Manthan Award 2008

Community Broadcasting : 03 Click here for details
  • Dambadeniya Community Radio, Sri Lanka
  • Equal Access, Nepal
  • Kalanjiam Samuga Vanoli Community Radio, India
  • None
e-Business & Enterprise : 02 Click here for details
  • ngPay, India
  • Safal National Exchange of India Limited, India
  • None
e-Culture & Entertainment :03 Click here for details
  • Unnayan TV, Bangladesh
  • Netbetar, Bangladesh
  •, India
  • None
e-Education : 03 Click here for details
  • Gyandarshan – Gyanvani – eGyankosh, India
  • Learn with Fun, India
  • Kissan Krishideepam, India
  • None
e-Enterprise & Livelihood: 03 Click here for details
  • ITShed, Sri Lanka
  • GiveIndia, India
  • Jeeon-IKB, Bangladesh
  • None
e-Inclusion: 02 Click here for details
  • Arpit’s Wheel, India
  • Digital Talking Books, Sri Lanka
  • None
Governance: 02 Click here for details
  • Unified Ration Card Project, India
  •, Bangladesh
  • None
  • Web Health Centre, India
  • Integrated Digital Health Platform, India
  • We in Recovery, India
  • Project HIGH>>>WAYS…beyond cancer, India
  • None
e-Learning :02 Click here for details
  • Digitally, India
  • MEdRC Edutech, India
  • None
e-Localization : 03Click here for details
  • Hoimonti, Bangladesh
  • Lipikaar, India
  • Sea Monkey, Afghanistan
  • None
e-News & Media : 03 Click here for details
  • Pratibadh (Wall Newspaper), India
  • CGnet, Inda
  • None
e-Science & Environment :01 Click here for details
  • India Water Portal, India
  • None
M-Content : 01 Click here for details
  • CellBazaar, Bangladesh
  • None
Jurors’ Distinction Award for Innovation : 02 Click here for details
  •, India
  • VoiKiosk, India
  • None
Special Appreciation Award for an Emerging State: 01 Click here for details
  • Jharkhand
  • None
Workshop: Community Broadcasting
At this workshop, Mr Alonso from UNESCO explained the meaning of community radio and also its importance in the society. He described community radio as a type of radio service that caters to the interests of a certain area, broadcasting material that is popular to a local audience but is overlooked by more powerful broadcast groups. More…
Workshop: ICT @ Social Entrepreneurship
A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Since there is no dirth of social problems in India, the workshop on Social Entrepreneurship during the three day Manthan gala was a good platform More…
WSA E-Content Summit, India
Alongside the Manthan Award South Asia 2008, Digital Empowerment Foundation organised various Roundtables on a host of themes. That also included WSA e-Content Summit. Click more to see all of the reports in on place for our web visitors. More…
ICONECS III: E-Content in Localisation and Inclusion
Technology cannot claim to have solved its purpose if it is unable to reach the local level and include as many in its fold as it can. Therefore, it has to break barriers which block its path of reaching out to as many as possible. There are many who are working towards the goal of making technology accessible to as many. More…
ICONECS III: E-Content in News and M-Content
Technology, if used in the right way, will not just provide news and information to large populations, but create a situation where people will have unlimited scope for being informed anywhere, anytime. We just need to make use of the high level of mobile penetration and make content through computers more accessible. More…
ICONECS III: E-Content in Health and Environment
The session on ‘E Content in Health and Environment’ was dedicated to the importance of ICT and digital content in health services delivery with affordable quality and accessible content and services, at the same time, overcoming time, geographical, economic and social limitations.More…
Round Table: ICT @ Health for the Masses
Health has always been a cause of primary concern in our country, especially in a scenario where large populations do not have access to proper health care facilities. The roundtable conference on ‘ICT @ Health for the Masses’ discussed issues pertaining to problems in health sector and how they can More…
Round Table: Content and Accessibility in Education
NIOS Chairperson Professor M C Pant set the tone for discussion as he put forward his point of view that the country is facing the challenge of less number of educational institutions in addition to the issue of creditability and quality of education. He recommended that in such a situation, ICT solutions can make educational content accessible. More…
ICONECS III: E-Content in Culture and Entertainment
How technology can give a stimulus to efforts in the area of culture and entertainment came as a wonderful eye-opener during the ICONECS session on E-Content in Culture and Entertainment during Manthan Award South Asia Conclave 2008. Various presentations from countries like Bangladesh, More…
Round Table: Inclusive Governance through Digital Panchayat
In a country where most of the population resides in villages, one cannot ignore the fact that empowering the villagers would lead to a developed India. Digital panchayats could be viable platforms to that end. Therefore, the roundtable on Inclusive governance through digital panchayats and constituencies was a More…
Round Table: ICT for Drinking Water and Sanitation
Availability of water has become a matter of concern today and it is not for reasons not known to us. Thus, the roundtable Conference on Information Communication Technology for Drinking Water and Sanitation saw participation by experts in the field who have been working to improve the situation More…
ICONECS III: E-Content in Governance and Business
Governance and business go hand in hand and are the two most important driving forces for any country. Therefore, it is inevitable that the ICONECS session on ‘e-Content in Governance and Business’ saw eminent personalities and experts from these fields making presentations and explaining how they were making use of ICT tools and digital content to boost development.
ICONECS III: E-Content for Learning and Education
e learning is the unifying term to describe the fields of online learning, web-based training, and technology-delivered instruction, the convergence of the Internet and learning, or Internet-enabled learning, the use of network technologies to create, foster, deliver, and facilitate learning, anytime and anywhere. More…

MATHAN AWARDS IN INDIA & SOUTH ASIA ICT & Digital Content for Development

Salzburg/New Delhi, October 8, 2008: With the backdrop of identifying the best practioners of the south asian region, the Digital Empowerment Foundation and the World Summit Award are organising together with the Center for e-Governance, the South Asia Conclave on ICT & Digital Content for Development as part of efforts to strengthen the Digital Content Movement in the countries of the region.

The prime objective of this initiative is to promote quality contents as an essential element in the creation of a quality information society and to address the widening digital divides and strategies to bridge the content gap between the North and the South.

South Asian countries play a critical role in advancing the Digital Content Movement thanks to the strong economic growth of the last years and the high levels of technical education and creativity among multimedia and internet professionals, companies and NGOs.

Yet, as the biannual global contests of the World Summit Award have shown in 2003, 2005 and 2007, the potential is not fully used. Rather, South Asian countries remain underrepresented among the winners of the World Summit Award.

Thus, the strategic direction of WSA is to strengthen the digital content industries and the creative development in the region by holding national contests in all countries and partnering with leading organisations such as the Digital Empowerment Foundation for conducting workshops, conferences and Global Digital Content Summits.

WSA’s plan up to 2015 foresees a myriad of innovative content in fixed line and mobile Internet applications.

WSA takes great pride at leading this vision thanks to the cooperation with the Manthan Award, which now proactively encompass the entire South Asia for the World Summit Award.

I look forward to personally get involved with the movement in South Asia.


Peter Bruck
World Summit Award

Creating Digital Content is fundamental
sam pitroda

There is a Herculean task before India. The task is the development of the country. As an Indian, I would say that we need to realize how important it is the role of information communication technology in digital content and digital services as far as the developmental sector is concerned. India has a huge potential in this field, which results from our disparity and diversity, coupled with our strong heritage in art, culture, music, food, paintings.

This gives us a huge canvas of our own content. If you look back a little, you will realise that we have created a lot in the last two-three years that needs to be documented with the help of digital media. Besides, we have to remember that the content has to be about things that really made an impact on the history of India. Whether it is about our religious places, our poetry, and our way of life, a lot of content needs to be documented.
Content for decreasing divide
We have to start somewhere. In a country like India, where we have this huge divide between the haves and the haves not, between the urban and the rural, between educated and uneducated, our efforts have to be directed towards decreasing the divide.   Creating digital content is fundamental to decreasing the divide in a modern day environment like we are in. So, on one hand the job is to create whole new content and documenting it, followed by targeting the people for whom it is meant for, and the issue of how will it be delivered. We must remember that this cannot be accomplished by a single soul. It requires thousands and thousands of people.

I believe that the local content which we are creating is short of what may be used as a domestic content.   I feel the question is how to bring the already existing digital content into the virtual world. We probably have more regional content than any other country. I am convinced of that.  Nowhere will you find such diversity. Multiple tribes, multiple races, multiple religions, you name it and we have it. Our local content is very rich. Be it  the Madhubani Paintings, or some tribal art (even art of masks), or tribal languages. All this is real world heritage of our own content which needs to be brought before the masses through the virtual medium. Here the process of digitization comes into picture.

Reaching out to the last mile
I would like to draw your attention towards mobilisation of the last mile, or reaching out to that man at the far end or the end of the ladder. My concern is that a mechanism to reflect the accountability of the representatives in a huge democracy like India is non-existent.  Where is the platform for the masses to get an answer to their questions about the manner in which the MPs, MLAs etc are dispensing their duties? You won’t see even a single Panchayat, MLA or MP portal or website. ICT is hardly used to inform the people. None of those in seat of authority are interested. Also, MPLADS fund does not give scope for the same.

To connect the representatives and those whom they represent is a rare phenomenon. When I think it seems really funny, that I select people, I elect people, send them to the Parliament, to an Assembly, but they are not accountable. This is unfair. If we start the trend, linking representatives with the people, you will suddenly have 5000 websites resplendent with the nitty gritties.

If you look at expansion of governance, there is e-governance in India. However, governance is really not up to the mark in our country, despite all the money that we have spent on it and keep spending. At least I do not feel satisfied as a citizen.  I really need to look at 20 processes which have contributed to improving services provided to the citizens. Have they really succeeded? Has it changed our culture of unaccountability? Have we become open, responsible, accountable and answerable? If not, then it is e-governance for namesake and not for real change.

Absence of ‘e’ in education
Coming to education, every school should have its presence on the web. I need to know my physics teacher. My question is how many teachers are there on the net? What about places of higher learning, like IITs and IIMs portals?  Every university should have a portal. All course work, all grades, all admissions, the background of all teachers, all courses, what the teacher teaches, everything should be there on the portal. These are institutes of higher learning, so they should set the trend. I believe the representatives of the people will eventually follow. Not even the so called progressive institutions have done it.

Active district portals are needed.
You need portals for every district. For example, I am in a district of Balangir where I was born and I need to know about the place, what is the size of the district, its demography, how many schools are there, the teachers, colleges, business activities of the district and much more. But who is going to do it?

Most people do not understand the information technology culture, even the best of intellectuals. It’s all about openness, all about accessibility, connectivity, it’s all about networking, it’s all about decentralization. I think it requires people to be very accessible. If I  can talk to you, I should be able to talk to a person in Uganda at the same time. How do I change the way I see the world today? Today, the entire world is going through a major transformation. The world has to be made a more local place.

ICT needs to be made much more use of and also the all new methods we will have to adopt. New economy has to be developed; new skills have to be developed. Everything today is localized, and information bridges the distance.

Value of Information & Digital Content
It is not possible to change the DNA of the whole system overnight. People have to understand the value of information and digital content, which they do not. The digitisation process and documentation of content will in the end effect generations.  A lot of work has started taking place.

E-governance is a good way to reach out to people, to improve access to each. Birth certificates have to be made available through the internet. Land records should be available on the net. On one hand you need standardization, and on the other its implementation.

Few Points Vital
There are a few points which we need to concentrate upon while working towards the digitization process, or digital content creation process, or digital service delivery process. This will push the process into a fast forward mode.

Successful e-governance has to be our target. We need to identify the areas where e-governance has to be strengthened, fund them properly through public private partnership, and make it global content. The implementation of e-governance has to be at the district level.  We must remember that all these efforts require large amount of participation from people.  We have started doing things in our capacity. We have India Water Portal ( ) in association with Arghyam. In energy we have a portal with Teri, in environment with the Centre for Science and Environment. A health portal is coming up soon.

We have to move in the right direction. A country as gifted as India with so much talent only requires the will and effort, and the results will surely become visible. India has to rise and shine before the world.

Making best use of digital economy and technology to bridge digital divide…
Prof Anil Gupta

It is a world brimming with opportunities, and also challenges.    We cannot afford to be left behind in making use of information communication technology for our progress. We need to work upon innovative ideas for the purpose of working towards this end.

I have on various occasions spoken and written about few ideas, which I believe can bring tremendous change in the state of affairs. These include, making use of the inherent talents and knowledge of the poor man,   coming up with portals of various kinds, changing the education system, etc.  All my ideas, except one or two, need ICT and digital application to reap fruit.

Let me start by saying that there is huge digital divide prevalent in our society in urban and rural areas, in the formal and the informal sector, in the organized and the unorganized sector, between the literate and the not so literate or uneducated. This disparity is the biggest paradox of India and in entire South Asia. The big question is how to make best use of digital economy, digital technology to empower the knowledge and culture rich, but economically poor people, so that we can bridge this huge divide.

It is no less an irony that a country like India which claims to be a world leader in IT today and provide services to the top companies of the world, is unable to provide digital content in the local languages to address basic education, health, governance and commerce needs. In case of education needs, while computers are reaching, the content is not reaching.

Making best use of ICT & Digital Content
Let us not deny the fact that we are yet to make actual and better use of various ICT tools and applications. When I say ICT I don’t mean only the Internet. ICTs also include the traditional TV / radio sets which can be best used to reach out to millions in a rural society like India. For instance, in the 1960s, television brought about a revolution in our lives with its role as a countrywide classroom. It was on Doordarshan that lectures on various subjects were given. This had proved beneficial for schools in various parts of the country, especially those teaching underprivileged children. We can also think of a similar connection with radio.

The sad part is that today, I can’t even think of even five programmes on radio that people listen to. There are few programmes meant for children that are broadcast on Doordarshan. However, their timings are not suited to the liking of the children. But as far as radio is concerned, I can claim that there are no educational programmes.  The content of these programmes, if any, is a separate issue.

Here, I would like to put forward an idea which I believe can do wonders. The radio can be used in combination with the telephone for the purpose of bringing about real development through delivery of useful content. For instance, we can have a toll free number which people can make use of to have their issues and problems aired on radio. The radio can serve as a medium to provide solutions to these problems as well as educate the masses.  The idea of creating a portal on radio, especially an educational portal on radio through telephone is a brilliant idea as per my understanding.

Talking about the issue of making the vast reservoir of knowledge and content on internet accessible at the grassroots level, a very effective technique can be adopted. We should provide net access to the teachers, who can download the matter and disseminate the knowledge /information to the students.  By paying Rs 4 to Rs 10 rupees to an interactive kiosk, a large number of people will be benefitted.  Yet, still the larger question remains:  where is the content for the school dropouts?

Now that we have a community radio act, I would say that the schools at block level should have community radio licence to be able to broadcast the lessons which will be taught by the local teachers in local languages. In this manner, those children who are unable to go to school for some reason can get some education.

Cultural enrichment using ICT tools and applications is equally important. My idea is to create a portal wherein a social and economic market for cultural creativity can be promoted. There are so many talents lying idle and obscure in remote areas of our country and that too diverse content. Why not tap all these through a cultural portal.  It is very relevant to facilitate the artists by creating a demand for their work among people who love art and culture.  The proposal is if somebody who is interested, can either video graph or record their performance with the help of a mobile and take down the name and the address of the artist and post it on the portal. This way, anybody who wants to listen to that music or art, irrespective of where he or she is sitting, Munger in Bihar or Champaran will be able to download the performance. If he or she appreciates the art, they download a form by paying 1 rupee for it. This money goes to the account of the person whose song it is.

Economic empowerment through ICTs is very much possible and has been demonstrated. ICTs can facilitate both the demand and supply chain of products and services. One moot point here is how to use the supply chain, which you can download from my webpage on integrating vertical and horizontal markets. Let’s say you want a particular pickle or want to make a particular variety of pickle. Sitting in Delhi, you want to get the taste of that particular dish from another state. So what you do is you go to the net, find out the whereabouts of the person who makes that dish and place a order on the net. The order will reach the house, the courier agency will connect with the packaging industry, the packaging industry will coordinate with the courier agency and, and in 36 hours you will get that dish in your house from that village. So you are connected to the supply chain.
Inclusive Human Resources
The need to build and upscale the social capital which includes the human capital is critical for the growth process. And here I see the momentous role of the ICT tools and applications in enabling the same, in building and scaling up the social and human capital in diverse areas of interventions.

There is tremendous restructuring going on in the manufacturing industry because many large companies are vertically integrated. Outsourcing is now getting to the next level. This is the age of restructuring. What I am saying is that if you have 5 machines and I have 4 machines, some have 3, others have 5; a pool can be created for helping industries of the world. You can place an order for that on this portal, place requisition and we will our supply chain, organize them and will give you product, whether we make it from 10 places or one place.

This is decentralizing the process and making use of small workshops. We are trying to give work to lesser known names. This way, instead of few large companies taking care of the needs of the world, we create a large number of hubs which will be networked to the international community through digital technology. Let us create a pool of villagers who are skilled. We have to network them, decentralize the opportunities.  This way, things can be and will be done through distributed models. Local supply chains will be made and global markets will be created.   We want our skills to be engaged with organizing things on a scale where people will contribute their best. Their creativity will be enhanced.  Here we are talking about grassroots to global ,or what I would call G2G. You may even call it gLocalisation.

e-Business & Financial Inclusion And e-Science & Technology

Using technology to serve the remotest of remote

e--Business-&-Financial-Inclusion-And-e--Science-&-TechnologyHosted 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. 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

e-healthOn 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.

Unique ideas

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

e-Entertainment-&-GamesNew-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.

Promoting art

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. 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

e-Education-Learning-&-EmploymentFor 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

e-Agriculture-&-EcologyDigital 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

e-Women-&-EmpowermentEvery 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, and special mentions went to UN Women and Project Sampark (Telenor India).

Achievements 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.

Best practices

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!

The Manthan Award South Asia 2008: South Asia Conclave on Digital Content & Development

By Nidhi Sharma

“Technology is no longer a luxury but has become a necessity. Without technology, development will not take place”, said the Union  Minister of  State for Communications & Information Technology, Mr.  Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia  in his speech as the chief guest during the inauguration ceremony of the Sixth Manthan Award South Asia 2008 conclave. “It is equally important that traditional as well as new technology options are explored to the fullest to cater to the basic needs of millions of citizens in India and entire South Asia. The role of Information Communication Technology has to be seen in this context. ICT along with digital technology and content has enormous power and scope to address key development and governance challenges in the entire Sub-Continent,” added Mr. Scindia. He stressed the need to recognize the essence of  recognising e content practices and development models as much as possible.  The annual conclave is organized by Digital Empowerment Foundation with the conference on ‘Digital Content & Development’ and the Manthan Award Gala to recognize best digital content practices as key event highlights.

This year, the three-day Manthan Award conclave, held in New Delhi from October 16-18 witnessed tremendous activities with parallel thematic sessions, workshops, and roundtable conclaves.   Besides celebrating the best e content practices, the event provided a holistic  platform for exchange of ideas and experiences for the  innovative users and implementers of information communication technologies and tools for  development for benefit of the masses. To make the three days event more substantive,  the ICT for development exhibition  provided an opportunity for ICTD organisations to demonstrate their innovations, practices and products. The exhibition witnessed more than fifty exhibitors across South Asia from public, private and civil society domains alongside Manthan Award partners, nominees and supporters.

It was a milestone year for the Manthan Award journey, with the Award process reaching out to the South Asia in 2008 in scouting out and recognizing best ICT and digital content for development practices and innovations. Also witnessed this year are representatives from 17 countries, all member representatives of World Summit Award, participating in a big way.  The participating countries included Italy, Austria, Germany, China, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Malaysia and others. The World Summit Award is held under World Summit on Information Society, WSIS, now under UN aegis to recognize best digital content practices worldwide annually.

The parallel thematic events and sessions were held focusing on role of digital content and technology in vital  spheres of education, learning, business, medicine, culture and entertainments.   The two event workshops delved on  role of ICT in creating rural social entrepreneurs and on  community broadcasting. For the first time, the  World Summit Award  e content summit, India 2008 was held to deliberate on key critical areas of digital content and development including policy matters worldwide and specially in India. Each of parallel thematic events came out with a set of workable  recommendations for transforming those into a plan of action at the policy level to be worked upon by  Manthan Award organisers in close coordination with government bodies and Ministries.

The focus in the inaugural session was on socio-economic divide superimposed with digital divides and role of ICT and digital content and technology in addressing these widening divides. The key speakers who shared their ideas in thoughts included the Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Mr.   Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia,   Professor Anil Gupta from Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and who is also the Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation, Lakshadweep Administrator Mr. B. V. Selvaraj, Editor of Mint Mr. Raju Narisetti, Country Manager of IBM, Mr. Satish Kaushal, World Summit Award Chairman, Prof. Peter Bruck, and World Ahead Director of Intel, Mr. R. Ravichandran.

The afternoon sessions on first day were divided into  three parallel sessions, i.e.,  ICONECS session on E Content in Government and Business, and  E Content for learning and Education, and  Roundtable Policy discussion on ‘ICT for drinking water and sanitation’.  The session on eContent in governance and business provided tremendous encouragement through the examples of places like Lakshadweep and Chattisgarh, where digitization and realization of the rights of those living in forests had made tremendous progress using ICT and digital content. Bangladesh showed how people in a democracy have to be informed about those who will be representing them in power. E Bay showed how large populations can be turned into entrepreneurs with the help of technology.    In the session on eContent for learning and Education it was unanimously accepted that there is need for new and effective ways of quality learning for the youth, especially in the rural areas of the country. It was also discussed about how to tackle the vast untapped talent of the educated youth who has being neglected. “eLearning as a type of education where the medium of instruction is computer technology can facilitate rural education in both quantitative and qualitative ways.  

The two key focus areas during the Round Table discussion on ‘ICT and Drinking Water & Sanitation’ were  relating to assessment of ICT training needs for water practitioners and communities and mechanisms for ICT enablement of Social Audit of Government’s Water and Sanitation Programmes.  As far as innovative ICT applications for water and sanitation sector is concerned it  can be delivered through ICT kiosks and mobile platforms are concerned the challenge lie in  their Field testing. Relating to assessment of ICT training needs for water practitioners and communities  the following suggestions/ action plan was mooted:

 Use of local language in such areas should be adopted to increase local participation.
 Data collection to be given most importance at the grass root level as this data is the base for macro analysis.
 Knowledge updation is very essential.
 Explaining people that use of technology would not end their work but will only assist them.
 Increase participation of women and children in welfare organizations.
 Improvement in the field of pilot projects required.
 Objectives for which the data is being collected should be predetermined for better data management.
 Use of sign language could be developed in this field.

 The mechanisms for ICT enabled social audit of Government’s Water and Sanitation Programme, including inputs from citizens can be feasible through: Creation of more computer literates to spread awareness among the masses and provide computer and internet access to various villages.
 The   quality check of water in various places can be done through water quality index to be  maintained on seasonal basis to make people aware of the quality of water they are using.
 There is the need to devise a data which compares the government’s reports of work done and ground reality which exists.
 The places for possible action plan are Sangam in Allahabad in northern region and any village near river Kaveri in Karnataka in the south.

Day two focused on key thematic sessions like digital content and education, health and digital panchayat and inclusive governance.The parallel ICONECS sessions focused on digital content in culture and entertainment; content in health and environment; digital content in News and Mobile tools; e-Content in Health and Environment, e-Content in Localisation and Inclusion and a Roundtable Policy discussion on Inclusive Governance through Digital Panchayats and Constituencies.

Various recommendations and action plans emerged out of these thematic sessions.  One of the recommendation was the already developed cultural web portals could be shared with UNESCO for possible support and sharing. Countries like Sri Lanka   should seek support from UNESCO and other UN agencies for the preservation of historical and cultural heritage . Further, there is urgent necessity  to have  Local Area Portals which can be accessed by all. There should be amalgamation of all contents produced by the participant organisations and individuals for the common purpose of preserving and promoting different cultures and social and economic features and variables.

There is a need to develop a portal wherein the information about all Community Radio programmes at the South Asia level could be uploaded, including the content, so that it can be shared, listened to and modified according to the local needs. The portal will also highlight the common practices, experiences in sustaining the community radio, training modules and other relevant information/knowledge in relation to the CR initiatives. Local initiatives could be documented and shared across South Asia and in the entire globe so that the local innovations could be replicated.  The Manthan Award can provide a platform wherein all these initiatives could be shared on a regular basis. The involvement of children in the process of gathering information about culture in which they are surrounded by is very important. This is in order to inculcate the sense of preservation in them since childhood. This idea has been very successful in countries like Sri Lanka.

One of the strong recommendations during the Round table session on  ‘ICT @ Health for the masses’, was-  holistic development intrinsically linked to good health, as only healthy citizens can be productive in their performance. Efforts by corporate institutions like TCS, Satyam, and other organizations working together to improve the healthcare scenario in our country can set a good example   and there are already efforts towards this. 

The Policy Roundtable on ‘Content, connectivity and Accessibility in Education’ saw the participants agreeing on benchmarking and determining the threshold points for ICT based content that would further help in defining standards for quality educational content. They found that making quality content accessible and regular assessment in the education process is very important for quality and sustainable outcome.

The ICONECS session on ‘e-Content in News and m-content’  strongly mooted the point that  technology, if used in the right way, will not just provide news and information to large populations, but create a situation where people will have unlimited scope for being informed anywhere, anytime. One just needs to make use of the high level of mobile handset penetration and make content through computers more accessible. Further, technology cannot claim to have solved its purpose if it is unable to reach out to the local level and include as many in its fold as it can. This strongly argues for a greater localization and inclusion process in digital content for development model.  

The Policy discussion  on Health and Environment led to various recommendations.   To begin with, there should be sharing of database to enhance the functioning of the various organizations. The government’s funds can be saved by questioning the organizations on their working and informing the government about the progress in the work. Expenditure gets doubled when different organizations are working on the same problems. There need be effective coordination and networking between agencies  for working in a better way. Money should be spent on creating awareness about health issues and a better environment. There should be copyright of the data of the hospitals and very importantly, there should be negotiation with the vendor (in these cases corporate) to reduce implementation cost.

The strongest point unanimously agreed upon during the Policy Roundtable on ‘Digital Panchayat and Inclusive Governance’ was  in a country like India where most of the population resides in villages, one cannot ignore the fact that empowering the villagers would lead to a developed India. Digital panchayats are a means to that end.  Speaking at this Round Table deliberation, Padmashree Anna Hazare, the man behind Right to Information in India ,  said “the world has come closer and competition has increased. To keep pace with the rest of the world, one needs to make use of the power of IT”. Reminding that Gandhiji had advocated decentralisation to strengthen democracy, Shri Hazare explained how IT is now the best tool for enabling decentralisation, eradicating corruption and increasing people’s participation in democracy. It is only with the help of technology that digital panchayats will help in good e-governance and overall governance functioning and service delivery

The roundtable reaped some sound results. Mr. T. R.  Raghunandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Govt. of India spoke about various points given by him to panchayat representatives which included ideas  to fight corruption as far as funds allocated for panchayats are concerned. Mr Osama Manzar, Chairman, the Manthan Award, assured Mr Raghunandan that initiative would be taken on the suggestions given by him. He assured that Digital Empowerment Foundation, that Manzar heads,  would take hundred gram panchayats under honorary leadership of social activist Shri Anna Hazare, the man behind RTI in India. This way it would try to track corruption in various schemes with the help of guidelines given by Mr Raghunandan.  

Day three, the final day of the conclave, hosted the  World Summit Award India e- Content Summit, 2008,  workshop on ICT @ Social Entrepreneurship and the Community Broadcasting workshop. The second half of the same day hosted grassroots cultural programme and puppet shows as traditional content display and the Manthan Award South Asia 2008 Gala.

At the India WSA Summit, the moot discussion point was   technology is   outclassing the content domain the widening content gaps.

ICT and digital content experts from Germany, China, Nepal and others shared how  the situation in their countries was and gave their ideas towards bridging the digital divide with quality content. Mr. Peter Bruck, Chairman, World Summit Award Austria,  gave the concluding note by making few points. To begin with, the ICT and content network should be open, fair and competitive exchange should take place. The need is to congregate with others to become better equipped. Lighthouse events and lighthouse projects for own countries should be created. Content gap is human in nature and technology advances much faster than what humans do, and hence the more the need to unite and  keep pace.

The workshop on ‘ICT @ Social Entrepreneurship’ provided a workable  platform for viewing different endeavours undertaken in this direction and provided a scope to bring out analytical perspective on various  entrepreneurial initiatives that can be taken up for actual development at the grassroots involving the youth. It could be seen through the presentations that in present situation, technology has left no barriers for anybody, be it a housewife, a retired person, student or anyone else, to have a career as a social entrepreneur.

The presentations at the Community Broadcasting workshop led to the recommendations that  recorded content should be kept in the libraries for open access to all  . There should be Emergency community radio schemes in times of natural disasters. Moreover, the technology used for community broadcasting should be user friendly and people with disabilities should also have accessibility to the content.

The Manthan Award South Asia 2008 Gala provided the climax to the three days conclave wherein the    names of the best innovators, practitioners and implementers of  ICT and digital content for development across South Asia were announced.   These are the people and organisations that had not just recognised the challenges, but also put maximum  hard work to create new roads for development across communities. Besides  33 winners, there were many shortlisted candidates whose efforts in bringing positive changes in the lives of so many were found to be commendable.

The Award gala witnessed special guests presence in Shri Anna Hazare, Prof. Anil Gupta, Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Mr. B V Selvaraj, Mr. R. Chandrasekhar, Mr. Sanjeev Bikhchandani, and Prof. Peter Bruck. Also,  the occasion was resplendent with the presence of experts and intellectuals from not just various fields, but 17 countries as well. They made the evening memorable by sharing their experience and giving some brilliant food for thought. The evening started with a puppet show by artists from Barefoot College, Tilonia, who artistically explained the daily woes of rural people in the state of Rajasthan. Their song gave a local flavour to the event.

Mr. Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner, India,  stressed on the benefits of Right To Information Act 2005. He read out Section 4(1) (b) and 4(1) (d) of the said act and explained how the RTI makes the government more transparent and accountable. He, however, made the point that what is coming in between the effective implementation of the RTI is lack of public pressure on the government. The true spirit of RTI has not been realized because of this.

Mr R. chandrashekhar, Special Secretary, Dept. of IT, India, claimed that Information Communication Technology is a very important tool to meet the developmental challenges of the country. He said that there should be greater cooperation between public and private players because government cannot alone meet these challenges as it requires tremendous amount of efforts. Efforts are not seem to be enough as far as broadband connectivity is concerned. India is basically service oriented. The main aim is to reach the one billion plus population. All public and private services should be integrated.

Prof   Peter Bruck, chairman of the World Summit Award,  did put his interesting point this way –  if asked which were the best mobile companies in the world, we would be able to give an answer immediately. But if we were to tell the best digital content companies, we would be unable to do so. So these lacunae have to be taken care of. Prof Bruck explained the three main ideas behind Manthan awards. Firstly, it creates a strong belief that ICT is an opportunity and helps in engaging with the society actively. Technology is an important asset for human beings. Human beings need to have patience and tolerance in order to grow. Finally, all those who have worked hard in the field of e-content to change the society for better are recognized through the Manthan awards.

Stressing the fact that the Indian model of development should be more inclusive, Professor Anil Gupta of IIM, Ahmedabad and Vice Chairman of National Innovation Foundation, India, said that use of information technology should be done for social development rather than for commercial motive.  He also highlighted the fact that content in Indian languages   is very low and that needs to be taken care of.

Padmashree Shri Anna Hazare charged up the ambience by his speech. He stressed that if one RTI Act can bring about such a revolution then one can imagine what more such laws can do for the country. He explained that with the help of information technology, a simple villager can be connected to the whole world. “RTI is a right of the citizens and not a state’s discretionary power, so the state is bound to disclose all relevant information when asked,” he said.  Shri Hazare added that the private sector should not be kept aloof. It should also be brought under the umbrella of RTI. He further argued that “Public servants should reveal all their personal assets on internet portals. Corruption will have to be eradicated for true development,” He stressed that the sacrifices made by freedom fighters should not go in vain.

Altogether 33 winners from the region were declared winners and felicitated. The Awards were given away by the chief guests present on the occasion. 

The list of winners


1) Dambadeniya Community Radio, Sri Lanka
2) Equal Access, Nepal
3) Kalanjiam Samuga Vanoli Community Radio, Tamil Nadu, India


1) Safal National Exchange of India Limited, Karnataka, India
2) ngPay, Karnataka, India


1) Unnanya TV (Development TV), Dhaka, Bangladesh
2) Youth Voice – (Netbetar), Dhaka, Bangladesh
3), Jharkhand, India


1) Gyandarshan, – Gyanvani, IGNOU, New Delhi, India
2)  ‘Learn with fun’ – Karnataka, India
3) Kissan Krishideepam, Kerela, India


1)  ITSHED, Sri Lanka
2) Giveindia, India
3) Jeeon-IKB, Bangladesh


15) Unified Ration Card Project, Chattisgarh, India
16), Dhaka, Bangladesh


1) Arpit’s Wheel, Delhi, India
2) Digital Talking Books, Sri Lanka


1) Web Health Centre, Tamil Nadu, India
2) Integrated Digital Health Platform, Andhra Pradesh, India
3) We In Recovery, New Delhi, India

4) Project HIGH>>>WAYS…Beyond Cancer, India

1) DigitAlly, Karnataka, India
2) MEdRC EduTech, Andhra Pradesh, India

1) Hoimonti, Bangladesh
2) Lipikaar, Maharashtra, India
3) Sea Monkey, Afghanistan


1) Pratibadh (Wall Newspaper), New Delhi, India
2) CGNet, Chattisgarh, India

30) India Water Portal, Karnataka, India

1) Cell Bazaar, Dhaka, Bangladesh


1), Karnataka, India
2) VoiKiosk, Delhi/Hyderabad, India

Chairman Award for Special Recognition as Emerging State
(This is a special award from the Chairman)

Jharkhand state

Total nominations received: 284
Valid nominations: 264
Winners: 33
The ratio

Manthan Coverage in HT (31st Oct ’08)

Manthan Coverage in mint (20th Oct ’08)

Mantan Coverage in HT (Nov 1st ’08)

i4d Coverage – Manthan Award South Asia 2008

Manthan Award Coverage in Civil Society
India Water Portal bags Manthan Award

DNA Coverage
UnnayanNews covers Manthan Award South Asia 2008

Manthan Award Coverage in SriLanka
Manthan coverage in SAAMANA

Yahoo!News Covers Manthan Awardee
Lipikaar wins the Manthan Award South Asia 2008

GiveIndia wins Manthan Award South Asia 2008
Byrraju Foundation lists Manthan Award

Manthan Coverage in Dainik Jagran City Plus
KissanKrishipeepam on Oneindia

KissanKrishipeepam in The Hindu
Manthan Jury Coverage in The Telegraph

HMRI Coverage in Hindu BuinessLine
KissanKrishideepam on WebIndia123

Gemidiriya lists Manthan Award South Asia 2008

Dataquest Coverage – Making a Difference
Manthan Theme on CNN-IBN

Pratibadh in
Pratibadh in Times of India (Patna Edition)

Coverage in Loksatta, Pune
Coverage on IGNOU in HT

KissanKrishiDeepam Coverage in HT
KissanKrishiDeepam on YouTube

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