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 (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.

Be posted to for all the details and related issues. by Pritam Sinha(

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, 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, and

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

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 ( 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.

  1. He serves as an advisor member on the Board of Directors of:
  2. Technology For the People (TFTP), NGO working in AP & Karnataka
  3. Second Byte, a not for profit company which deals with e waste management and refurbished computers
  4. Star features “My school” magazine – which publishes school magazines for rural schools.
  5. Digital Empowerment Foundation – Delhi, Promotes the national awards for e content
  6. North East Development Foundation – Foundation aimed at development of north eastern states.
  7. 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, 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.

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