Question (FAQs) about Manthan Award for Best e-Content in India
Briefly describe Manthan Award. How
is it innovative with respect to the norms in your sector?
Digital Empowerment foundation works in the area of
Development in relations to Information
Communication Technology with especial focus in research
and assessment and recognizing the un-recognised.
Ironically, most of the movements in the ICT for
Development sector are more about technology and less about
final deliverables or content in general. DEF observed
that most of the innovative initiatives at the grassroots
level using ICT do not get attention and recognition
which could easily enable them to move forward.
Therefore, Manthan Award was conceived under the
guidelines of World Summit on the Information Society
and its e-Content award called World Summit Award. The
agenda of the Manthan Award is to inspire, encourage
and recognise the un-sung heroes and un-recognised
innovators who would be using ICT application to deliver
extremely useful content/business/products/services and
leave an impact on the last mile citizens.
Started in 2005, in the first year itself,
Manthan Award recognised 27 such initiative and incidentally
they all were first time winners of any award in their
life of high impact innovative projects.
The beauty of Manthan Award is its is a platform
for and by innovators which is designed to bring them
into the limelight as most of the best social
innovations do not even get into the sustainability as they
desperately lack national and global platform to become
The Manthan Award also achieves the purpose of
all horizontal as it invites nominations from sectors
like e-governance, e-learning, e-education, e-business,
e-culture, e-science, e-entertainment, e-health, and
e-Inclusion & Livelihood. Because of the popularity
and large scale acceptance, Manthan Award in 2006 has
expanded the categories by including e-news, e-youth,
e-localisation, and m-content.
Interestingly, the Manthan Award defines
e-content as the final deliverables like knowledge, information,
products and services by using digital medium such as
telephone, mobile, radio, television, internet, web,
satellite, mobile vehicles, CD, DVD, movie, and so on.
The best for the award would be those who apply the best
creativity of the usage of ICT and apply prime focus on
The winners of Manthan Award 2005 can be seen at
which clearly explains the concept
and power this award which is the only of its kind in
India and abroad.
Describe the origin of Manthan Award.
The origin of the Manthan Award is its association
with World Summit Award. In 2003, WSA was conceived in
Austria under the framework of United Nation’s World
Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). As matter of its
process, WSA selected Mr. Osama Manzar, director of
Digital Empowerment Foundation as its India Country Expert
of e-Content. The country experts are supposed to apply
their own process to select and nominate 8 entries
from the country. Later, WSA further selected Mr. Manzar
as one of the 35 grand Jury members of WSA. With an
active and innovative contribution of the Indian expert,
WSA also offered and placed Mr. Osama Manzar as one
of the board of director and signed a MoU with DEF to
work together with similar agenda of recognizing the best
practices in e-Content and Creativity.
For the last three years, WSA and DEF
partnership has been working together and through Manthan Award
selecting the best innovative products from India and
putting efforts to make them reach global attention.
Describe the challenges during the
- The biggest hurdle was to make people understand
the practical meaning of e-content and the implication
creative in using ICT as enabler for social innovation. It cannot be
confidently said that this hurdle is over
but the tough task to reach people and each and every time a
nomination comes, a return call becomes necessary to
make them understand and resend the nominations in appropriate
format with right information.
- Launching Manthan Award as a non-entity with
almost no budget and yet making a success out of it. Many of
the awardees in fact mentioned that they had never heard of the
Manthan Award and were skeptical; and requested
to make various road shows to get them widespread publicity and
- Getting formidable number of nominations; this was
overcome by accumulating database and contacting each
one of them by phone and influencing them to apply. But the award
ceremony brought tears into the eyes of many
awardees as many of them has been struggling to make a mark but they
never got any recognition.
Special Mention:When we launched all we knew was
that we have to make it a success and it
is the need of the time to focus on final content and deliverables
rather than just technology which is no good
if cannot deliver. And, overall we had just Rs. 2 lakh sponsorship
from American India Foundation. Yet
everybody (300 people attended and press gave wide spread publicity
including NDTV, TOI, HT, IE, The Week,
and scores of websites) thought we must have had spent huge amount
to make the kind of show that we made it
projected as at India International Center). Now there is no looking
back as the response was amazing.
Team members responsible for this innovation:Peter
Bruck, Chairman of World Summit Award, who
inspired and propagated that Content Gap, is a huge issue and must
be given attention; and courageously launched
world’s first movement for Content based recognition thus the
creation of World Summit Award.
Osama Manzar, Chairman of the Manthan Award, and Director of
Digital Empowerment Foundation, who believed
into the idea and took it further. His other efforts can be seen at
and so on.
Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, IIT Madras, who believed in the
works of Osama Manzar and immediately agreed to
provide many supports including his agreement to become a jury, and
various talks and meetings for guidance.
Prof. Anil Gupta, IIMA, who spared unexpected ample time for
this effort. He became jury, agreed to come
for the award function, and even took many of the awardees to next
level by personally guiding them.
Shankar Venkateswaran, Country Head, American India
Foundation, who alone, agreed to support financially,
and was so happy with the result that went ahead for supporting
Manthan Award 2006 with even bigger budget.
Many other respectable names like J Shankar of Azim Premji
Foundation, Prof. S. Sadagopan of IIT Bangalore,
and Ganesh Natrajan of Zensar Technologies; who all lended their
name and agreed to be part of the tedious jury
process and spent quality time.
Why and how Manthan Award is unique?
This innovative award called Manthan Award is unique because it
relates development with the latest technologies
like information communication technology. It is unique because it
focuses on content, knowledge and the finally
delivery and not so much on technology. It is unique because it
considers technology as enabler. It is unique
because it looks at practices and practitioners who use technology
innovatively to deliver the passionate services.
It is unique because it does not only look at hi fi
technologies but also as pervasive technologies as
telephone if it is used innovatively to deliver knowledge and
services for the benefit of the needy and deserving.
It is unique because it targets all kind of innovation in
almost all sectors. It is unique because it
offers recognition and platform whereby the winners get national as
well international platform. It is unique
because Manthan Award is partnered with world Summit Award which its
reach and network to 168 countries.
It is unique because it links emotion, passion,
innovativeness, professionalism and technology into one;
to reach the possibility where Indian grassroots reaches world
market to become economically strong.
Quantify the impact of Manthan Award.
- Improvement in life
There is no direct relations with the Manthan Award and the
improvement in life expectancy. But this example
cannot be ignored. Last year in the Manthan Award, one the awardees
was IndianBloodDonors.com who
started this website as one stop database of blood donors and
seekers with expensive network with hospitals;
any needy is only a call away from the group of blood he or she
needs. For five years the producers of this
initiative had been struggling to reach out and get some recognition
that they deserved. Now, after the award
their reach has increased and they are connecting to more people
thus a reason for many to be life saviour.
In fact, 5 years Pocha couple in Nagpur saw a death in front them
because of the non-availability of right
information about the blood and its group and thus they left
everything to start this initiative.
All they expect is to reach more and more people and save more and
- Impact on knowledge and education>
In fact, 2003-4 winner of Manthan Award in the e-Learning category
was Total Literacy of Tata which is all
about making adults literate in 40 hours through a CD based package.
Manthan Award has a category of award
such as e-Learning and e-Education. As mentioned earlier all the
recognitions are designed in such a way that
the winners should be those who use ICT applications innovatively
for grassroots impact.
- Improvement in the quality of life
One of the mottos of DEF and Manthan Award is to somehow link the
grassroots to the market through linkages and
it is known that ICT can play a huge role in this. The aim and
approach of Manthan Award is bottom up and not top
down. Manthan Award is more about the producers and ICT users at the
grassroots level to link them to national
and global platform and generate glocal content
Objectives of Manthan Award and have they been
Manthan Award is deployed to with following objectives
- Recognise the unrecognized across all sector of life and
business who would be using ICT
for delivering quality content
- Go beyond technology that is ICT (Information
Technology) and look at the delivery for which the
should be medium and enabler
- provide platform to the innovators for using ICT
- Propagate India’s IT leadership to the social and
- Make the world know the creative use of ICT is
the grassroots level
- Create a conglomerate and a community of Socio-ICT
Innovators and empower them with economic linkages
The objectives can be seen on its path to
the followings developments:
- Since all the winners of Manthan Award are
listed in the booklet
called “India’s Best e-Contents 2005”, this is being
benchmark and on the basis getting into various new
for their benefits.
- Widespread coverage of Manthan Award across all
trade, and other media, such as NDTV, Zee TV, Times Of
Hindustan Times, The Week, The New Indian Express,
i4d, indianNGOs.com, and scores of webzine, and
- One of the winners of Manthan Award, Sisu
was nominated for World Summit Award from India, got
final International winners. After that, their CD-based
product which audio-visual and meant for the rural
awareness, has already gone into many partnership to
in many other languages to reach the entire country.
Foundation, n-Logue, DEF are the organisations they have
into partnership to reach more linguistic audience.
People who have been impacted by
One of the winners of Manthan Award, Sisu Samrakshak,
who was nominated for World Summit Award from India,
got among the final International winners. After that,
their CD-based health product which audio-visual and
meant for the rural sector health awareness, has already
gone into many partnership to reproduce in many other
languages to reach the entire country. Nasscom
Foundation, n-Logue, DEF are the organisations they have got into
partnership to reach more linguistic audience.
Secondly, SRISTI of Ahmedabad has shown
intention to integrate IndianBloodDonors.com into their program,
especially for showing them as case study for developing
curriculum for Community Service Center’s Village
Thirdly, ILFS, who has been given the
responsibility to set up 100,000 Community Services Center across
the country, has agreed to have meeting with all the
Manthan Award winners to partner for CSCs so that quality
content creators could get the responsibility to set us
Partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation
by IIM Ahmedabad and NIIT’s eGovWorld.org portal
List the names and contact
numbers of at least 3 individuals who have been positively impacted by
this innovation. Briefly describe the impact on them.
- Rajan Varada, Project Head, Sisu Samrakshak,
UNICEF Office Hyderabad 
- Khusroo Pocha, IndianBloodDonors.com, Nagpur
- Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation, New
The impact has been already been discussed in replies
to the previous questions above.
How long has Manthan Award been
applied? How long is it expected to deliver gainful outcome?
The Manthan Award softly started in 2003-4, and
formally launched in 2005 with 8 categories, and as mentioned
in many of the sections above the gains it has accounted
for. So much so that Manthan Award 2006 has been launched
this year with 5 additional categories based on sheer
Manthan Award was launched with a prime focus on
content and final delivery through digital medium, and
its uniqueness to target grassroots audience for
creative use of ICT. The Manthan Award is here for a long haul
and impact, and would not become complacent until
India’s every village becomes an individual portal with
interactivity and ecommerce. India is extremely poor in
terms of its presence on the Internet which is the
universal medium. The Manthan Award would like to see
that each and every village, legislative constituency,
and parliamentary question go on the web, and become a
country with highest content on the universal medium
Have you attempted to scale it
up? If so, where and what have been the results? Do you plan to scale it
up? What magnitude is it expected to achieve in the next 5 years?
Yes (mentioned above)
It is being scaled up every now and then… First
in terms of outreach, press coverage, providing
international and national platform to innovators and
Second, targeting to get at least 300
nominations this year (2006).
Third, to create an environment of achieving at
least a quarter of a billion websites related to
India not only in English but also in local languages.
Describe the basic business of the
company, government body, NGO, or group: what does it do? What problem
does it solve? Or why is it important to people?
Digital Empowerment Foundation was formed in December
2002 as a Society registered under Society Registration
Act, to on linkages between ICT and Grassroots with
special focus on bottom up approach and not as much top down
approach. We also made clear that ICT does not only mean
technology and medium and application for delivery of
the final goal. For DEF, every component of ICT and its
combination are important. For DEF every effort which
overcomes the physical distance and offers solutions
empowering grassroots through information, knowledge,
communication, dissemination, technology, and so on are
the efforts worth focus and work for and towards.
However, in the initial 3 years DEF concentrated
mostly on research and assessment work so that it
could learn the ground realities. DEF is an organisation
which is growing organically, knowledgeably, and
sustainably and hope to bring India’s Rural sector to
the world map through digital medium.
How do you bring your product/
service to the market/ society?
Research; Assessment; outreach; events like seminars,
conferences, workshops, training, curriculum
development, awards & recognitions, and
How do you generate revenue?
DEF is never been funded institutionally. It works on
a project to project basis and always get funds for
the particular project, like in any other business,
except that the surplus money helps in those activities
that DEF initiated on its own without any external
List three aspirations of your
organisation for the next one year or so.
- To be recognised as the most influential
entities as far as the issues of content is concerned
- To get integrated all the Manthan Award winners
into the government of India’s movement of establishing
Community services Centers
- To develop in partnership with an MP a
constituency portal and make advocacy that each and
and MP constituency should have full fledged interactive
e-commerce enabled portal both for local and national
international audience, and thus enable to create
economy that trickle down to grassroots population.
List three aspirations of your
organisation for the next one year or so.
- Tie up with Dataquest for Dataquest eGov Champions
- Tie up with IIMA for developing supplementary
Social Entrepreneurship Curriculum and Training
Village Level Entrepreneurs for Community Service
- Tie up with NIIT who is developing eGovWorld
e-governance for the government of India under the
administration of NISG (National Institute of Smart
Governance) and funded by UNDP. DEF’s responsibility
develop all the content for the portal.
- Tie up with ILFS Education & Technology
Content Strategy and Content Partnership Development
Common Service Center Scheme of the government of
- Tie up with Government of Uttaranchal, Department
Information Technology of Government of India