2nd eNGO Summit
Digital Inclusion of NGOs
The 2nd eNGO Summit, organized on the occasion of Manthan Award Digital Festival, witnessed the participation of more than 100 NGOs participation. The Summit focused on showcasing the best of NGOs from across Asia and highlighting how ICT has empowered them to be efficient, transparent and beneficial to their communities.
The session was chaired by Dr. Govind, CEO – National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and moderated by Mr. Amitabh Singhal, Director – Telxess Consulting Services (Pvt.) Ltd & Board Member at Public Interest registry.
- The main objective of the session is to help maximize adoption of Internet and related tools for empowerment of Grassroots organizations.
- Use of ICT tools and Internet to expand the reach of NGOs
- How NGOs can build and leverage Internet presence
Chairperson: Dr. Govind, CEO, National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)
Moderator: Amitabh Singhal, Director, Telxess Consulting Services (Pvt.) Ltd & Board Member, Public Interest Registry
- Brain Cute, CEO, Public Interest Registry
- Rita Soni, CEO, NASSCOM
- Rajen Varada, Director, Technology for the People
- Umesh Anand, Publisher, Civil Society
- Ali Asghar, Developmental Consultan
Mr. Singhal opened the session by giving a brief introduction about the eNGO workshops that they have been executing over the past one and a half years and how they have covered various Asian as well as African NGOs. He pointed out that almost 90-95 percent of the NGOs in India suffer from acute shortage of digital infrastructure i.e. computers and Internetaccess and this is not only due to the lack of funds but also due to the prevalent mindset. People usually believe that going online, creating website and running it is a very costly. Mr. Singhal added that their organization is now focused at digitally enabling and empowering the NGOs across the country. He further added that as far funding is concerned, NGOs receive funding only when they are able to show concrete results. Many NGOs are doing a phenomenal job at the grass root levels, but since they are not able to communicate these results, they usually are deprived of funding. This problem can be solved by creating a website to a large extent. It is almost equal to opening a stall to demonstrate your products or rather an exhibition to showcase your artwork. Not only funding but inputs, suggestions and encouragement which will come through internet is just fantastic. Mr. Singhal requested the participants of the eNGO challenge to share their experience in terms of benefits or limitations that they discovered while using the tools of ICT.
First participant to share was from the Women’s Organization for Socio-Cultural Awareness. She added that for the past one year they have been working for tracking the development of variousschemes of Govt. including pension, PDS and national employment guarantee act etc. Volunteers are being trained to use mobile software and they are capable to track the services from their delivery point itself, i.e. the Panchayat and Govt. officials. With the help of this real time tracking of services, as many as 3500+ people have had their names registered in the BPL list and are now availing the benefits of PDS. Almost 3000 pension holders who were left out from the scheme originally are now availing the benefits of the scheme. Though initially they faced some problems, they are now leveraging the benefits of various schemes to the poorest of the poor society.
Mr. Amitabh invited representative(s) from Consumer Voice to share their experience. The spokesperson from the organization explained as to how it was an organization aimed at empowering consumers. It is an endeavor of Delhi University faculties and judicial luminaries. They are involved into three major tasks: information to consumers, for which they run a monthly magazine called consumer voice. Secondly they are involved in testing the products in the light of claims that they make. This is carried out with the help from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Lastly they are involved in advocating the formation of rules and regulation thatare consumer centric. They are being assisted by various service providers and govt. offices. As far as using ICT is concerned, they have started doing webinars for counseling and creating awarenessaboutconsumerrights. Also their magazine is now available in electronic from and also they use SMS in a big way. The results of tests conducted by them are being transferred to the consumers via SMS and also relevant advice can be received via SMS.
The next organization to share its experience was Rural Education and Development India.The representative added that they run community libraries and resource centres. They work with the local rural communities, set up centres and help them use information technology for their own development. This is proving very useful as not only can local communities use these sources but also they have their respective websites and Facebook pages. They also inbuilt multi media centres which help people learn technological tools and use them effectively. Empowering People, another organization, shared that they are functional in 7 states of the country and they are basically trying to address the issue of human trafficking and other social crimes. They run online courses in order to aware people about this crimes and how to combat them. Aggrieved people can send in their complaints on their websites. Those who can’t write mails can send voicemails to the website.
A little later, Mr. Pradeep Mahapatra from the Udyama Society of Orissa shared his views. He added that their organization operates alongside the coastal areas of Orissa and is committed towards the protection of livelihood of the local fishermen. Also they work for creating awareness about the disaster management techniques. These issues are very central to the life of fishermen who go into the deep seas. Using ICT, Udyama has connected these people to the fish market. This is done through sending them live market price on SMS. Also they are being informed about the tide conditions in the sea by weather department.
Child RAISE Trust, an organization working towards the children with special needs, was the following organization to send their representative to share their experience. They believe in the philosophy of RAISE: R for rehabilitation, A for awareness, I for information, E for education and S for support for special needs children. Their first endeavor is set up a website which gives information about various disabilities in very simplified terms. It has sections for special education and sheltered workshops. Recently they have started disability helpline which is toll free. Caller can get any required info on such disabilities that too free.
Next speaker was from Grameen Jan Kalyan Parishad, Mr. Maqbool. He shared that he has been operating this organization since 1985 and works for educating farmers about the best practices in farming. He has now digitized his office branches and also they now do various workshops with the help of projectors. He was followed by spokesperson of the organization Disha.
The following organization to share its experience was Slum Soccer, which uses development in sports as a medium of social change. They train soccer to children from underprivileged backgrounds in order to elevate their lives. The main ICT tool that they use is website which they use in a very effective way. It contains proper demonstration of their work and possible as well as current volunteers and investors regularly interact on the website. They regularly use tools like Skype to train their volunteers and participants.
Following Slum Soccer, Prof. Deepak from Vidyadeep Foundation, Satara shared their that they seek to create awareness about entrepreneurship for which they run interactive courses supported with multi-media content. Also online conferencing is done for the participants. They have also created numerous android applications which make the learning of concepts very easy. Also they run an online platform in their local language which is called Career Ved which offers career counseling.
Mr. Amitabh also invited Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan to share their experience. Their spokesperson, Manoj familiarized everybody as how their journey with ICT started during the earthquake in Gujarat. During that horrible event, countless villages collapsed. Though a lot of relief material was pouring from all over the world, they were unable to track which village required what material. Inspired with these events, they in partnership with TCS have now developed and collected data on household as well as village level from almost 480 villages in the region. They have also set up as many as 70 internet kiosks in the region to which are known as My Mitra centres to promote digital literacy. These centres also help in providing more interactive ways of education, trade facilities for artisans and also help villagers to file online petitions on a variety of issues. They are now working on several other partnerships and are helping organizations in other states also to get such advanced services for their respective states.
Later, Mr. Vijay Bhaskar from We Change You shared their views. His organization works for controlling tobacco and alcoholic activities by doing awareness programs in schools and colleges. In terms of ICT tools, they use 2D and 3D videos and animations to teach children. They also seek to create huge awareness with the help of Facebook among the youth. After 2 more organizations, the session moved towards the panelists for their views.
Mr. Govind (Co-Chair) appreciated the efforts of the NGOs present and told that .ngo is going to be a revolutionary move for the NGOs across the world. He then invited Mr. Ali Asghar, Developmental Consultant, to share his views. Mr. Asghar initiated his address by saying that usually technology has only one meaning for grass root level NGOs; expenditure. Why he mentions grass root NGOs is because in every village, city and state there are such organizations that are doing their best for the community. He concluded his address & demonstrated an example as to how the eNGO program is slowly breaking this myth.
Next panelist to share her views was Ms. Rita Soni from NASSCOM. She thanked everyone for their valuable contribution in sharing the best ICT practices for NGOs. She was delighted on hearing the name of NASSCOM couple of time from the audience. Her organization firmly believes that technology has a great potential to do good. She assured audience that organizations like NASSCOM and DEF are always here to support them and to help them achieve the best they can.
Mr. Govind then requested Mr. Rajen Varda to share his views & feedback for he participants. Mr. Varda shared that he was delighted indeed to see all the good work that is taking place in the country. He feels that all the organizations present there should start collaborating with each other as it was crucial for their collective success. He concluded by saying that we have made a beginning move and now its up to us only to take it much ahead.
The penultimate speaker for the session was Mr. Brian Cute from Public Internet Registry. He echoed the thoughts of Mr. Rajen and said that being online and making constant efforts to seize the moment was very necessary. If the NGOs remain online for more and more time, they will get many more opportunities to collaborate with different organizations to carry on the good work and in fact move way ahead than just having a website. Mr. Brian then gave example of Wikipedia to demonstrate the power of nonprofit collaboration. He also gave an example from the days of tsunami when a bunch of people from West America got together, formed a website with an intention of raising funds and were able to do so in real good time and manner. When people are online, the possibility of things happening which no one has ever expected is very high.
The session was concluded with Mr. Umesh Anand’s (Publisher – Civil Society) views. He profoundly said that the strength of technology lies in innovation. He said that whenever his magazines cover the stories of such innovative use of technology, their readers feel amazed as well as empowered. The giant leap we have taken in terms of education and awareness using these technologies is just amazing.