCA, which is a collection of software that is commonly used for easy e – content uploads. It is an open source library which enhances the learning experience by providing different learning styles. It is basically meant for teachers. CEMCA’s EasyNow is a platform that brings together easy-to-use technologies that enable teachers to create learning materials in an array of delivery modes. EasyNow also integrates into formats for learners with visual impairments. EasyNow offers fast downloads, which is particularly important for those with low bandwidth Internet connections.
“Tiger’s Job” by Dr. Asesh Banerjee Choudhury ,an application of multimedia CD for children to support ‘inclusive education’, Computer literacy, Promoting child development, Increase of general knowledge and I.Q level. CD project of twenty-four animated nursery rhymes in Bengali, English and Hindi with interactive Question-Answer session (text, picture and audio). Fantasy, rhythm and style in nursery rhymes attract children as inevitable part of their growing up. Innovative rhymes on to-day’s child’s surroundings are therefore used for development of the natural talents of all categories of children through a joyful process. Underlying objectives: strengthening imagination, learning moral values, developing consciousness of the socio-technological environment and acquiring skills through various activities. Question-answer-part/activities can be changed for a particular child or group of children recognizing their potential. The child can also be taught to navigate/learn independently and gather information from Internet. This CD, apart from study materials, will equip the class-teacher with options/activities to engage children of varying abilities in an ideal class-room environment of ‘inclusive education’.
Gujarat Common Entrance Test – an online computer based testing system for admissions in professional courses (MBA & MCA) organized by Gujarat Knowledge Society for the first time. First time in India that any State Government level entrance exam was conducted online. Insight to GCET system was given by Mr. Manish Bhardwaj, Former GKS Director, how the entire system from registering at the test centre till students get the score cards is indeed commendable. The functioning is user-friendly and smooth. The online test system is devised in the most considerate way, with one question appearing on the screen at a time, facility for going back and forth and also an option to mark a particular question for review later, along with question numbers catalogued on a side panel whereby the candidate can jump to any question as required. A meticulously developed and a well maintained system for online aptitude examination. It was proved to be a very cost saving procedure. University was able to save Rs. 9000/- per candidate in a total savings of 27, 35,640 man hours. Hence, was proved a very cost effective examination.
e-Samvad was the next presentation by Mr. Sanjay Jha of Higher Education Department, MP, he said this project is self developed, unaided by any financial agency. No external agency made software modules are used, under coverage the complete state is covered and beneficiaries are up to an extent of cent percent, as site is accessible to all the sectors of the department. To strengthen the system, colleges at regional level were linked for realizing information in electronically accessible format. The practicality of this project can be estimated by the study of hit counter attached with the site. The information gathering at Apex unit of the department is done via college situated at Regional head quarters. As the information collected from various units is in the same format, compilation is done electronically without manual typographical exercise. At government level, time and labour was saved for ease of working in implementation of policies & schemes. He also stated that this new system has almost eliminated expense on postal charges, time delay in information collection and simultaneously ensured reliability of data through checks and validations. Instant availability of updated information, time efficient and time bound information flow for execution of policies.
Mr. Sunil Jain, technical director NIC,MP, has given the insight that MP State School Education Portal. MP School education department is one of the largest departments in terms of engagement of human resources in the govt. sector in MP. The portal facilitates the department to administer more than 1.10 lac schools, 3.5 lac teachers and monitor the competency levels of more than 1.60 crore students. The portal also acts as a sign-on for various process automation applications and facilitate a common platform for the dissemination of information and collaboration between departments and agencies working for school education. The application stack includes Content Management, Payroll, HR Management, Civil Works, Inspections, Monthly tests to assess the subject-wise competency level of students and performance of staff and schools.
Next presentation by Mr. M Asir Edwin, Technical Director, NIC Kerala, that the NIC state centre has developed a software application named CAPnic to allot seats for the professional courses in Kerala. It is an open-source solution based on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP). The candidates’ choice of the colleges and courses are received online. The same options are used for the allotment/re-allotment of seats. About 28 lakh options have been received from 55,000 candidates. The system handled transactions for an amount of more than 60 crores of rupees. Unlike previous years, the current system has the advantage that the candidates can send in their options from anywhere. Colleges and courses can be added even after counseling is started. A candidate can change or rearrange the options at any point of time. He gave insight that the government, colleges and citizens save a lot of money and time by adopting the new system.
Next sharing was from Mr. Rahul Gupta on his work upscportal.com– India’s First IAS, UPSC, IFS, PCS, Civil Services Community Website, this website is the product of Kalinjar Technologies. Website is having more than 74000 registered members. It is having 1.8 million hits per day which is more than UPSC official website. Its core features are repository of study material, free help to aspirants, hindi content for north Indian rural member, online community forums, polls, free resources for all, always. He told under this portal they also provide online magazine, free for all its online members and also they have online store for all the UPSC related stuff, in which shipping is free all over the India. He told that they are engaged in this work because they are passionate about building online communities.
N – Computing presented by Mr. Amit Khanna, business development Manager of NComputing said that it has become the largest shared computing deployment in India. In this CPU is shared through a device called Access Device (Rs. 4000) which has reduced the upfront and hardware cost by 40% to 50% as well as the ongoing maintenance and electricity usage by 90%.The NComputing solution is based on a simple fact: today’s PCs are so powerful that the vast majority of applications only use a small fraction of the computer’s capacity. NComputing’s virtualization software and hardware tap this unused capacity so that it can be simultaneously shared by multiple users. The NComputing virtualization software is loaded onto a standard Windows or Linux PC. Each user’s monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the shared PC through a small and highly reliable NComputing access device. The device itself has no CPU, memory, or moving parts so it is easy to deploy and maintain. Over 500,000 NComputing systems have been deployed by 15,000 organizations to slash their computing costs as much as 70%.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
The session was reasoned out at 1:15 PM with the following discussion with Mr. Subhash C Khuntia and the knowledge experts present there – Though these technologies have proved themselves but now the question arises as how to relate these technologies – internet and computers with the places where there is no electricity, no proper schooling, places such as tribal areas. The only answer to these queries is that not only computers but radio and mobiles can also be used as the ICT tools. LPG generator sets can be used as an alternate to power supply. People from Tilonia, Rajasthan also participated in the discussion by giving the factious scenario at the ground level.
It is very well said that Impossible is Nothing but the efforts are required to achieve the success and those efforts, innovations an alternates to our small hindrances will have to be found so as to come out as a single power and grow as a nation. It is always with us, the people, that the nation progresses.
With this there was an exciting inaugural on Self Learning Kit by Mr. Subhash C Kuntia. All the people present there applauded the joint efforts of Micro Associates, CORE Technologies, Bhugol GIS & Digital Empowerment Foundation. This Self Learning Kit is a collection of digital learning materials and software application for Geographical Information System study.
The session was concluded with vote of thanks to Mr. Subhash C Kuntia by Mr. Sandeep Bhargava , Head Corporate Affairs, Nokia Siemens Networks.
Name of the Session : E-COMMERCE & BUSINESS & ECONOMIC INCLUSION
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 9:30 AM- 1:00 PM
About the Session: This session delved on the importance of affordable, quality and accessible content and services for enhanced business processes until the last mile putting the right kind of ICT infrastructure. Showcasing some of the best practices, who are already doing great linking work with the masses with brilliant business logic and entrepreneurial adventure – in other words, the session got deep into, e-commerce, e-business, and entrepreneurship where the final beneficiary is the people and masses. In this session, there were 20-30 people in attendance.
Chaiperson: Dr. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Director, India Development Foundation
Moderator: Dr. Madanmohan Rao, Member, Grand Jury
List of Presenters:
- EGMM, Employment Generation and Marketing Mission (EGMM), Department of Rural Development, Govt. of A.P. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA – Ms. Meera Shenoy
- Campus Fever Online Application Forms, Campus Fever, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA – Mr. Kaustubh Verma
- iXiGO.com, Le Travenues Technology (P) Ltd, Gurgaon, Haryana, INDIA – Mr. Aloke Bajpai
- KHETI – Rural e-Services in India, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA & Sheffield Hallam University, UK – Dr. S. M. Haider Rizvi
- Dynamic Market Information, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, INDIA – Dr. N. Anandaraja
At the start of the session, the moderator of the session Dr. Madanmohan Rao gave a brief background on the topic at hand and then informed all of the need to honour the scheduled time limit and other disciplines of the session. He then called the first presenter to showcase his work to the audience.
The session began with Mr. Aloke Bajpai of iXiGO.com, a travel search web portal launched in 2007. iXiGO is an infomediary that aggregates searches for flights, hotels and buses, by searching across 50 different websites to compare prices and information across multiple travel search criteria. They do not handle booking of tickets (unlike Online Travel Agencies) but instead redirect the user to book directly from the travel provider’s page.iXiGO.com was founded by Le Travenues Technology Pvt Ltd. He stated that the site has 12% of its user base as NRIs and foreign nationals. iXiGO’s revenue model is based on pay per click advertising, tie ups with prominent airlines and hotels in India and selling advertising space on their website. They work with over 40 hotel aggregators such as Travelguru.com and hostelworld.com and all the leading airlines in the Indian aviation sector such as Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Indigo Airlines. They have been voted as India’s fastest growing travel search engine. He emphasised on more government support for such initiatives.
This was followed by a presentation from the Employment Generation and Marketing Mission (EGMM). The producer of the project Ms Meera Shenoy explained how the project identifies and trains the youth for employment/employability. She then introduced two youngsters who were the products of the programme. Ms Shenoy explained how the programme had trained 260,000 youth in 5 years with over 70% placements; and that now 83.6% of those remit money back home. This displays the success of the programme. She also added that since it used transaction based software, total transparency was ensured. Before ending her presentation, Ms Shenoy insisted on a government IT programme for more transparency.
Mr. Kaustabh Verma of Campus Fever was the next to present. It is a website for online sale of application forms and payment of fees of educational institutions. Mr. Verma said that since its inception in October 2008, the site had had 4 partners for application forms and several big names for organising and sponsoring events e.g. Amity University, IIT-B, BITS Pilani, etc. He clarified that the site did not charge anything extra over the cost of the form. He also recommended that more functional Entrepreneurship Development Cells be facilitated by the government to help aspiring young entrepreneurs of the future.
The fourth presenter of the session was Dr. S M Haider Rizvi from KHETI: Rural e-Services in India. Kheti is a user developed communication concept combining cell phone camera software and web 2.0 services which provides the user with an interface to create a multimedia package, known as SDS, consisting of 6 pictures and 1 video. It enables the experts to view the uploaded package on the website and offer their advice on a variety of issues like health, agriculture, etc. He informed everyone that since July 2008, over 300 SDSs had been uploaded on the website, which uses the local language of the masses- Hindi.
The final presenter of the session was Dr. N Anandaraja from Dynamic Market Information. He explained how his site is a collection of market data and information and sharing of content for promoting collectivism among members. The website, he explained, partners with Apple iPhone for creating and disseminating SDS; and also organises buyer-seller meets. It is also offering free services to 5000 farmers and 200 scientists through SMS in mobile phones.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
In the end, the chair concluded by applauding the initiatives of the presenters in doing great linking work with the masses with brilliant business logic and entrepreneurial adventure. He emphasised on the need to make it easier for start-ups and NRIs; and paying more attention to business models.
Name of the Session : Social Inclusion, Localization and New Media and Digital Tools
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
About the Session: This session looked into some of the best practices in inclusion in areas facilitating empowerment of the differently able population, women, tribal communities, minorities through digital content and medium. The focus was on tools, mediums, content services delivery for information and knowledge empowerment. The focus remained on ICT and digital approach towards localization. Altogether 40-50 persons attended the session.
Chairperson: Dr. Arun Mehta MD of Radiophony & Manthan Awardee 2008
Moderator: Mr. V K Madhavan,- Executive Director, Chirag
List of Presenters:
- Daisy Forum of India, Saksham Trust, New Delhi, Delhi, INDIA – Mr. Dipendra Manocha
- Farmsoft, Rareworld Technologies, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA -Mr. Ashok Rawal
- Online hearing Screening, AYJNIHH, Mumbai, Maharashtra, INDIA – Mr. P.J. Mathew Martin
- Chhattisgarhi KDE 4.2 Program Suit, http://raviratlami.blogspot.com, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, INDIA –Mr. Ravishankar Shrivastava
- Hindi Wordnet and Associated Software Programs, Center for Indian Language Technology, IIT Bombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra, INDIA – Prof. Pushpak Bhattachrayya
- www.comjagat.com, Computer Jagat, BANGLADESH – Mr. Md. Abdul Wahed Tomal
- Peer Water Exchange portal, Peer Water Exchange, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Rajesh Shah
- Messages in-a-box & Mobiles-in-a-box, Tactical Technology Collective India, Bangalore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Allan Stanley
This session on was chaired by Dr. Arun Mehta of Radiophony & Manthan Awardee 2008 and moderated by Mr. V K Madhavan, Executive Director, Chirag. It looked into some of the best practices in inclusion in areas facilitating empowerment of the differently able population, women, tribal communities and minorities through digital content and medium.
Bringing the differently – abled people at par with others is a challenging task. Mr. Dipendra Manocha from Daisy Forum of India is involved in production of books and reading materials in accessible formats for the print impaired. They have evolved a central and common book cataloguing and distributing system and providing cost effective book reading / playback devices and systems, their ‘Buddy player’ the world’s cheapest DTB Player. They are promoting the use of standards in book production process (DAISY standards provide maximum accessibility for all).They are also accumulating all content prepared in accessible formats (such as audio, Braille & e-text) throughout the country and abroad.
Next presentation was made by Mr. Ashok Rawal from Rare World Technologies, Ujjain about the FarmSoft which has enabled backward integration of the supply chain management process for a contract farming company covering all its field activities. It is a mobile-based application used by field workers, who can collect almost every information from the farmer. This includes personal details, sowing pattern for the season, inventory, seed, fertiliser management, etc. The users are trained to overcome their lack of computer literacy and for the using the application. Contract farming activity by its very nature is a widespread activity and data collected earlier was being provided manually in hand-written formats. The solution offered applications over a hand-held device that helped the digitisation of data at the grassroots level.
With the rapid spread of the internet in India, Ali Yavar Jung National Institute For The Hearing Handicapped (AYJNIHH) has developed an Online Hearing Screening to ascertain whether or not someone requires hearing. Mr. P J Mathew Martin Co-investigator of the research told that it was launched in December ’06 and is the first and only website in itself in India. This wallenging task. Mr. Dipendra Manocha from eb based programme is one of its kind which will facilitate screening for hearing of any age group and provides information on the places where facilities are available for further diagnosis and intervention for the same. The main objective of this project is to adopt, design, and device the information technology to reach out to all, in terms of screening, professional guidance and referral services for professional help in India. The report generation facility designed through computerized calculations and logic after screening aims to provide the user with the knowledge of his/her hearing sensitivity. The project also aims to check the utility of the website devised and designed. The users of the website are also given further solution through referral service facility with a provision to upgrade the referral system.
Another example of localization was presented by Mr. Ravishankar Shrivastava the KDE Chhattisgarhi project aimed to remove Digital Divide from native Chhattisgarhi speaking people of Chhattisgarh. With this users need not know English language to work on computer anymore. Chhattisgarhi KDE 4.2 Program Suite is a localization project aimed to remove digital divide from native Chhattisgarhi speaking people of Chhattisgarh state in India. More than 100,000 strings of KDE 4.2 had been translated in to Chhattisgarhi. The Chhattisgarhi-localized applications are available for Linux, Unix, Windows, and Mac. It is a first of its kind applications suite for the Windows platform, in any Indian regional language. The applications suite will allows users not knowing the English language surf Internet, email, work on office suite, and play games in their native Chhattisgarhi language.
A presentation on bringing Indian languages on the global map through making computational translation easier was held. Prof. Pushpak Bhattacharya from CFILT, IIT Bombay through his presentation encouraged a bit of research that revealed more about WordNets in general and the Hindi WordNet in particular. Simply put, WordNets are vocabulary databases. Based on the concept of the English WordNet, the Hindi WordNet is a system for bringing together different lexical and semantic relations between Hindi words. The ultimate goal of Wordnet is to capture words of all Indian languages, facilitate translations and help in creating better Indian language search engines.
Next presentation was by Mr. Md. Abdul Wahed Tomal, CEO www.comjagat.com, he said this portal has given an unique platform for the IT companies and SMEs to creat a organizational profile page in Bangla, which is actually enriching the local content in the Internet. And there exists no such Bangla Content Management System which allow user to archive all types of content free of cost and gives option for customized searching. This is the first and only complete IT portal in Bangladesh that contains all the archive of its print magazine and all the contents has customized searchable option both Bangla and English.This portal gives the opportunity to the user to publish latest ICT news to the portal of their own through SMS from anywhere in Bangladesh.
The Peer Water Exchange (PWX – www.peerwater.org) – an online platform to foster collaboration, raise funding for high-potential projects, and share experience and project data – is Blue Planet Run’s answer to this challenge. Mr.Rajseh Shah creator & head of PWX has given the light on, what global online network aims to: It connect people working on water and sanitation projects at the grassroots level to the other actors in order to empower their initiatives and increase capacity through a collaborative process of peer review and project monitoring. It generate an open, growing database of sustainable water solutions, including project descriptions, challenges, impact, and lessons learned in order to promote replication, success, and increased funding. Also leverage information among funders, researchers, scientists, and service providers in order to increase the cost effectiveness and sustainability of providing safe water for all.
Message in-a-box: Tools and tactics for communicating your cause is a set of strategic guides to using communications tools for social change, together with a suite of open source tools to get you making your own media, presented by Mr. Allan Stanley from Tactical Technology Collective India. The toolkit is designed for small and medium-sized NGOs, advocates, and citizen journalists to help them create and distribute content for their advocacy efforts while exploring the constantly evolving world of campaigning and communications. Message in-a-box provides accessible and effective training materials on selected free software tools and web applications with a focus on giving people what they need to know in order to create and distribute content. The materials cover print publishing, using images, internet, audio, video and mobile phones. Despite the fact that these tools are free, there are still obstacles to NGOs using them effectively to make a difference to the marginalised communities they are working with.
Recommendations & Suggestions:
The session was concluded with the discussion on what exercises like the Manthan Awards reveal is the sheer number of great ideas out there in the field of digital inclusion. The unlikeliest people from the unlikeliest part of the country come up with digital solutions that can touch millions of rural and urban people. And because their ideas are digital they don’t need machineries, factories, licenses, assembly lines, supply chains or human resource departments. All they need is sometimes a stage on which to talk about their ideas and find believers. These were the thoughts shared in the social inclusion and localization session by Dr. Arun Mehta, Mr. VK Madhavan, and the practitioners present there.
Session was adjourned at 5:30pm, with many of the people networked to the practitioners of the similar idea that would leverage the efforts they are doing in the same arena. Mr. Tomal from Bangladesh has purposed to Mr. Allan Stanley to mutually work in the area of youth empowerment.
Name of the Session : DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES & PRESERVATION OF CULTURE & HERITAGE
Date: 19th DECEMBER 2009 (DAY 2)
Time: 2:00 AM- 4:30 PM
About the session: This session looked into some of the best in terms of what is happening across the country on how local culture heritage and entertainment is reaching out through the digital content and medium. This provided for an opportunity on deliberating how we can globalize the national treasure of culture, heritage, tourism and local entertainment. About 30-40 persons attended the session in all.
Chairperson: Mr. Rajen Varada, Resource Person, UN Solution Exchange
Moderator: Mr. Sidin Vadukut, Managing Editor of LiveMint.com
List of Presenters:
- Grassroutes, Grassroutes, Mysore, Karnataka, INDIA – Mr. Keerthikiran K
- MAM Movies, MAM Movies, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, INDIA –Mr. Madhusudan Agrawal
- MyWebERA, MyWebERA, Kolkata, West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. Surjyadeb Goswami
- BurialsInindia.net, Computax Consultants, Kolkata, West Bengal, INDIA – Mr. Arijit Mitra
The session was managed jointly by the two grand jurors of the Manthan Award South Asia 2009, Mr. Rajen Varada and Mr. Sidin Vadukut; Mr. Rajen started the session with the opening remarks -“Digital technologies and the Internet are opening the door to new forms of expression, changing the roles played by cultural institutions, and placing the audience and user increasingly center stage” the session saw 4 wonderful and lively presentations from organisations and individuals who are working day and night to use the digital media in preserving the national treasure of culture, heritage, tourism and local entertainment. He then dutifully called on everybody to respect the slotted time limit and called on the first presenter.
The session was managed jointly by the two grand jurors Mr. Rajen and Mr. Sidin; Mr. Rajen started the session with the opening remarks -“Digital technologies and the Internet are opening the door to new forms of expression, changing the roles played by cultural institutions, and placing the audience and user increasingly center stage” the session saw 4 wonderful and lively presentations from organisations and individuals who are working day and night to use the digital media in preserving the national treasure of culture, heritage, tourism and local entertainment.
The first presenter was Mr. Keerthikaran K, from Grassroutes.in, a fellowship programme for youth which encourages them to go on road trips across rural India to help and work with local organisations to create significant impact at the grassroots. He explained that the one year old programme started by students from BITS, Pilani; packaged the trips into stories in the form of travelogues, photos, photo essays, blogs, etc. and took them to public forums like Facebook, Twitter, etc. for the world to see. Grassroutes is passionate about bringing people together and sharing experiences that enrich lives. Our philosophy is founded on respect – for the environment, the culture and the community. Grassroutes provide opportunities for travellers to engage with local communities by working in partnership with the people whose lives; stories and experiences make our authentic journeys so unique. Grassroutes fosters positive and effective communication to bridge boundaries and open up possibilities.
Next, Mr. Madhusudan Agarwal from MAM Movies presented his unique approach to philanthropy. MAM Movies brings out and showcases untold stories of unlikely, everyday heroes to the mainstream, with the sole purpose of positive mood building. Mr. Agarwal emphasised that this project was a non-profit venture relying totally on voluntary contributions. He also highlighted a few of the pivotal projects the organisation has undertaken in the past including the “I am the Change” film project, which had 101 filmmakers making 101 short films on 101 social causes; and the “She Creates” film project which focussed on empowering rural and underprivileged women as Citizen Journalists. A community of young filmmakers and artists, who use media, the arts and technology to inform, inspire and empower others to create positive action in the world.
MyWebEra, a web portal launched on August 15, 2008 focussing on building an online platform for creativity in the fields of painting, animation and gaming; was the next organisation to present. Its founder Mr. Surjyadeb Goswami explained how the portal is open to all users and nurtures the young talent of children through reaching animation and art schools across India, and organising competitions from time to time. MyWebERA is a product from Chennai based start-up with three of its online entities is providing a platform for not just to create their your own community, write blogs and network with friends across the globe, but to ’share’ their own creations and share it with other users of same interest be it Gaming, Animation or Art/Painting. Gamers/ games developers can upload their own games to get appreciation or boo from other users, similarly Animators and painters can share their creations to share it online with viewers all around the web. One can also sell their creations i.e. designed games, paintings. or animations online with desired price and at the same time brush up their skills via interacting with gamers, painters and animators across the globe & gain more exposure to your like minded people.
Lastly, Mr. Arijit Mitra presented his project- a web portal called Burialsinindia.net, which keeps a record of all the graves in all the cemeteries in the city of Kolkata. He emphasised the importance of the portal as a track of the Anglo-Indian history of the city and enabling several commoners to locate and pay homage to their departed ancestors. He also added that it also serves as an e-commerce gateway for enhancing “graveyard tourism.” Mr. Mitra stated that he had plans to venture into other towns and cities of India after finishing his job in Kolkata. Soon, a click of the mouse will reveal the exact location of a grave in the major cemeteries of Kolkata. The process of digitizing records of more than 100,000 burials and 20,000 graves has begun .Once the process is completed, Europeans can easily find out where their ancestors who were part of the British East India Company are buried. Then, not only would Europeans love to visit the tombs of their ancestors, but even domestic tourists may like to see the last resting places of their dear ones. Over 2 million Europeans are buried in India. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission takes care of four cemeteries in the east, including the one in Kohima. There are many more cemeteries here like the old Scottish Cemetery which are in a bad shape. “The British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA) has tied up with Computax Consultants to digitise the Bhowanipore Burial Registers”
Recommendations & Suggestions:
In conclusion, Mr. Sidin Vadukut, the stand-in Chairperson summed up the session by appreciating the efforts of these organisations in preserving the culture of the region and urging more people to do the same. He said ”The Internet and digital media have an impact on how artists and culture-makers express themselves, how our cultural heritage is presented and made accessible, how libraries make information accessible to the public, and how the media present the news, public debate and culture”. He, however, also added that there is a difference between preserving and promoting culture, which the current users of digital content have to understand.
Inauguration of ‘ICT Mela Connecting Masses’ (Exhibition)
The Manthan Award South Asia 2009 also saw a two day exhibition where about 55 exhibitors showcased their products and services in various stalls. Elaborating the purpose behind the showcasing, Osama Manzar, the Manthan Award South Asia Chairman says, “Showcasing is also one of the ways to bring good innovations and practices from the remote areas to the wider world and in front of media, that’s why we organize this exhibition per year as another way of encouraging Manthan fraternity apart from the Manthan Award Gala.”
The exhibition saw constant footfalls during both the days. More than 700 people had a look at the various stalls up and enquired from the stall owners about products and services they are showcasing and also about their others activities. So it was a meaningful niche show where the best of ICT4D community converged and had a first hand look on the latest ICT innovative practices and happenings in the sector.
Many private companies also saw this opportunity to showcase their works to a direct and readymade audience and participated in a very enthusiastic manner. Some of the prominent companies to showcase were – NokiaSiemensNetworks, Intel, edurite, nComputing, Oracle, nCode Solutions, besides loads of other names. Many state governments also put up their stalls to showcase what they were doing in IT enablement in their regions in their respective pavilions. Govt. of MP, Govt. of Rajasthan, Govt. of Bihar, Govt. of Odisha were the prominent ones to display at this year’s exhibition named ‘ICT Mela Connecting Masses’. Following are some of the snapshots from this two day ICT Mela.
Using technology to serve the remotest of remote
Hosted by a New Delhi-based not-for-profit organisation called Digital Empowerment Foundation, the 12th Manthan Awards 2015 was organised this year at India Habitat Centre in the national capital on December 2, 2015.
Unlike all previous years when innovators gathered in a formal atmosphere to share slide show presentations with an audience in an all-day event, this year the awards threw the spotlight on the best digital innovations in an ‘un-conference’ style. The afternoon gave participants an opportunity to learn, interact, share, engage and absorb with likeminded development professionals, thought leaders and experts in the field.
e-Business & Financial Inclusion was one of the 13 categories, and the Winners of the category were Dharavi Market, Paytm-One97 Communications Ltd, and Financial Inclusion. E- Bozar, meanwhile, was chosen for the Chairman’s Distinction Award.
Identifying the best solutions
The Finalists of the categories e-Business & Financial Inclusion and e-Science & Technology brainstormed on finding the best possible solutions to help the masses with innovations in these fields.
Finalist Smart eHomes from the e-Science & Technology category participated in discussing the benefits of ICTs in the field to change the benches at the grassroots.
Dharavimarket.com cleared notions and misunderstandings about life in slums — slum dwellers are not criminals or beggars, they too have robust enterprising skills and intimate community life.
Paytm, meanwhile, spoke about its focus on creating a platform where millions of small, medium and large merchants can sell to millions of customers from across the country in a seamless manner.
Taking forward the conversation, Financial Inclusion illustrated how it is engaged in providing banking services to people in villages and urban areas using biometric devices.
Conceptualising for a connected world
The brainstorming session started at the micro level, where the participants discussed their projects and gave insights about the change ICT can bring at the grassroots keeping in mind their projects implementation and, soon after this, the cross cutting discussion between the participants kick-started. The discussion for building a concept initiated from micro to meso to macro level among the participants. The most intriguing thing about this session was that there were participants with a very strong perspective from each verticals business, finance and science technology.
Sijo Joseph from e-Science & Technology category discussed how innovations can bring savings to the village life which would increase the efficiency. He also added that smart cities and villages should improve the quality of life to provide connectivity, and to save cost, manpower and energy. It was a great sight to watch unanimous people conceptualising and analysing their respective ICT-based solutions for a better world and towards building solutions.
Participants quoted assuredly that it is the age of information and communication technology, and the application of ICT tools in various social, economic and administrative fields is on the rise. ICT use and their participation in growth-related activities are strongly linked. For example, businesses that use the Internet to collect sales orders have higher rates of exporting, innovation, and entering new export markets. ICT can enhance both the practical and theoretical aspects in any range.
Ishita Anand and her team from Bitgiving, along with Bidyut from E-Bozar, threw light on topics like innovators, engagement in funding, access to market, certification and sponsorship, among others. The group mentioned that financial inclusion is something that is multi-level and multiple different things should be put together to bring out the innovation in terms of money going to the target audience but, especially, mentioned to make them producers themselves in their own way.
Several suggestions were also made by participants and audience members. These included:
- Establishing broadband or wireless kiosks at different locations
- Encouraging greater digital literacy
- Setting up e-banking kiosks across the country
- Creating easy interfaces for e-banking mobile apps
- Developing special Web content in various Indian languages
- Promoting greater use of ICT tools at all levels
The participants meticulously enjoyed the informal style of the sessions and praised the technique used for discussion.
Making medical help available on the touch of a thumb
On December 2, 2015, the 12th Manthan Awards South Asia & Asia Pacific 2015 was hosted at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, amid much fanfare in a village-themed environment.
Manthan Awards, organised every year by Digital Empowerment Foundation, provides a platform to digital innovators to bridge the future using information communication and technology with change-makers uncovering their exceptionality, creativity and inspiration.
Now in its 12th year, the Manthan Awards was hosted in an ‘un-conference’ style’. Instead of a formal presentation from the stage to an audience seated in an auditorium, innovators were asked to talk about their e-initiatives in a village-themed environment, complete with a well, charpoi, kulhad wali chai, haystacks and bamboo shoots. Amid this set up, Finalists of the 13 awards categories gathered to share lessons, achievements, best practices, challenges and recommendations for the road ahead.
The winners in the eHealth category were TraumaLink Bangladesh Expansion, Run Tropica, and BPL LifePhone+. The first two particularly impressed the Jury.
TraumaLink is a volunteer-based emergency response system built to tackle the barriers of travel time and cost for traffic injury victims. To measure the quality of its service, it currently focuses on a few key metrics including the percentage of accidents responded to, crash scene response times, and volunteer retention rates.
‘Run Tropica’ project commenced by the University of Colombo’s School of Computing aims to develop a prototype product of an active video game virtual rehabilitation system that targets physical therapy of the lower limbs of the user. ‘Run Tropica’ is a 2D infinite runner where the player’s performance is based on their ability to collect items and how far they can run before dying. By implementing gamification into a rehabilitation process, the project looks to improve motivation and persistence among patients.
They were presented with their trophies amid an esteemed audience at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on December 2, 2015.
Creating an informed society
The application of ICT and telemedicine is an excellent idea for remote areas where there is a shortage of health sector manpower, and, thus, integrating ICT in the health care system could contribute to universal health coverage and strengthen the weakened health care delivery system in India.
Over a period of time, politicians, policy makers, academics and many others have discussed the potential role of ICT in influencing the health and well-being of the poor and marginalised sections of the society. Its potential contribution to poverty alleviation, sustainable development and health care enhancement has been pointed out by the UN Millennium Development Goals framework and by many other organisations. Appropriate technology, if used, for health care support and proper information, it can empower health care workers at primary health care units in a cost effective manner for sustainable improvement of health care in remote areas.
ICT is not a readymade fit, particularly when technology is expanding every day. ICT always needs to be contextualised and, above all, needs a commitment to be used. Thus, capacity building and the process of creating an informed society are crucial for its implementation, especially in the health sector.
Some of the recommendations made by the participants for the growth for the benefit of e-Health included:
- Establishing broadband or wireless kiosks at different locations
- Encouraging greater digital literacy among health providers
- Connecting village-level health services with district-level hospitals
We hope those working in the health sector are taking notes!
Easy access to rich recreational content
New-Delhi non-profit organisation Digital Empowerment Foundation organised the annual Manthan Awards this year at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on December 12, 2015.
Manthan Awards is a highly coveted platform where digital innovators, who use ICT for the betterment of the masses, are felicitated in front of an audience of likeminded professionals, innovators, sponsors, government officials and industry experts.
In an effort to usher a change, in its 12th edition this year, Manthan Awards South Asia and Asia Pacific decided to adopt the ‘unconference’ style for its annual event gala and awards.
Amid a village-themed environment at India Habitat Centre, Finalists of 13 awards categories gathered to share lessons, achievements, best practices, challenges and recommendations for the road ahead.
One of these 13 categories was e-Entertainment and Games for which the Jury had shortlisted two Finalists, and both were announced Winners at Awards Gala later in the evening.
The session for the category, earlier in the day, began with a friendly introduction, followed by both the Finalists introducing the audience to their e-initiatives.
Chai Stories is an initiative of the Boxx Studios to give a platform to artists, who are not part of the mainstream entertainment industry, to showcase their talent. Under this initiative, the Boxx Studios release short films every Friday. So far, 55 short movies have been successfully released online with the investment of approximately Rs. 5 lakh.
Sangeethaya.lk is another initiative that aims to preserve, promote and enhance the music culture in Sri Lanka. So far, over 1,000 service providers have registered with them and the website has received around 45,000 likes on its Facebook page. It offers equal opportunity and exposure to all music equipment sellers, instrument exporters, music production companies and video production companies to market their talent and products.
Easy access and rich content
It is interesting to see how access to entertainment has become increasingly wide today. Earlier, people had to commute to watch a film, see a musical performance or witness a comedy/dance show. With the growth of the Internet, all of this became available online at the click of a mouse button. Innovators have now taken a step even further and introduced all kind of recreational material on mobile phones, just a touch away. ICT is ever-expanding and new digital tools are being created on a daily basis today. If we have come so far, imagine what these tech enthusiasts and digital innovators can do in the years to come.
There are several e-initiatives that cater to the rural population, and even allow content over SMS rather than mobile app or Internet connection. However, there are only a handful of them.
- It is time innovators think of ways to produce content in regional languages, make them available even to the poorest of poor in the remotest of remote areas and allow sharing of content.
- Content, in fact, is the most important aspect. The need to create easy access to entertainment content is as important as the selection of the content itself.
Let’s hope innovators are taking notes.
Breaking barriers in mainstream education
For the past 12 years, Digital Empowerment Foundation has been proudly organising the annual Manthan Awards. Every year at Manthan, digital innovations are celebrated and their innovators are honoured amid an esteemed and likeminded audience.
This year, Manthan Awards was held in an unconference style at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on December 2, 2015, without compromising on its agenda of bringing together digital innovators and industry experts on one platform to create a unique fusion of development. Instead of formal presentations, the 57 Finalists came together to share ICT-inspired suggestions and ideas for problem solving in their category area through hand-drawn flip charts, posters and oral skills.
One of the eight sessions, the one on education, was moderated by Meeta Sengupta, a writer, speaker, consultant and advisor on education and skills, and Dr. Suresh Reddy, director of SRF Foundation. The session revolved around the role ICT can play in bringing changes in the fields of education, learning and employment indices in a village. Finalists participating in this category were Madhura, Ofabee, i-Saksham, Zoya Learning Labs, JAAGO Online School, Career Cliniq Smart Tutor, and Swayamsidham Education Portal.
After a brief introduction by the moderator, each Finalist gave the audience an introduction to their work. Some of the unique innovations have been listed below.
i-Saksham provides in-situ education, skill development, and information services in unreached areas through sustainable community learning centers, run by locally skilled youth with the aid of digital technology and content.
OfaBee Tutor, an initiative of Enfin Technologies India Pvt. Ltd., is a cloud-based training and learning platform for test preparation training institutes to create online courses.
MILE Laboratory of the Indian Institute of Science under its project Madhura aims to develop a good quality, natural text to speech programme for South Indian languages to enable and empower people with visual and vocal disability to learn and communicate easily and more effectively.
The goal of JAAGO’s online school project is to overcome geographical barriers that exist in Bangladesh to provide quality education to students living in remote areas.
Zaya’s ClassCloud products and services enable blended learning without the need for connectivity, thus, opening up a type of learning to a mass market of students who were otherwise being left out of education technology altogether.
By the end of the introduction, the excitement to contribute from one’s experience and learn from other’s was overwhelming. The discussion drew the attention of passers-by and made them stop to listen to the discussion.
It was here that the participants and audience mutually agreed on the need to gouge out possible solutions against barriers on the path to change through ICT in the teaching and learning atmosphere at the village level for successful employment.
Outcomes and solutions
The seven Finalists came up with points that can help in scaling up the existing technologies and make them reachable to students at grassroots level. Among some of the solutions was the idea to develop a network of educational NGOs for effective communication, sharing of ideas and helping each other achieve their goals while achieving a common objective.
Looking at the complex interfaces of some of the existing technologies, the participants realised that in order to increase teachers’ participation, interfaces need to be simplified enough to reduce their work pressure against the common perception of “increasing burden”. This point went hand in hand with the topic of language barrier and how making the best quality content available in local language can be useful as learning is always easier in one’s mother tongue.
The outcomes of the session were listed, ranked through voting and video recorded. The enthusiasm of the Finalists led the moderators to give a thought to sending the video to Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani through social media.
Further discussion on ways that can help enhance ICT in education in rural areas was concluded on the thoughts that:
- CSR funding is paramount to all efforts being made in the field of education today
- The potential of ICT can be further harnessed to seek funding
- Both government and non-government organisations should compliment each other’s contribution to education
In today’s age, ICT is an integral part of the mainstream education system. It can help students, teachers and parents, especially in rural parts of the country where rapid growth is much needed.
Indian farmers need a common information platform
Digital Empowerment Foundation organised the 12th Manthan Awards at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on December 2, 2015. In the last 12 years, besides honouring the best digital innovators, Manthan has created a rich repository of over 2,000 digital innovations from across Asia while bringing together young innovators and industry experts on one platform to create a unique fusion of innovation and development.
This year, by adding a little cultural flavour and village-themed ideas to this grand event, the Manthan Awards were held in an un-conference style.
Amid a colorful evening, complete with Rajasthani folk music performance, scintillating table performance and nukkad natak, 57 Finalists sat on moodah and khaat, sipped chai from a kullad and discussed possible solutions to tackle challenges in their respective category.
Collaborating for a better world
The Finalists of eAgriculture and Ecology category — SankalpTaru, Paddy Procurement, Plant Trees Online, e-KrishakSahyogi, AGMARKNET, Horticulture Crop Pests Surveillance — came together and discussed ways to eradicate poor circulation of solution-driven mobile apps in the countr, and gave a brief introduction about their project.
SankalpTaru Foundation aims to develop and manage reforestation and environmental conservation projects across India. IPE Global in partnership with the government of Odisha has launched the Paddy Procurement Automation System, which is designed after studying the functionalities of the paddy procurement centres. Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals or ISAP has developed an applet-based decision support system named e-KrishakSahyogi, which means an ‘electronic companion of the farmers’, to address the problem of inaccessibility of useful and timely information related to pests and diseases for small and marginal farmers.
Tackling the barriers
According to the participants and Senior Manager of Qualcomm Anirban Mukherji, who was also the moderator of the session, the plaguing issue in this field is that though there are several ICT applications available across India to solve problems, language has been a major barrier in the effective and efficient circulation of these applications.
For example, an application developed in Tamil Nadu in the local language is tremendously helping in solving several problems of farmers in the state but the same application is not used by the farmers of Karnataka. To tackle this problem, the participants of this category conceptualised a solution, which is a common platform for all the solution-driven applications, that is available in multiple languages or can be translated in several languages, orally or in written form. This conceptual platform will make information available to everyone, irrespective of their location, language, technology, and platform it was originally developed in. The platform will connect the farmers and expert, and will also contain curated knowledge-sharing content in the form of text, audio and video.
ICT revolution has played a big role in development of agriculture and ecology sector. For solving further problems, concepts conceived by the problem solvers should always be encouraged.
Some of the recommendations made by the participants for the growth for the benefit of e-Health included:
- Establishing broadband or wireless kiosks at different locations
- Encouraging greater digital literacy
- Creating a common platform for sharing knowledge
- Allowing content to be read in or translated into various languages
We hope those working on innovations in the sector are taking notes!
Manthan 2015 – churning the pot of gender disparity
Every year, the Manthan Award recognises and celebrates digital innovators who use ICTs for social empowerment across South Asia. The awards event this year also included an ‘unconference,’ where, instead of prepared presentations, the winners and finalists of the awards categories gathered together to share lessons, achievements, best practices, challenges and recommendations for the road ahead. Here are some takeaways from the brainstorming which I had the opportunity to facilitate, on women and digital empowerment. The winner of this category was FeminismInIndia.com, and special mentions went to UN Women and Project Sampark (Telenor India).
FeminismInIndia.com has published 250 articles on women’s empowerment by 57 writers, and has 2,000 followers on Twitter as well as 15,000 on Facebook. “Many authors have been inspired and committed enough to write with their real names and not anonymously,” said founder Japleen Pasricha.
The United Nations has created a one-stop site for holistic information on women and empowerment. 11,000 users from 190 countries have registered, according to Anju Pande, Program Specialist at UN Women. Content is available in five languages, on topics ranging from workplace issues and entrepreneurship to policy formulation and statistics.
Mobile operator Telenor India has launched an initiative called Sampark, to support women’s access to mobile phones and accounts. “The initiative covers 89 villages, and has roped in over 40,000 new women subscribers,” according to Ashima Kukreja, Head of Social Responsibility at Telenor India.
Their call centre, called DIAL, employs 35 women. Forty women promoters offer handholding skills to bring more women on board the mobile network, via a programme of systematic socialisation. The initiative has been supported by industry lobby GSMA as well.
The discussion at Manthan 2015 included other women entrepreneurs such as Ritu Gorai, founder of Jamm’s, an online support group for mothers. Jamm’s has also offered haircuts for underprivileged children and bought canes for the blind, according to Gorai.
These achievements have not been without their challenges, according to the award-winning women entrepreneurs. The foremost challenge includes the male mindset of bias against women’s rights, denying them the basic rights of ownership of mobile phones or access to telecom services. There are also women apologists for such male power, under the guise of protecting culture and tradition.
Women also need training in the use of the wide range of digital technologies, and more data is needed on the tech adoption, online communication and content creation activities of women. More representation of women is also needed in lofty initiatives such as Digital India.
From an implementation point of view, project practitioners cite that it takes a lot of effort and skill to identify the right kinds of change agents for community empowerment. There are also social media restrictions which hamper the use of imagery about violence against women.
Finally, social media is a double-edged sword, opening the door to empowerment as well as online harassment, stalking, bullying and cyber-crimes against women.
The women activists also shared a range of best practices which work well towards digital empowerment. Social media campaigns via Tweetathons and Twitterchats can be very effective. Branding, effective imagery and the choice of champions (‘sheroes’) have helped amplify the messaging.
Offline techniques like street plays and other interventions have carried the cause to wider audiences. Involving men and boys have shown how they can also contribute to solutions. Communication campaigns have worked better when they are focused and not too broad, with specific outcomes and implications in mind. Partnership with other organisations, such as youth communities, has helped connect with other audiences.
Good examples of such empowerment initiatives include Graam Vaani (with programmes such as ‘Do you think Rani should go to school?’), Safety Pin (safety app for women) and Khabar Leheria (village news about women).
The brainstorming session ended with a specific set of recommendations for the development community, policymakers, corporates and aspiring social entrepreneurs. At the highest levels, all major corporate and national policies need to have gender sensitivity and inclusion embedded in them, and not tackled as an afterthought.
Regular monitoring, accounting and enforcing of gender inclusion in these initiatives need to be carried out in a systematic and transparent manner. Better data on women in tech needs to be gathered and disseminated.
At an industry level, more cooperation is called for between the hardware, software and telecom sectors. At a deeper level, more involvement and enrolment of women are needed in STEM education. At the rural level, more women need to be involved and trained as heads of community service centres.
Decision flows in urban and rural organisations and community networks should be clearly mapped, so that gender roles can be identified and allotted in an equitable manner. Women should be regarded not just as consumers or users of digital media but as content creators and tool developers as well.
Finally, such forums should extend beyond the usual ‘Delhi circuit’ to the far corners and remote areas of India, and the outcomes of such deliberations should be made available in local languages as well.
These recommendations were displayed and presented at the Manthan 2015 conference, and the winners were acknowledged and honoured at the awards ceremony. We look forward to the implementation of such recommendations on a priority basis, and to tracking the progress made by the next Manthan Awards in 2016!
Manthan Award South Asia 2009 – Grand Jury held at New Delhi, INDIA
After almost 6 months of hectic activities related to seeking and getting nominations, (380 to be exact), the Manthan Award South Asia Grand Jury ’09 was held at New Delhi, INDIA during October 08 to 10, 2009.
When the 20 member Manthan Award Grand Jury ’09 entered the boardroom for choosing or de-selecting the best of these 360 nominations received under 13 various categories (Check http://manthanaward.org) (20 odd were already eliminated on various grounds during the internal scrutiny process), the place was abuzz with excitement and anticipation as for the past last few weeks, DEF’s office phones hardly stopped ringing from enquiries from many nominees in the past few weeks. The Jurors, many of them were also part of previous year’s Grand Jury too, were seen visibly excited not to speak of many fresh faces, part of the judging process for the very first time who were justifiably eager and curious.
The Chairman of the Manthan Award and Founder & Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), Osama Manzar duly welcomed all the Grand Jurors and apprised them to the tasks during the 3 day intense process ahead. “It demands your full attention,” he cautioned the debutants especially.
Everybody introduced themselves as their first duty and having become familiarized, (the Grand Jurors are selected randomly from different walks of life every year, mind you), they were divided into 9 sets of 2 people each and were given a combined total of 40 nominations plus attachments, if any, to look into in the next day and a half.
The Jurors started their evaluation process in right earnest and soon they were ‘lost’ into the nominations. All the Jurors were browsing their sets fast and also checking the veracity of any web linkages that might have provided with, either given as part of the form or through any offline material that might have been provided to the Secretariat. Also, noting down their expert opinions on each of them in the Online box in the software they were given by DEF for future reference and possible group discussion points. This process went on till next day (09 Oct ’09) mid afternoon.
Post lunch, the Grand Jurors started discussing the top ranked nominations from each category and, yes, voting for this year’s Manthan Winners. The Chairman took his stage in the well of the Board Room and started listing the top nominations on a chart sheet per category with every juror giving his verdict on the nomination just seen and putting every issue for other Jurors to throw light upon with the Chairman moderating the intense and often witty discussions. It made for some very intense and lively at the same time light hearted insights for those who were inside the board room. It was learning and pure fun.
The process went on and on and each category taking hours of debating and voting for Winners and Special Mentions.
The enthusiasm of the Grand Jurors, both older ones and the new ones alike, was a joy to behold.
Anyway, when 5 categories were done with, it was already late night and everybody thought to come back afresh next morning.
Pronto at 9 am, the Grand Jurors started arriving and the process restarted amid a light working breakfast thrown in between the continuing debate and voting to ensure continuity and to maintain the flow of activities.
By 4 pm, all the categories were done with and altogether 45 Winners including Special Mentions came out of this day and a half yearly churning. By this hour, the Chief Guest and honorary Juror, Mr. N. Ravi Shankar from the Government of India, Department of Technology also joined and he gave all the Grand Jurors a small momento of the Manthan Award symbol of 2 horns of a cow along with a Citation for their honorary work in the past 3 days.
Thereafter, the DEF backend staff were introduced and given thanks by the Jurors and the Chairman. A photo session after, it was time for all the Jurors to re-assemble for a Special Photo Session which everybody enjoying having competed an ordeal of 3 days taking time of their busy schedules, with each one of them taking time off from their day-to-day routine life. They had pride in their eyes and one could see the satisfaction of having done a momentous work by all of them. All exchanged emails and cards etc for further contacts and interactions.
Already people were looking forward to coming together next year round, with or without the same partners.
So, all the Winners are in the bag. The bag itself will be opened during the 2 day Digital Inclusion Summit & Gala on Dec 18 & 19 ’09 at New Delhi itself. All the Jurors will be there to see the organizations and persons they have chosen as Best practitioners. An elaborate Summit is also planned along with the Gala.
Osama Manzar is a physics graduate and post graduate diploma in Journalism. He was awarded a joint Chevening/Young Indian IT Professional Programme 2002 Scholarship by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to study Advanced IT Management Programme at Manchester Business School, University of Manchester during 2001-2002. He is a social entrepreneur spearheading the mission to overcome the information barrier between India’s rural sector, and the so-called developed society, through Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF). In 2003 he launched India’s first ever award for choosing the best e-content practices in India and South Asia. He is the Chairman of the Manthan Award for Best e-Content for Development and Moderator of the Jury for Manthan Award. He is e-Content Expert for India for World Summit Award (WSA), Grand Jury Member and member of Board of Directors In addition; to it Mr Manzar is Jury Anchor for the Dataquest e-Gov Champion Award, and for Bahrain e-Content Award and Sri Lanka eContent Award. Recently he has also been appointed as a Member: Task Force on Growth of IT, ITES & Electronics HW Manufacturing Industry, DIT, India. He has authored titles like: “e-Content: Voices from the Ground” “Internet Economy of India”; “India’s Best e-Contents”, and “Development & Digital Inclusion”. He is also Publisher & Editor: d-Content [enabling development through digital content] He has also been involved in the last 15 years in various level of research work, including resulted in publications/Reports like:
- Educational Technology in India – 2005
- Development & Digital Inclusion – Cases from South Asia
- ICT in Education Toolkit
- Several others
Dr. Madanmohan Rao graduated from the Indian Institute ofTechnology at Bombay and completed his advanced studies from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is M.S. in computer science and a Ph.D. in communications.
He works as a consultant and author from Bangalore, in knowledge management and new media. He was formerly the Communications Director at the United Nations Inter Press Service bureau in New York, and vice president at IndiaWorld Communications in Bombay. He is the Research Projects Director of Mobile Monday and co-founder of the Bangalore K-Community. He is editor-at-large of Destination KM, world music editor for Rave magazine, RJ for world music at WorldSpace Radio.
He. is a frequent speaker on the international conference circuit, and has giventalks and lectures in over 60 countries around the world. He is the editor of three book series The Asia Pacific Internet Handbook, The Knowledge Management Chronicles, and AfricaDotEdu. Madan is adjunct faculty at the International School of Information Management in Mysore and India and the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Bangalore.
Ms. Shalini Kala has an advanced degree in Economics. She worked on issues for Agricultural Policy Reform in India for her M.Phil. dissertation. She has 20 years of professional experience in the field of rural development, particularly in the areas of food and agriculture focusing on knowledge networking, livelihoods and capacity building both in India and the Asia-Pacific region. Most recently, Ms. Kala was at the World Food Programme (WFP) where she worked on design, testing and advocacy of innovative approaches for food aid as a tool of development. She was also associated with National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and later worked on USAID projects.
Ashis Sanyal has a Master of Technology degree in Microwave Communications Engineering from Calcutta University. He was a recipient of UNDP Fellowship at National Institute of Standardization & Technology, Boulder (USA) in 1991 and also undergone Chief Information Officer Training in e-Governance in Korea in July 2003.
He commenced his career as an Engineer in Ministry of Communications through Indian Engineering Services in 1975. Currently he is working as a Senior Director at Department of Information and Technology. Mr. Sanyal has published more than 45 technical papers in various areas of Electronics, Communication Engineering, System Design and e-Governance activities in National & International journals; participated in International Conferences and Workshops.
Sidin Vadukut is an engineer from NIT Trichy and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. In an eclectic career spanning seven years Sidin has worked in manufacturing, management consulting, retail and journalism. He has written articles and columns for several magazines, newspaper and websites. Currently he is the managing editor of Livemint.com, the online avatar of Mint, India’s second most widely read business daily newspaper. In his current position Sidin is largely busy with trying to make sense of that murky area where media meets electronic delivery platforms. How do you deliver content quickly and efficiently? How do you monetize this content? How do media organizations leverage current and future technological concepts? He is nowhere close to solving those problems.
Sandeep Bhargava has done MBA, PGD (Sales & Marketing) & BE (Electronics & Electrical Communication). Currently he is Head-Corporate Affairs (APAC Region) Nokia Siemens Networks India Private Limited.
He has over 25 years of versatile and all round experience in Sales, Business Development, Key Account Management, Commercial and Contractual Negotiations, Strategic Planning, Relationship Management with the bureaucracy and politico-legal system, Government tendering and procurement. He has also managed sales, operations and other Aspects of the GSM, Information Technology, Networking & Satellite Communication, Electronics & Instrumentation, Computer Peripherals, Components and Services sectors.
His Past experience includes working with World Space-Head Enterprise Sales, Hughes Escorts Communications Limited as Director-Federal Networking Group.
Dr. Prateep V. Philip Currently, Inspector General of Police in Tamil Nadu . He has completed his doctorate in management, his MA in International Relations and BA in humanities He pioneered the internationally acclaimed Friends of Police Movement. He was district chief of police of four districts, Commissioner of Police in two cities besides being DIG Intelligence and DIG , Tirunelveli Range. He is the author of a book and several articles in leading journals. He won the inaugural British Gurukul Scholarship for Excellence and Leadership in 1997 and completed a course on globalization at the London School of Economics. He also won the inaugural prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation in Police Training and Development in 2002. He has also created the concepts and techniques of Equilibrium Thinking and taught it to millions of people from all walks of life through an audio CD, website and through workshops. He is also pioneering a new global discipline called Excenomics. His websites are www.prateepphilip.com, www.friendsofpolice.com and www.eqthinking.com
Chaitnya Kalbag is a journalist, writer, columnist, editor and manager. His most recent assignment in a 35-year career was Publishing Director for LexisNexis Butterworths, the world’s largest legal publisher. Kalbag returned to India in 2006 after more than 23 years with Reuters, the global news organization. For a year he was Editor in Chief of Hindustan Times, India’s second-largest English newspaper. He was responsible for reinforcing professional standards and embedding strong standards of accountability and balance into local and national reportage.
Kalbag’s Reuters career spanned several countries. The first Asian to head Asia news operations, his six-year tenure as Managing Editor and Head of Editorial Operations, based in Singapore, included some of the biggest world stories of the past half-century. As Asia Editor, he was responsible for all the news from across the continent as well as the recruitment, safety and security, and career development of nearly 750 journalists in 33 bureaus in 22 countries stretching from Afghanistan to New Zealand.
Kalbag joined Reuters in 1983 as a correspondent in New Delhi. He moved to Manila in 1987 and in 1988 became a Chief Sub-editor on the Hong Kong economic desk. In 1991 he moved to Tokyo and in 1993 he was appointed Editor, News Production, Japan. His next post as Editor, News Production Asia was based in Hong Kong. There he was responsible for the quality of all text news output from Asia including output from all editing desks.
In 1997 he became Bureau Chief, India – the first Indian to hold this post — where he was responsible for all text, television and pictures coverage from India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Kalbag then exited journalism briefly to take on a senior business management post in Reuters. He became Managing Director, Reuters India Limited and Manager South Asia, based in Mumbai. In this role he was the senior Reuters company official for all eight South Asian countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, responsible for £ 20 million of business and an array of financial-sector clients.
Prior to joining Reuters, Kalbag worked in Bombay for a small Indian newspaper, then went on to edit and produce Transindia, a monthly newsmagazine for Indians living in the United States. He moved to New Delhi in 1978, and held senior writing positions at two magazines — New Delhi and India Today.
He won the Rajika Kripalani Young Journalist Award in 1977, the Sanskriti Award for Journalism for 1982, and the India Today-PUCL Human Rights Reporting Award in 1983 for his investigations of fake encounters in Uttar Pradesh and the insurgencies in Northeast India. He was included in An Anthology of Bombay Poetry, 1977. An accomplished public speaker, he also won the Bharat Shiromani Award in 2007. His most recent writings are on his blog http://chaitanyakalbag.blogspot.com.
Dr Subho Ray obtained his PhD in history from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Currently he is working as the president of Internet & Mobile Association India (IAMAI). In his current role, has been instrumental in some crucial steps for the development of the digital industry. The main among these are instituting an accreditation process for interactive agencies, a credit recovery process for online publishers, organizing and getting recognition for the mobile value added services industry and for opening up the pre-paid instruments industry. Under Mr Subho Ray’s leadership, IAMAI has also been recognized as the leader in all Internet and mobile value added services research in India. IAMAI has grown seven-fold in terms of membership and has been at the forefront of the advocacy for ecommerce, online advertisement, ICT for SMEs, internet penetration and an equitable business regime for mobile value added services industry.
Before joining IAMAI, Subho was director for the ICT vertical at the Confederation of Indian Industry (India’s largest industry body) in New Delhi where he worked since 1998 with a 2 year stint at the Confederation’s London office.
He has published his first academic book in 2002 “Transformation on the Bengal Frontier” with RoutlegeCurzon and co-authored “Building India with Partnership: The History of CII” which was published by Penguin India in 2006.
He is also a trained historian having read history at Presidency College, Kolkata, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Dr. Anjali Kaushik is a PhD in area of Information Systems, an MBA and an Engineer. She has been with Management Development Institute (MDI) over the last three years and is associated with teaching, research and consulting in the ICT domain. She has almost 14 years consolidated experience in the area of ICT Business consulting and Research across corporate and academics. Prior to joining academics, she was heading the vertical research group in IDC (India) Limited. Her areas of research and consulting are E-governance, Enterprise Resource Planning and Business Process Re-engineering. With in e-governance her focus is on process reforms and innovation. She was a consultant to DAR&PG for evaluation of National e-governance awards in 2008-09 and has been entrusted with the assignment again this year in 2009.
Ashish Garg is a gold medallist in English Hons with a national scholarship award and a degree in Education are her basic qualifications. She also holds a post -graduate diploma in Human resource management. She is an educationist by profession, has more than ten years experience in Education with specific expertise in the ICT4E domain. In her current role she is working as the Asia Regional Coordinator, at GeSCI .
In the past she has also worked with she worked with World Links as the India head of the World Bank supported World Links program in India. She has also worked with Intel, Schoolnet and Times of India.
She launched Program on Integration of ICT in Education for Schools, impacting teacher training methodologies in more than a hundred schools across several states in the country. She has also developed strategic programs for incorporating community development mechanisms within the school space in rural underserved communities and migrant urban communities, assisting the govt to set up School based Community Technology Learning Centres. She has hands on experience in planning, implementation and management of effective Educational and ICT structures in schools within urban, semi urban and rural communities in India for youth and women/ girl child in formal and non-formal social structures. She has also set up community development projects focusing on the provision of sustainable entrepreneurial livelihood mechanisms for women and youth. Solid skills in building partnerships with government, public, private, civil society organizations and multinational donor community.
V K Madhavan has interests include agriculture and rural livelihoods, education, community based institutions, the rural development sector and international politics – in which Madhavan received his Masters from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
In his current role he works as an Executive Director, Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (Chirag). In the past he has worked with Urmul Trust and its affiliates for 8 years. Later, he also worked with worked on policy advocacy with ActionAid, consulted independently and spent a little over three years working on the issue of women and governance with The Hunger Project.Madhavan is a founder and Trustee of the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Association, the only institution to offer certification for genuine craft products in the country (www.craftmark.org) and a Trustee of The Action Northeast Trust (The ANT), an organization that works amidst largely tribal communities in Assam. Madhavan is also a founder and member of the executive committee of Non-Pesticide Management.
Prof. Vijaya Kumar holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Ceylon and a D.Phil from the University of Oxford.
In his current role he is working as a Professor Emeritus from the University of Peradeniya and is presently the Chairman, Industrial Technology Institute Sri Lanka. He is also serving as the Chairman of UN Commission on Science & Technology for Development UNCSTD and as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Information Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka. He has held several very senior positions which include the position of Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya and Member Member, UN Millennium Development Project Task Force 10 on Science, Technology and Innovation. In addition he has served as a Board Member of numerous organization and has refreed 70 International Journals, 01 internationally published Patent and 131 Communications to Learned Societies (Local and Foreign). His key research interest are in Insect Chemical Ecology; Biopesticides; Science Policy; Intellectual Property Rights; Biological chemistry; Natural Products Chemistry.
Saloni Malhotra is an engineer from the University of Pune, Saloni Malhotra currently spearheads DesiCrew which she founded with Dr.Jhunjhunwala at TeNeT group, IIT Madras in Jan 2005. She started her career in an interactive media start up, Web Chutney in Delhi. Saloni’s work with DesiCrew has been featured in leading newspapers and magazines across the globe such as BusinessWeek, BusinessToday, The Economic Times, Fast Company, The Hindu, etc. She has been nominated for BusinessWeek’s Asia’s Youngest Entrepreneurs, MTV Youth Icon 2008, E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 and also facilitated in the presence of the President of India by the CII. Saloni is the founder of DesiCrew and handles Marketing and overall direction of the organization.
Rajen Varada has completed his graduation in arts with specialization in computer graphics. He has over 15 years of experience in the social development sector, to which he brings a mix of technology awareness and practical applications for rural and urban marginalized communities.
Rajen Varada is currently the resource person and moderator for the United Nations Solution Exchange ICTD community. Mr. Varada has earlier been the project manager in United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) Hyderabad. His work in UNICEF has been widely acknowledged and has won the national Manthan award in 2005 and international World summit award in e-health for the development of an ICT package for health called “Sisu Samrakshak”.
Rajen Varada is the founding director of Technology for the People (TFTP), a Non governmental organisation in South India that works towards providing livelihood options for deprived communities by upgrading traditional skills to match modern market requirements.
- He serves as an advisor member on the Board of Directors of:
- Technology For the People (TFTP), NGO working in AP & Karnataka
- Second Byte, a not for profit company which deals with e waste management and refurbished computers
- Star features “My school” magazine – which publishes school magazines for rural schools.
- Digital Empowerment Foundation – Delhi, Promotes the national awards for e content
- North East Development Foundation – Foundation aimed at development of north eastern states.
- Technology for Development
Shubhendu Parth has completed his graduation in arts from Patna University and did his diploma in Journalism from Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan Diploma. He also holds a diploma degree in dramatics.
In his current role he is working as the Executive Director & Founder Editor, iGovernment.in and Editor, IT Next. Other positions held by him in the past includes: Director Blue Slate Media, Director–Content & e-Gov at Digital Empowerment Foundation, Executive Editor, Dataquest.
He has also been conferred Polestar Award for Excellence in IT journalism for year 2000 and was awarded Kala Shree by NSUI (Bihar) for contribution to Art and Culture in 1991.
Meera Shenoy is Executive Director of Employment Generation & Marketing Mission(EGMM) of the rural development department, Government of AP. She helped build the Mission from scratch to become one of the largest global mission for providing jobs to the underprivileged rural and tribal youth. To date EGMM has trained 250,000 youth and linked 70% to entry level private sector jobs. She works with the World Bank in Bihar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the Youth and employment sector. Her previous work experience was media, print and television, and the corporate sector.
S N Goswami is currently the Chairman & Managing Director of Media Lab Asia, a Govt. of India through the Ministry of Communications & IT, India. Media Lab Asia is into core R&D in the domain of ICT for Development. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Goswami was heading West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation.
Ms. Lekha Kumar is Presently Commissioner, Income Tax, Department of Revenue in Ministry of Finance. Prior to this she held the position of Senior Director, Department of Administrative Reforms, Govt. of India. Ms. Kumar held key responsibilities including holding the responsibility of national coordinator of India Gov portal. She was also instrumental in holding national level e-Gov Conference to address key national e-Gov challenges in a public-private partnership mode.
N Ravi Shanker, IAS is currently Joint Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Govt. of India. He is heading the the core areas of e-Infrastructure and e-Learning overseeing key projects across India. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Ravi Shanker was Principal Secretary IT in Govt. of Uttarakhand.
Manthan Award South Asia 2009 in Media
Manthan Award South Asia 2009 proved to be a long event and it got coverages in various media in the run up to the main event and after that the winners got wide media space. Some of the samples of it is displayed here below. Have a look.
Manthan Awardees figured prominently in one of the discussions recently on NDTV’s popular Money Mantra programme. The Pankaj Pachauri anchored show also had Mr. Shankar Aggarwal, Joint Secretary in DIT, GoI, DEF’s Founder & Director, Osama Manzar and Manging Editor of Livemint.com, Sidin Vadukut on the discussion panel. The panelist and the Manthan Awardees discussed at length how digital media is changing the face of India and how digital content innovators are bringing about a shashaktikaran (empowerment) of rural India. See the full programme by clicking the image below.
Press Release New Delhi, India – December 16, 2009
Uniting communities with 3G
Nokia Siemens Networks partners with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to promote digital inclusion
Nokia Siemens Networks has joined hands with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to promote digital inclusion during the forthcoming 2009 edition of the Manthan Award South Asia, to be held from Dec 18-19, 2009 in New Delhi. The event, organized by DEF, is South Asia’s largest on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for commerce, governance and rural development.
As part of the partnership, the Manthan Award will include a dedicated three-hour joint session on Uniting Communities with 3G, under the broader Manthan theme of Digital Inclusion for Development. The session will focus on the affordability and convenience of the mobile devices, networks and services that are playing a crucial role in bringing the Internet to a wider audience, both in urban and rural areas across the world.
“This partnership reflects a common understanding by both us and DEF on the importance and challenges of digital inclusion for overall industry development,” said Urs Pennanen, head of the Indian region at Nokia Siemens Networks. “Affordable access to communications technology encourages social inclusion and contributes to progress in a range of social economic and environmental issues.”
The introduction of 3G-enabled mobile services will provide affordable Internet access in rural areas of India and other South Asian countries. This will more than make up for low personal computer penetration in these areas and help bridge the digital divide.
“By joining hands with Nokia Siemens Networks, we hope to strengthen what could prove to be the single biggest step towards socio-economic transformation in India and South Asia,” said Osama Manzar, founder and director, Digital Empowerment Foundation. “The possibilities are endless – 3G will positively impact many areas, including health services, education, agriculture and governance.
The Manthan Award is a first-of-its-kind initiative in India to recognize the best practices in e-content and creativity. It was launched on 10th October 2004, by Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with World Summit Award, the Indian Department of Information Technology, and various other stakeholders such as civil society members, the media and other similar organizations engaged in promoting digital content inclusiveness for development throughout South Asia. This year, the award will be given under thirteen categories ranging from e-business and commerce, e-education, e-governance to m-content.
About Digital Empowerment Foundation
Digital Empowerment Foundation, a Delhi based not-for-profit organization was registered in December 2002, under the “Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860” to find solutions to bridge the digital divide. With no political affiliations, it was founded by Osama Manzar to uplift the downtrodden and to create economic and commercial viability using Information Communication and Technology as means. It was actively started in the year 2003 after the founder director left his software company to seriously pursue the aims and objectives of Digital Empowerment Foundation. www.defindia.net
About Nokia Siemens Networks
Nokia Siemens Networks is a leading global enabler of telecommunications services. With its focus on innovation and sustainability, the company provides a complete portfolio of mobile, fixed and converged network technology, as well as professional services including consultancy and systems integration, deployment, maintenance and managed services. It is one of the largest telecommunications hardware, software and professional services companies in the world. Operating in 150 countries, its headquarters are in Espoo, Finland. www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com Engage in conversation about Nokia Siemens Networks’ aim to reinvent the connected world at http://unite.nokiasiemensnetworks.comand talk about its news at http://blogs.nokiasiemensnetworks.com Find out if your country is exploiting the full potential of connectivity at http://connectivityscorecard.org
Nokia Siemens Networks
Phone: +91 98114 51254
Phone: +91 11 26532786
Nokia Siemens Networks >
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FI-02022 Nokia Siemens Networks
Press Release New Delhi, Dec 19, 2009
New Delhi based Digital Empowerment Foundation in association with Nokia Siemens Networks and Department of Information Technology, Govt. of India organised two days South Asia Conclave on ‘Digital Inclusion for Development’, Dec 18-19, 2009 at NCUI Complex, August Kranti Marg, New Delhi within the larger framework of the Manthan Award South Asia on best digital innovations and applications for development. The South Asia conclave culminated in the 2009 edition of the Manthan Award South Asia felicitation of winners in 13 categories of digital innovations.
The Manthan Award events annually (since 2003-04) are dedicated towards innovations and applications in the field of Information Communication Technology & digital applications towards solving key development and governance challenges till the last mile (www.manthanaward.org). The two days programme witnessed participation from 15 States and UTs and 6 countries from South Asia representing with various digital innovations and applications.
The Award evening preceded the two day multi-sectoral digital round tables, Plenary sessions, deliberations at South Asia level on – e-Education, Learning & Human Resource Development; e-Commerce & Livelihood; Mobile for Masses, Social Inclusion and Localisation, Last Mile Service Delivery through e-Governance; IDRC India Social Science Research Panel Discussion & Award Gala 2009.
The Guest of Honours during the two days conclave included- the Union Minister of State for Communications & IT, India , Mr. Sachin Pilot ( chief guest during the Award gala evening on Dec 19, 2009), S. R. Rao, Additional Secretary, DIT, India, Nazrul Islam Khan, Additional Secretary and PS to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Prof Anil Gupta, IIM Ahmedabad & Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation, Ms. Iskra Panevska, Communication & Information Adviser for South Asia, UNESCO, Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, IIT Madras & Lead – TeNet Group, Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman, IT&ITES, CII, Mohd Haleem Khan, Director General, CAPART – India, R. Sukumar, Editor, MINT, Mr. Wasantha Deshapriya, Director, ICTA, Sri Lanka, and Mr. Sandeep Girotra, Head of Sales, Nokia Siemens Networks. Other Guest of Honours included – Dr. Stephen J. McGurk, Ph.D., Regional Director, International Development Research Centre, Regional Office for South Asia and China, New Delhi, Mr. Subhash C Khuntia, IAS, Joint Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, MHRD, Gov. of India , Mr. Ashish Chowdhary, Global Head – Services and Member of Executive Board, Nokia Siemens Networks, Mr. Urs Pennanen, India Head, Nokia Siemens Networks, Mr. Sandeep Aurora, Director – Sales & Marketing, Intel Corporation – South Asia , Dr. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Managing Trustee & Research Director, India Development Foundation, Mr. N. Ravi Shanker, IAS, CEO – NIXI, Joint Secretary, DIT, Ministry of Comm. & IT, Gov of India, Mr. Wasantha Deshapriya – Director, ICTA, Sri Lanka, Mr. R. Sukumar, Editor, MINT, Mr. Nazrul Islam Khan, Additional Secretary & PS to Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Mr. Sanjiv Mital, CEO, NISG, Mr. Ajay Choudhury, Chairman & CEO, HCL.
FYI, the Manthan Award (www.manthanaward.org) is about scouting out best Information Communication Technology enabled digital innovations and applications having substantive impact in the lives of communities and citizens spread across 13 categories – including e-education, e-learning, e-governance, community broadcasting and m-content (mobile content). Since 2003-04, the Manthan Award platform have been putting maximum efforts to undertake a digital journey in reaching out to best digital innovations and now this search has reached to South Asia level since 2008.
Find all articles in the TECH TOOLS series appeared in mint by Osama Manzar in the run up to the Manthan Award South Asia 2009
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