Manthan Award 2006
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Manthan-AIF Award 2006 Grand Jury Process
Date: 1-2 July, 2006
Venue: Digital Empowerment Foundation, Sarvapriya Vihar, New Delhi-16
The Manthan Award 2006 jury is over. Around 250 nominations were screened, winners chosen and results are kept in secret wrap until August 5, 2006 when the Award giving ceremony shall take place in New Delhi.
Jury members from different parts of the country were invited to screen and pick up the winners. Experts in different walks of life, these members assembled together at the Head Office of Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi in Sarvapriya Vihar, near IIT, New Delhi. The jury process started at 11 A.M. on 1st July.
Mr. Osama Manzar, Chairman, Manthan Award, briefed the jury members about the jury process before the actual jury sat down for the tedious work.
TheThe Manthan-AIF Award Nomination 2006
The response for call of nominations for the Manthan-AIF Award this year has been overwhelming and over 250 nominations were received from all over India for the fourteen categories defined by the Manthan-AIF Award 2006.
The fourteen categories are:
E-Inclusion & Livelihood
Manthan-AIF Grand Jury
The Manthan-AIF Award 2006 Grand Jury took place in DEF office at Sarvapriya Vihar, New Delhi on July 1st & 2nd. It brought together 16 experts from all kind of relevant field, such as academia, media, industry, associations, civil society, and technology. The jury had been independent, non-political and only followed the rules and guidelines set out by the Manthan-AIF Award. All selection and award decisions were made by the jury were taken as final and was not necessitated to be challenged legally or in any other way.
All nominated products were evaluated in a two-round judging process, and subsequently, India’s Best e-Contents and Applications (3 products/nominations in each of the 14 categories) were selected. Around 5 further products (Best Products) were awarded with a special mention. The decision for the jury process has been made by the Manthan-AIF Award Board of Directors, which is inline with World
Summit Award jury processes.
Jury and Selection Process
The Manthan-AIF Award jury was composed of most eminent content Industry personalities, proposed from government, industry database of evaluators, such as academia, media, industry, associations, civil society, and technology. The final jurors have been selected by the Board of Directors of the Manthan-AIF Award.
In all total 15 jury members assembled together for the Manthan Award screening and selection process. The members list consisted of the following:
Prof. Ashok Jhunjunwala: He is a professor from IIT, Chennai and is well known for his pioneering lead in various tasks carried out by n-Logue Communications Ltd in India providing alternative ICT options for grassroots development. He was the Chairman for the 1st day of Manthan-AIF Grand Jury Process.
Prof Anil Gupta: He is a professor at IIM, Ahmedabad and is associated with Sristi, an NGO as well as with National Innovation Foundation as a Vice-Chairman. He was the Chairman for the 2nd day of Manthan-AIF Grand Jury Process.
Mr. Tanmoy Chakrabarty: He is the Vice President & Head- Global Government Industry Group, Tata Consultancy Services, New Delhi.
Ms. Mridula Chandra: She is the Secretary, Health Research & Development Centre, Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Mr. Frederick Noronho: He is a well known free lancer journalist based in Goa. He is the pioneer in running so many group email services including bytesforall.
Mr. Jerry Almeida: He is leading a confederation of NGOs call iCONGO (Indian Confederation of NGOs).
Ms. Rufina Fernandes: She is associated with Nasscom Foundation and is stationed at Mumbai.
Mr. Ravi Gulati: He is running an organasition call Manzil, working for street and slum children in Delhi.
Dr. Subho Ray: He is the President of Internet & Mobile Association of India.
Mr. Ravi Gupta: He is the Director of Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
Mr. V. K. Dharmadhikari: He is scientist with Department of IT, Government of India.
Mr. Reuben Samuels: He is associated with WHO, India and is based in New Delhi
Mr. Subhendu Parth: He is the senior Assistant Editor of Dataquest, Gurgaon.
Mr. Mr. Rajan Varada: He is associated with Unicef, Hyderabad and heads an organisation call TFTP.
Mr. Hareesh S Belawadi: He is the Joint Director, ASCENT, Bangalore.
Representing the e-Governance Division, Department of Information Technology, Government of India was Mr. Ashish Sanyal, Director, e-Governance. Mr. Sanyal was the observer along with Mr. J. Sundarakrishnan, Regional Head, Digital Equalizer, AIF, New Delhi.
It was Prof. Jhunjunwala who chaired the first day jury meet and Prof. Anil Gupta chaired the second day meet. The chairs helped in making the process start and complete in time without any hassle.
The jury acted independently from the organizers and convenors and all vested interests, and followed only the guidelines for participation published in advance for the Award. All selection and award decisions made by the jury were final. The selections of the winners were made by the jury. The jury was given full freedom to choose not to give an award in any given category.
Jury Location and Evaluators Briefing
The jury meetings and all evaluation took place in New Delhi on July 1st and 2nd 2006, at the office of Digital Empowerment Foundation, where suitable technical infrastructure and high speed online access for each of the evaluators were made available.
A comprehensive official instruction of the jury regarding the call for entries, the entire evaluation process, the Award rules and the rules governing the jury evaluation based on the documents approved by the Manthan-AIF Award Board and this Jury Evaluation Guide was made available.
Elaboration of the categories of the Award and the criteria were given and explained during the briefing of evaluators by the moderator Mr. Osama Manzar, Chairman, Manthan Award. The criteria were tied to the concept of value added for users and e-contents for a purpose.
1. CONTENT: Quality and comprehensiveness of content
2. INTERFACE: Ease of use: functionality, navigation and orientation;
3. Value added through MM; Attractiveness of design
4. STRENGTH OF IDEA & EXECUTION: Value of the idea and how effectively it has been executed
5. IMPACT: Impact on the targeted audience
6. TECHNICAL REALIZATION: Quality of craftsmanship & Creativity
7. Strategic importance for the global development of the Information Society
8. Accessibility according to the W3C ( www.w3.org)
Switching the category of the product
The jury was given the right to switch a product from one category to another if the category chosen by the producer is recognized as unsuitable. Even during the evaluation process product category were switched in the e-learning and education ones. That category switch was the result of a discussion followed by a vote amongst the panel members.
The Mathan-AIF Jury Process
The Jury was divided into panels, each panel with 2/3 jurors;
The products were divided into groups, according to the product categories.
Outcome: A Shortlist of maximum of 6 products per category (based mainly on the rank list of technical score)
Panel Presentations of the Top 6 per category, made by the panels to the entire Jury. Discussion and voting on the winner per category by the plenary were taken up.
Outcome: A Winners List of 3 nominations per category.
Panel Presentations and discussion on the best products from each category based mainly on the rank list from the second round) and also those who would have gone to third round but did not made it to the final list were picked up as special mentions.
Outcome: A list of special mentions – best products from each of the 5 national regions, one/two/3 per category depending upon the consensus from the jurors were made.
The Actual Jury Process:
On the first day jury members went through the nominations for screening. Members were divided into groups to go through the 14 categories of Manthan-AIF Award. Seven groups were made to go through the 14 categories. Members had a tough task to curtail down nominations to a minimum few in each category for voting purposes. On July 2nd the actual process of presentation of views of members on the nominations chosen for voting took place.
Each group were asked to present their cases for selecting their respective nominations for the voting purposes. Once this was over, the actual voting took place. It took good 7-8 hours for the voting process to be over. Power point presentations were made to present the cases for notable nominations in each category.
And finally the winners were clear by evening. Except in few categories, every category was chosen with three respective winners. Interestingly, a good decision has been taken to felicitate community radio activities in India from this year onwards.
Differences cropped in on number of key issues like whether some special mention could be made for some exemplary nominations. Finally the voting option helped to sort out the issues.
Views of the Jurors
Dr Reuben Samuel
“It was very interesting experience for me. I found that it was good to recognize those who have started something innovative.”
“It was a whole diverse set of content in all these categories, just the fact that I’m here with such fantastic group of intellectuals, strong people in the field has been a very good experience for me.”
“I feel that there is a lot of scope of grassroot level people to come forward. It is a very good opportunity for the people who have never been acknowledged can become visible. Last year I was the privileged one to win the award in the e-Health Category.”
“The process has been very democratic, lot of arguments, heated discussions but ultimately I think when the results come out, it should represent pretty much the cream.”
“I truly believe that content is the crucial part and element to the success of any grassroot information dissemination. I intend to take some of these award winning content to be deployed by the NASSCOM Foundation. We have made a beginning with last year’s award winning entry called Sisu Samarakshak by UNICEF & converted into Marathi and now deploying it in our centers in Maharashtra, we will do the same in other languages.”
Prof. Anil Gupta
“There was lot of stress on the impact that most people were making use of the technology and in a few cases the creativity or the originality of the thought was very much appreciated.”
“The process of the jury for the last 2 days was extremely robust, there was a lot of discussion & debate, some times it got very heated but the chairpersons were very powerful & were able to maintain peace.”
“People from all walks of life, experiences, are together to make a statement. I found it very interesting to get view points from many different people.”
“I was exposed to fantastic work being done in this school of e-Content base in the country.”
“I found this an interesting exercise, I was involved with the e-Education & e-Localisation track. We came across a lot of interesting projects.”
The Manthan-AIF Award 2006 Jury
Chairman Of Jury (day 1)
Prof. Ashok Jhunjunwala
Professor, IIT Madras, Chennai
Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala is from IIT Madras, and very well known for his innovative ideas in the areas of telecom revolution. He is also an incubator of many successful ideas. He helped in founding n-Logue, the company which started as the rural ISP and expanded into Common Service Centers based in rural areas.
Chairman Of Jury (day 2)
Prof. Anil Gupta
Professor, IIMAhmedabad &
Executive Vice Chairman, NIF,
Prof Gupta is from IIM Ahmedabad. He is Executive Chairman of National Innovation Foundation. He also founded and runs organisations like Sristi, HoneyBee, and GIAN. Prof Gupta is a proponent of Social Entrepreneurship and leaves no stone unturned in globalizing the local innovations, especially coming from the villages of India. He has traveled more than 2,500 kilometers to find local innovation across the rural villages of India.
Chairman, Manthan Award &
Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation
Osama is the Chairman of the Manthan Award and Director of Digital Empowerment Foundation, the organiser of Manthan Award. He is also on the board of World Summit Award, the International affiliate of Manthan Award and DEF. He has written three books so far on e-Content and Internet Economy. He enjoys putting all possible effort in making the local content reach out to global audience – the Manthan Award is formed to achieve that purpose among others
Director E-Gov, DIT
Mr. Sanyal is Director, E-Governance Programme Management Unit (EGPMU), Department of Information Technology, M/o Communications & Information Technology. He is a great proponent of spreading knowledge without inhibition, and has been putting great efforts in making the CSC (Common Service Centers) project of DIT to achieve its best objectives and goals.
Observer cum Co-Moderator
Head, ICT Division,
AIF, New Delhi
Mr. Sundar Krishnan is the Head of ICT division of American India Foundation. He has earlier worked with Media Lab Asia.
Members of The Grand Jury
Frederick Noronha is a Goa-based independent journalist, co-founder of BytesForAll & active chronicler of ICT4D initiatives in India. He is also founder of indialists.org (a network of alternative mailing lists) and www.goa-india.org(creating space for alternative voices from Goa), and for the past decade he has been a member of the Admin Volunteer Team of Goanet (www.goanet.org), Goa’s oldest and largest mailing list.
Manufactures Association of Information Technology,
Vinnie Mehta has been involved in the promotion and polices formulation pertinent to the IT industry with the Centre and the State Governments in India as also internationally since 1992. He delivers lectures on industry strategy with reputed management institutes. He also conducts training programs and seminars for the IT industry. Prior to MAIT, Vinnie has worked for 2 years on the SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) with the Gas Authority of India Limited.
VP & Head of the
Tanmoy Chakrabarty is the Vice President & Head of the Global Government Industry Group at TCS – Tata Consultancy Services, based in New Delhi. He is responsible for Sales and Business Development for TCS for the Government Industry worldwide. He has over 22 years of Sales & Marketing and Business Development. He is a member of the IT Sub-Committee at CII.
Dr Subho Ray
Internet and Mobile Association of India,
President, Internet and Mobile Association of India(IMAI). As the President, Subho heads the permanent secretariat of the association and is currently responsible for driving & delivering several turnkey objectives to change mindsets and working towards a mission of “100 million Internet users online” + “robust e-economy growth” from the Indian – citizen/consumer, business, and government point of view/perspective.
Bharti, New Delhi
After 15 years in radio, and a brief stint in the Prasar Bharati secretariat, Venniyoor moved to Doordarshan, where he presently works in their community TV (‘Narrowcasting’) division, as well as Doordarshan’s DTH project, ‘DD Direct’.
Editor – i4D Magazine
Ravi Gupta represents Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), an NGO founded in 1997. His organisation has been involved in ICT4D issues. He is the editor of i4d (www.i4donline.net), eGov (www.egovonline.net) and Digital Learning (www.digitalLEARNING.in) magazines. He can be contacted at Ravi.Gupta@csdms.in
Ms. Rufina Fernandes holds significant responsibility for overall operations of Nasscom Foundation. Ms. Fernandes’s career that spans over 18 years includes managing a family business as well as assignments with Alpic Finance and thereafter with GTL Limited. Prior to joining NASSCOM Foundation, she was Sr. Vice President (Strategic Initiatives & Head – CSR).
Joint Director, ASCENT,
He now leads ASCENT’s(Asian Centre for Entrepreneurial Initiatives) cluster development initiatives and also assists in the design, marketing, and delivery of ASCENT’s Entrepreneurship Development Services such as training, research, counseling, and project consulting. After his degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT Manipal, he joined TATA Motors as a management trainee in 1995.
Dr Reuben Samuel
WHO, New Delhi
Under the direct supervision of the Joint Secretary to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, in-charge of the GFATM and the overall supervision of the World Health Organization – Representative to India, Dr Samuel facilitating the establishment and the management of the Secretariat for the GFATM Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in India.
Associate Editor –
India Ltd., Gurgaon
A journalist by profession, Shubhendu Parth has been a strong advocate of technology for masses and moved on from the mainline media, The Indian Express, in 2000 to join Dataquest in order to push the cause. Over his six year stint with the Cyber Media Group he went on to head the CyberMedia News, India’s only technology wire service to steering the magazine’s e-Gov initiative. He is also credited with conceptualizing the Dataquest regional e-Gov Summit and the Dataquest e-Gov Champion Awards.
Manzil, New Delhi
Mr. Gulati is an educationist and free thinker. After his management course at IIM Ahmedabad, he intentionally decided to dedicate his life along with his family to serve the urban needy children in the field of education and training so that they do not lag behind students who have all the resources to avail the best facilities in a typical urban milieu. He runs an organisation called Manzil to achieve the above mentioned objectives.
Dr. V K Dharmadhikari
Scientist G & HOD,
Scientist G & HOD, Internal Coordination, EGPMU, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communication & Information Technology
Technology for the People,
Rajen is a Project Head for SSK at UNICEF Hyderabad and Founder of TFTP (Technology for the People). Rajen is the winner of Manthan Award 2005 as well as Winner of World Summit Award 2005 in the e-Health Category for the product called Sisu Samarakshak. He has just formed India’s first group of ICT for SHGs (Self Help Groups) in Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh
Secretary, Health & Social
Development Research Centre, Jaipur
Ms Mridula Chandra is the Secretary, Health & Social Development Research Centre, Jaipur. She has a vast knowledge experiences in the social sector for over 20 years. A Masters in Social Work from Delhi School of Social Work, Ms Chandra has worked at the community level in the areas of health, HIV/AIDS, family planning and other grassroots areas. She is also a winner of Manthan Award 2005 in the e-Health category.
e-Business & Financial Inclusion And e-Science & Technology
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!
e-Entertainment & Games
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.
e-Education, Learning & Employment
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.
e-Agriculture and Ecology
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!
e-Women & Empowerment
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!
WSA & DEF Conducts Major e-Content Road Show in India
August 5, 2006, New Delhi: DEF along with WSA held a grand e-Content Road Show, in New Delhi, India. organized as “International Conference on e-Content and Sustainability” by WSA’s India partner Digital Empowerment Foundation, the event gathered more than 350 high profile e-content practitioners including many of the government bureaucrats from across the nation.
The highlight of the occasion was the national e-content award ceremony which is known and branded as Manthan Award. WSA’s Indian national e-content contest take place by the name of Manthan Award which is held every year under the patronage of DEF, WSA’s India partner.
The highlight of the roadshow was the showcasing of all the best practices of WSA 2005, and also the local winners of Indian subcontinent. Moreover, the WSA film was shown to all the audience, and DVDs were distributed among all and sundry. The WSA stall attracted major interest who wanted to know the international bet e-contents, and lots of queries of partnership were also raised.
On the other hand, the Manthan Award 2006, which can also be called The Indian WSA, is clearly a picture of hard work, diligence, quality and utility vis-à-vis the emerging e-Content atmosphere in the country, whose trace could be now found in our countryside as well. The winning and appreciation list is basket of creativity, sensibility, and sincerity in digging out innovations, a steely outcome of serious yet positive repercussion on the lives of the commoners courtesy Information Communication Technology. The products are vivacious, elements are threadbare and value is infinite if viewed from its creation to its usability phase in due course, may not be a instant tea/coffee item, just make it, drink and swallow it.
Since the year 2006 Manthan Award was sponsored by American India Foundation, the award was branded as Manthan-AIF Award.
The nominations and winning list is a myriad of a beautiful landscape of e-Content creators and their products cut across 250 total nominations; 14 categories; 32 winners; 5 special mentions, and 4 appreciations for community radio initiatives. Regional and cultural representations were equally vivid; 250 nominations from 24 States and Union Territories.
The nominations list: an interesting revelation across States and UTs. Maharashtra, Delhi and Uttaranchal topped the list with 52, 31 and 13 nominations while Nagaland, Pondicherry and Chandigarh had 1 nomination each while the rest interspersed in between. E-Governance, e-Inclusion and livelihood, e-learning, e-education, were the top notch ones while e-health, e-news, e-entertainment and few others were the laggards in filing nominations.
The Manthan-AIF Award 2006 equally reveals the platforms for e-Content innovations and their delivery. Offline; Web/ Internet; Broadband /online; CD/DVD; Mobile Content; Email; Video conference; LAN or WAN, local radio and Satellite broadcast; Audio video cable are the various technological solutions being utilized for e-Content practices and its distribution. Equally apparent were the cultural and linguistic emergence of e-Content products and services. If the Ananda Utsav site in e-Culture served its audiences in both English and Bengali language, the other picture is of Kannada Logo serving its customers and users in local Kannada language.
The Manthan-AIF 2006 witnessed the presence of technological and other dignitaries who have their presence felt in Information Communication Technology. Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, DG, CSIR; Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner, India; Prof. Anil Gupta, IIMA and National Innovation Foundation; Mr. Avdhash Kaushal, RLEK; Mr. Sachin Pilot, MP were among the distinguished guests whose presence in the Manthan-AIF Award 2006 added the much needed value and utility to the purpose.
The Manthan-AIF Award 2006 winners list is further interesting from quantitative perspective. E-Governance has got five winners, while e-education has four and e-Entertainment has only one winner. Surprisingly there are no winners in the e-Science category. State wise Maharashtra has the maximum winners of eleven in various categories. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh has one winner each while States like Assam, West Bengal have two winners each.
Initiating, operating and spearheading e-Content practices and popularizing it need not be a frustrating experience in India any longer. On the contrary there is a huge surface and edifice coming up and rapidly growing in the country including in the country side for ICT use and e-Content delivery just waiting to be explored and ploughed better for development and empowerment needs. The Manthan-AIF Award 2006 is a stark display of this emerging e-Content trend and increasing popularity whose appetite could be increasing by the day.
The Manthan-AIF Award is a first of its kind initiative in India to recognize the best practices in e-Content and Creativity. Launched in October 2004, by Digital Empowerment Foundation in partnership with World Summit Award, and the American India Foundation, the Manthan Award emphasizes the importance of e-Content & Creativity for and by the grassroots people and organisations. The Manthan Award 2005 recognized and awarded 27 initiatives out of 104 nominations received for 8 categories.
The mission behind Manthan-AIF Award is to create an information rich society where everyone, irrespective of caste, religion, race, region, gender etc., are empowered to create, receive, share and utilize information and knowledge for their economic, social, cultural and political upliftment and development.
The success of ICT does not stand on its own. Among several important components for any ICT intervention content formation and its utility assumes one of the core status. ICT delivery has to take into consideration the local needs of community, type and form of content for consumption and use, language of content and continuous value addition of content services and its delivery.
The Manthan-AIF Award is established to guide India through those best e-Contents from the country which stands out due to their excellence in carrying message and creating knowledge networks among local communities and the wider society. The e-Content practitioners are selected for their exemplary role and activities in empowering communities and groups through their ICT interventions in myriad ways.
The Manthan Award is an Indian initiative by Digital Empowerment Foundation, India as the national initiative of World Summit Award, to select and promote the best practices in e-Content and Creativity in India. It involves representatives from each state and union territory of India and visualizes the bridging of digital divide and narrowing of the content gap as its overall goal.
For Further Information please contact:
Maria Rizvi, Digital Empowerment Foundation
• Bloggers of the world, unite!
ibnlive.com (September 11’06)
• Award for Bihar FM radio station
(August 6 ’06)
• Internet par Bhojpuri ka dakhal
BBCHindi.com (August 6’06)
• Manthan-AIF Award 2006 set
moneycontrol.com/india (August 7 ’06)
• Bhojpuria.com awarded as India`s best eCulture website
• Manthan-AIF Award received by Bhojpuria.com as India’s Best
i4donline.com (August 7 ’06)
• MCH wins award for best practices
The Hindu (August 8’06)
• Bhojpuri site bags Award
The Telegraph (August 9’06)
• Manthan Award
winner @ ITVIDYA.com
ITVIDYA.com (August 11 ’06)
• Award for Best E-content to Iridium Interactive
Indiaprwire.com(August 30 ’06)
• MCH Bags Manthan
– AIF Award 2006
• Manthan Awards announced in 14 categories
agencyfaqs.com (August 8 ’06)
• Manthan-AIF Award 2006 set benchmarks in e-Content development and application
kolkatabuzz.com (August 7 ’06)
• Award for Anandautsav (a Bengali Community Website)
curiosity.rediffiland.com (August 6 ’06)
awarded as India`s best eCulture website
bhojpuria.com/samachar (August 6’06)
• Manthan-AIF Award conferred to Aaranyak
aaranyak.org (August 6 ’06)