Grand Jury 2015

The Manthan Awards South Asia & Asia Pacific 2015 Grand Jury was successfully held on 14th & 15th October, 2015, at The Hillfort Kesroli-Neemrana Hotels, Rajasthan, India.

Jury collage.cdr

The Jury marked the final stage of selection of best practices for the 12th edition of the renowned Manthan Awards South Asia and Asia Pacific. This year we received 412 nominations across 13 categories out of which,343 were valid nominations. The virtual Jury members managed to filter 343 valid entries to 165 for the final evaluation by the Grand Jury. A panel of 16 Jury members looked into the filtered nominations.

The discussions of the selected nominations and the voting on each category began and the jury managed to cover 6 categories on the first day. On Day 2, the remaining 7 categories were discussed. The collective knowledge of all the jurors let to a powerful discussion on each and every nomination. After the discussion and joint voting system, the Grand Jury selected Winners and Special Mentions of Manthan Awards 2015. The Grand Jury conclusion marked the moments of felicitation of the Jury members with Jury citation & token gifts presented to all Jury members for their invaluable volunteering efforts in adding value to the Awards process.

Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation (Moderator, Manthan Awards Grand Jury 2015)

OsamaOsama Manzar is a convert social entrepreneur spearheading the mission to overcome information barrier between India’s rural sector and the so-called developed society through Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) – the not-for-profit organization founded to accomplish the mission. He is a Member of the Working Group of Internet Governance Forum of the Ministry of Communication & IT and was a Member of Task Force on Growth of IT, ITES & Electronics HW Manufacturing Industry, Ministry of Comm & IT, India.

Meet the Jurors 

Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma – Board Director, ICT Agency of Sri Lanka

ajithDr Madurapperuma pursued a degree in computer engineering at the Polytechnic José Antonio Echeverría and thereafter obtained a PhD in computer science from the University of Wales, Cardiff. He was a senior lecturer at the University of Colombo, UCSC, and served as a consultant to ICTA in the early stages of planning the e-Sri Lanka Development Project. A former Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology of the University of Moratuwa, he took a sabbatical and worked as Deputy Director of the Interactive and Digital Media Institute of the National University of Singapore. Dr. Ajith Madurapperuma has nearly 30 years of experience working in the education domain and has been a key designer of distance education programmes at the Universities of Colombo and Moratuwa. He is currently attached to the Open University of Sri Lanka.

Manoj Kumar Singh, Chief of Regulatory Affairs & Sustainability, Indus Towers Limited

manojManoj Kumar Singh is currently the Chief of Regulatory Affairs and Sustainability at Indus Towers Limited. He has been holding this position since August 2008 and is responsible for Energy Business modelling and Green Telecom. He is also the head of the Energy Committee of TAIPA (Towers & Infrastructure Providers Association).

Previously, Singh has held the positions of Director – Projects at Ginni Global Ltd., Associate Vice-President – Power at SRF Limited, and General Manager – Engineering at Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Ltd.

Singh received his B.E. in Electrical Engineering from MMMEC at Gorakhpur. His skills include procurement, product and business Development, product Management and planning, contract management, negotiation, operations management, programme Management, project and team management, telecommunications and vendor management.

Soumya Sarkar, National Editor, Mint          

soumya sarkarSoumya Sarkar is the News Editor of Mint, a sister publication of the Hindustan Times published in partnership with the Wall Street Journal. He has been working in Media and Communications for over two decades and was previously with The Times of India, The Indian Express Group, the Telegraph and the Down to Earth magazine. He has also worked as development and communications consultant with organisations like the World Bank and the Aga Khan Development Network. Besides working in the areas of environment, rural livelihoods, energy and water resources, Soumya is keenly interested in science and technology issues.


Puneet Aggarwal, GM-Digital Health Care, Cloud Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited

puneetPuneet Aggarwal heads Product Management for Digital Health care – Cloud group at Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. In his current role, he has been incepting, conceptualising and delivering innovative technology platforms to enable smart health care for India.

Puneet has been on the entrepreneurial sojourn since 2008. He has founded and successfully run two technology start-ups in India in the field of Connected World, Smart Cities and Internet of Things. In his start-ups he has developed and deployed various smart energy management & smart water management solutions within India and abroad. Prior to that, he worked in the United States for a couple of years with Motorola Inc, Chicago. Puneet holds a degree in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, US, and is a rank holder from the University of Pune.

Sowmya Kidambi, Director, Society for Social Audit, Accountability and Transparency (SSAAT), Department of Rural Development, Government of Telangana

soumya kidambiSowmya Kidambi currently works as the Director of the Society for Social Audits, Accountability and Transparency (SSAAT), Department of Rural Development, Government of Telangana. She is also holding the charge of Director for the SSAAT – Andhra Pradesh. Sowmya holds a Masters degree in Social Work (Urban and Rural Community Development) from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. She also holds a Diploma from Columbia University, New York, in Human Rights.

She has been working with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) based in Rajasthan, since 1998.  The MKSS has played an important role in the formulation and passage of the Right to Information (RTI, 2005) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA, 2005) Acts in India. While Sowmya continues to be a member of the MKSS she has been working on an assignment as Social Development Specialist since April 2006 with the Strategies and Performance Innovations Unit, Department of Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh (India), to institutionalise the Social Audit process as part of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and is now the Director of the SSAAT setup in 2009.

Sowmya has also been working with the International Budget Partnership, Washington DC as Trainer/Technical Assistance Provider since October 2008. She is responsible for conducting training courses on expenditure tracking with special emphasis on social audits. She has also trained groups in countries like Kenya to social audit the constituency development fund and in South Africa to audit the janitorial and sanitation services.

Neerja Singh, Group Executive Vice President, YES BANK

neerjaNeerja Singh is the Group Executive Vice President, Responsible Banking, YES BANK. Neerja leads the sustainable development projects of the Responsible Banking in North and East regions in addition to YES COMMUNITY, Natural Capital Initiative and Sustainability Research.

Neerja has 18 years of diverse industry experience on strategy and end-to-end project planning/implementation within the development sector in CII and FICCI. She has been instrumental in re-structuring the “FICCI-Socio Economic Development Foundation” and commenced the “Swachch Bharat” initiative by charting the roadmap for industry traction on sanitation projects. In the past she has undertaken relief and rehabilitation work at several occasions, including after the Gujarat earthquake and the J&K floods. She has also been a successful entrepreneur to and started IT consulting firm in the US and went on to manage it for over eight years.

Rajen Varada, CEO, Open Knowledge Community

rajenRajen Varada is an ICT practitioner since 1995 and continues to be actively engaged in designing and implementing proof of concept solutions for rural development using technology and, in particular, ICT. He has developed solutions for health and early childhood care (Sisu Samrakshak UNICEF), Disaster (SMS4help – Solution Exchange), District e-Governance: (Parishkaram & Samadhan – Govt of AP & West Bengal) and most recently ‘Labnet’ a migrant labour tracking and services portal. He is actively involved for the past nine years in study, evaluation and mentoring of ICT innovations which impact the social sector. Rajen has been one of the brains behind movements like public sector software in India and has actively supported community ownership of technology – from community radio, community TV to open source applications.

Amitabh Singhal, Director, Telxess Consulting Services (Pvt) Ltd., Board Member – Public Interest Registry

amitabhAmitabh Singhal is aBoard Member of PIR.ORG. He was Founder and former President of Internet Service Providers Association of India, which was in continuation of its predecessor, the Email Service Providers Association. He has many feathers in his hat for various policy and regulatory achievements, including, amongst others, helping the government to write key elements of the ISP policy, opening up the Internet for private competition that led them to set up international gateways and become dominant bandwidth owners, and opening up of Internet Telephony, among others.


Daniel Lobo, Director and Country Head, Leaders’ Quest

danielDaniel leads the Mumbai office and designs Quests in India, Africa and China. Passionate about conscious leadership in organisations and the systemic impact that businesses can have on the world, he joined Leaders’Quest in 2011 to design a programme for 500 global partners of a consulting firm. Daniel is a trained as an engineer and started his career at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed software for global clients in the insurance and satellite television sectors, and managed key client relationships. With a passion to effect change, he joined Teach For India, which places full-time teachers in under-resourced schools in tough communities. Daniel taught a large classroom (61 kids) in a slum for two years and is part of a nationwide movement to end educational inequity in India. He enjoys travelling, theatre and adventure sports, and is a decent guitarist. He is currently exploring the core of spirituality and learning from different religions.

Zafar H. Anjum, Co-Founder,, Director, Kitaab International Pte Ltd.

zafarZafar Anjum is a Singapore-based journalist, writer and entrepreneur. For eight years, he was the online editor of Computerworld Singapore, Computerworld Malaysia, CIO Asia and MIS Asia. He is the author of six fiction and non-fiction titles, including the best-selling ‘The Resurgence of Satyam’ (Random House India, 2012), and ‘Startup Capitals: Discovering the Global Hotspots of Innovation’ (Random House India, December 2014). He is the director of a publishing startup,, and co-founder of


Meeta Sengupta, Founder, Centre for Education Strategy

meetaMeeta is a writer, advisor and speaker on topics of Education and Skills. She works to build bridges between policy, research and practice by creating platforms for sharing. She writes a number of columns and blogs (including in the Times of India, The Daily Pioneer, Forbes, etc.) where she shares ideas and solutions with the education community. Meeta Sengupta is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar.


Hempal Shrestha, Practitioner, ICT For Education and Social Development

hempalFor past 15 years, Hempal Shrestha has served many national and international organisations in various capacities in the social, educational, private and government sectors. His core competencies are in the fields of Information and communication technology (ICT) capacity building, knowledge sharing and knowledge management. In the course of his career, he led the Open Development Programme in the Asia region for Bellanet International Secretariat.


Dr. Bobby John, Managing Director, Aequitas Consulting Pvt. Ltd.

bobbyDr. Bobby John happily engaged in leading and growing a team of motivated individuals to create innovative approaches to shaping health and development policies and practice core strengths. The main areas such as: understanding and shaping public policy for health & development, policy change advocacy and communications, partnership and coalition building for policy change, strategy for public policy development, financing for health & development evaluation of innovations & technologies for improving health and development board room dynamics (with experience at international, national and grassroots levels (multi-lateral, not for profit and corporate entities). These early stage work areas set the foundation for – Primary medical care -management of primary and secondary level hospitals and Management of not for profit public health interventions.

Amarendra Srivastava, Senior Consultant & General Manager, Digital Empowerment Foundation

AmarAmarendra Srivastava has a comprehensive experience spanning across 22 years across a wide spectrum of domains. He helps organisations through strategy reviews, process transformation and technology implementations. His areas of expertise include business planning, strategy & execution, human resources (hiring, talent management, performance management), learning & development, operational excellence and project management. He has designed and delivered training programmes in different areas including personal effectiveness, presentation skills, Sales & marketing, project management, coaching & mentoring skills and many more. He has also conceptualized and implemented a ‘Change Management Framework’ for organisational transformation, designed the ‘Co-Creation’ workshop model which is at the heart of ‘Coaching Skills’ workshops and other Organisational development programmes. He has contributed to various Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs), larger organisations like American Express and Infosys and software technology based non-profits like Digital Empowerment Foundation, Liberty Institute (EmpoweringIndia.Org) and LetzChange.Org. He is quite active on Social Media and can be reached at @amarsrivastava on Twitter.

Rajesh Verma, Former Secretary, Information Technology, Government of Sikkim                              

rajesh vermaRajesh Verma was Principal Director, Information Technology with the Government of Sikkim. He is a keen photographer and has extensively travelled and trekked in this area, photographing, researching and documenting all along. He has been mostly residing in Sikkim since birth. Rajesh has also authored books on Ham Radio and Computers. His articles and photographs on travel have appeared in many publications and inflight magazines. Besides being associated with developing website on Sikkim, he has also produced two interactive CD-ROMs titled ‘Sikkim – A Land Beyond the Far Horizon’ and ‘Rhododendrons of the Sikkim Himalayas’.