National Digital Literacy Mission Summit

About the Summit

Formed as an industry social initiative and partners in the civil society, the National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM), initiated in 2012-13, is a small step in the right direction. With a vision of ‘every household a digitally literate household’, and mission to make one person in each household literate, the mission on ground through the ‘Follow the Fibre’ (FTF) programme, seeks to create examples of learning and lesson from community experience and need in digital literacy. The Summit was the first kind of its effort towards showcasing NDLM achievements and how this programme can be taken forward.  The Summit shared learning, challenges, issues and experiences on digital literacy.

Summit Objectives

  • Showcased hands-on experiences from digitally literate adults from three (3) identified pilot village panchayats under NOFN plan;
  • To build a strong case & compelling advocacy for maximizing adoption of wireless technologies for rural empowerment and enable delivery of content and services to reach masses;
  • Using digital Panchayats to facilitate deployment of rural citizen services delivery through digital means;
  • To link digital literacy and ICT skills including network and bandwidth with new opportunities for economic and social empowerment;
  • Roadmap to generate social, cultural and economic advantages for every Panchayat with a two way information and content gateway.

Summit Proceedings

The summit was formed in a discussion-oriented format sharing the case studies around wireless network deployment and operations in India. The objective of the Summit is to develop a mechanism for achieving the vision of the Ministry of Telecom on making the country digitally literacy by 2020. The Summit was chaired by Dr. Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary, DeitY, Government of India and moderated by Mr. Osama Manzar, Founder & Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF)

Chair & Keynote Address: Dr. Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary, DietY (Department of Electronics & Information Technology), GoI
Moderator: Osama Manzar, Founder Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF)


  • Dilip Chenoy, CEO & MD, National Skill Development. Corporation (NSDC)
  • Sandeep Aurora, Director – Marketing and Market Development – Intel South Asia
  • Rita Soni, CEO, NASSCOM
  • Dr. Sheela Taori, Educationist &  Chairperson of LEARNINGMANTRA
  • Manmohan Singh Thandi, Patron, Computer Shiksha
  • R. Viswanathan, Chief Learning Officer, Avaikalam Solutions
  • Chintan Raj, PM Fellow, Ministry of Rural Development, GOI
Moderator,Mr. Osama Manzar : initiated the Summit laying out the agenda of NDLM programme that in 2011, the Government of India approved setting up of the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) to provide connectivity to all the 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats in the country. As part of the NOFN roll out, fiber was to reach three villages, Arain in Rajasthan, Muthyalammapalem in Andhra Pradesh and Panisagar in Tripura during 2012. The National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) decided to ‘Follow the Fiber’, which means that digital literacy would be imparted to the citizen of the villages receiving true broadband and empowering them with ICT skills to leverage the best use of the connectivity and technology made available to them. Thus, NDLM programme was initiated by Intel with a support from industry stakeholders such as Intel and NASSCOM and non-profit organistions such as DEF and NASSCOM Foundation to identify 1 person per household and make them digitally literate.
With the objective how to take this initiative forward, Mr. Manzar raised a question with Dr. Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary, DietY what is the mission of the government in making the country digitally literate by 2020.
Dr. Ajay Kumar : initiated the discussion how Akshaya programme of Kerala State IT mission has conceived the landmark of making one member from 65,00,000 households digitally literate. Akshaya was state’s first district-wide e-literacy project. And to achieve this, the state government has adopted the most dynamic interventions in public-private-partnerships in the State. The government also mandated computer literacy in each schools of the state.
Dr. Kumar recommended to change the definition of digital literacy – that has to defined as per need i.e., farmer need to be trained on how to receive agriculture information and various government schemes on computer to make his livelihood better. He emphasized to achieve this objective; there is a need to have collaborative approach among NGOs, government, academia, private stakeholders, and individuals. At last, Dr. Ajay recommend that CSCs (Common Service Centres) can play an active role in making the country digitally literate as there are 90,000 CSCs across the country that can strengthen and improved further for achieving this goal.
Taking the experiences from ground, Mr. Manzar asked to share experiences from ground.
Mr. Rajesh Kumar Verma, Giridih Jharkhand :who is running CIRC (Community Information Resource Centre) shared that students in rural areas of Jharkhan have basic education, but there is no digital literacy, thus, there is need to bring holistic approach that can also help in improving their livelihoods instead of just giving them computer knowledge.
Ralngamring Ranglong Halam : trainer of Nangoan NDLM centre shared before the launch of NDLM programme, computer knowledge was very minimal in the region, but now, presently 80%-90% people are using computer education for their daily activities, including their job. Though this programme has increased digital literacy, there is also need to integrate with livelihoods of citizens.
Sanjay Sahni, RTI Activist, Ratnauli, Muzaffarpur, Bihar :shared that computer literacy is not only important for youth but also for everyone, including MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) people who can check the status of their salaries online. Prior opening of CIRC centre in Ratnauli, it was confusing to check the salaries of laborers working under NREGA programme, but now they can avail information on their salaries from the centre itself. The centre is providing digital literacy programme to 75 students and also maintaining job cards for MGNREGA workers. This way, transparency and accountability at village level has been improved.
Muzzaffar Ansari, local tourist guide, stated that Chanderi : has over 300 monuments and nobody was aware about it. Chanderiyaan centre, equipped with 5 computers, has not only empowered local handloom weavers but also promoted tourism in Chanderi.
While Sharing how Chanderi has been now transformed as tourist hotspot.
Priyamwada Singh, Commcare Asha – Rajasthan :shared her organization is providing English and ICT skills for livelihoods through District Knowledge Centre (DKC) that is contributing towards the mission. The centre is presently is educating 49 adolescent girls in a duration of one month. On the same note, Anganwadi (frontline) workers and Asha workers are also willing to learn computers.
In a reply to such experiences, Dr. Ajay Kumar added that courses provided by local University and other educational institutes can provide such courses free of cost to those students who are living rural areas.
Dilip Chenoy, CEO & MD, NSDC :mentioned that NDLM approach as a grassroots movement is aligned with NSDC movement – as NDSC has mission to train 150 million people by 2022, however, trainers themselves are lacking training skills. Thus, it is important to have action-based plan to be executed. If NSDC will make 150 million people digitally literate, then the impact will be huge, however, the question will be to make 150 million jobs available for trained people. Forecasting NDSC’s plan, Mr. Chenoy emphasized to have action-based model, so that skill builder trainers, training to the trainers can be done. This approach should be multi-lingual, have capability to do voice-to-text, course recording in different languages. The Planning Commission of India has database of 50,000 NGOs – and these NGOs can be used for digital literacy programmes at national level. Moreover, digital literacy should be aligned with national initiatives such as election voting machines should have name of parties instead of symbol. This will encourage voters to be digitally literate. Industry should make digital literacy as mandate programme of their CSR activity. At last, Mr. Chenoy recommended having standard content which could be certified by agencies like NASSCOM, NIELET, and other governmental agencies.
Sandeep Aurora, Director – Marketing and Market Development – Intel South Asia : initiated the discussion stating – Knowledge sharing is the key of development, for which community radio stations can play an active role for outreach. These stations should have audio files of content that can be broadcasted within communities and consequently the participation will also increase. Talking about Intel’s support towards this initiative, Intel has collaborated with organizations like DEF, NASSCOM and providing its digital literacy courses to approx. 13000 centre and utilized internet for virtual training programmes. Moreover, this year, Intel is also launching mobile app in various languages for providing literacy through mobile phones.
Vivek Sharma, Programme Director, Gandhi Fellowship Program, Kaivalya Education Foundation :initiated the discussion how youth fellowship programmes can help students to be digitally literate. The Fellowship is a programme for those who are prepared to go on a journey of inner and outer transformation. This is a platform where the best young minds, deal with the problems of the times that are worth solving. The Fellowship challenges fellows over the course of a two year residential program to work with primary school headmasters to transform their schools.  Thus, 5 government school head masters are assisted by the fellows to improve the quality of education in schools.
Giving an example of Nagor village, tablets were given to group of 700-800 people to explore the internet usage. In result, panchayats were digitized, District Magistrate was able to recognize and promote the education within the region. Thus, such kind of examples can be replicated in other states and then later on it can be rolled out in the entire country.
Ms. Rita Soni, CEO, NASSCOM commended all the members from the panchayat across the country for their accomplishments in the field of digital literacy. She suggested 3 points to improve upon it. Firstly she said that Digital Literacy is bound to happen, with or without the corporates. Secondly, after having created such awareness we need to devise ways in which we can leverage this knowledge. Lastly she said that being able to use the judge mental aspect while using the internet was very crucial.
At last, Chintan Raj, PM Fellow at the Ministry of Rural Development emphasized that there is need to make it realize that digital education is part of livelihood and life. This realization can be attained soon when the educational programmes can spread in a uniform way with exponential escalation. He also recommended to have wider outreach model to spread out such awareness programmes, covering mostly rural regions of the country.

  • Connectivity and technology reach along with devices will be futile if the push for locally relevant and created content and solutions are not augmented and promoted.
  • Involvement of local content and service providers must be provisioned and promoted to provide digital solutions and services for the local community clientele.
  • The PPP model of partnership must be accelerated and strengthened in such national endeavours such as digital literacy mission towards a formal national plan and action. The strengths in content, solutions, resource mobilization, training, affordable technology and devices as emerges from such partnership model needs more experimentation on ground in this literacy drive. An additional component of this partnership mechanism is the need to propagate and adopt the Public Private Civil Society (PPCS) partnerships due to the enormous community and implementation strength of civil society agencies.
  • Digital literacy is the need of the hour. There is urgency to adopt a sustained campaign, advocacy, plans, and implementation of digital literacy drive right from the Panchayat level, Block, District, State to the National level. Role of the stakeholders can be allocated based on this distribution of literacy tasks and goals. Role of grassroots agencies and institutions like the government schools, community organisations, common services centres (CSCs) can be chalked out and allocated to sustain digital literacy drives.
  • The last mile access and connectivity still remains a great development challenges in rural India as observed in the 3 FTF training locations. The NOFN is a noble initiative but it needs to be expedited and further decentralised to reach out to the unreached. Industry partners must be engaged to play a pivotal role along with government agencies such as Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF) to expedite connectivity and access. The more the delay, the greater opportunities missed out for the millions of those living on the edge.


Digital Empowerment Foundation
Digital Empowerment Foundation, a Delhi based not-for-profit organization was registered on 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.
Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products, and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Founded in 1968 to build semiconductor memory products, Intel introduced the world’s first microprocessor in 1971. The mission is to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth.

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