Frequently Asked 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 business viable.

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 deliverables.

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 implementation process?

  1. 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.
  2. 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 reach.
  3. 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 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 more live
  • 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 achieved?

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 Communication Technology) and look at the delivery for which the technology should be medium and enabler
  • provide platform to the innovators for using ICT creatively and effectively
  • Propagate India’s IT leadership to the social and development sector
  • Make the world know the creative use of ICT is happening at the grassroots level
  • Create a conglomerate and a community of Socio-ICT Innovators and empower them with economic linkages and benefits.

The objectives can be seen on its path to achievements from 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 treated as benchmark and on the basis getting into various new partnerships for their benefits.
  • Widespread coverage of Manthan Award across all national, trade, and other media, such as NDTV, Zee TV, Times Of India, Hindustan Times, The Week, The New Indian Express, Dataquest, i4d,, and scores of webzine, and websites.
  • 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.

People who have been impacted by Manthan Award?

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 into their program, especially for showing them as case study for developing curriculum for Community Service Center’s Village level Entrepreneurs.

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 CSCs.

Partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation by IIM Ahmedabad and NIIT’s portal on e-Governance.

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.

  1.  Rajan Varada, Project Head, Sisu Samrakshak, UNICEF Office Hyderabad [9849610442]
  2. Khusroo Pocha,, Nagpur [9823278848]
  3. Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi [9810042862]

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 demand.

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 called Internet.

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 champions.

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 interventions

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 funding.

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 and nominees into the government of India’s movement of establishing Community services Centers
  • To develop in partnership with an MP a parliamentary constituency portal and make advocacy that each and every MLA and MP constituency should have full fledged interactive and e-commerce enabled portal both for local and national and international audience, and thus enable to create in-bound 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 Award
  • Tie up with IIMA for developing supplementary content for Social Entrepreneurship Curriculum and Training manuals for Village Level Entrepreneurs for Community Service Centers
  • Tie up with NIIT who is developing eGovWorld portal on e-governance for the government of India under the administration of NISG (National Institute of Smart Governance) and funded by UNDP. DEF’s responsibility is to develop all the content for the portal.
  • Tie up with ILFS Education & Technology Services for Content Strategy and Content Partnership Development vis-à-vis Common Service Center Scheme of the government of India.
  • Tie up with Government of Uttaranchal, Department of Information Technology of Government of India


• International Conference
• Manthan-AIF Award 2006
• Manthan-AIF Mission
• Inspiring the information
• Objective
• Innovation comes from the
• Patrons
• Manthan Award – From UN
  to World Summit Award
• Partners
• Manthan-AIF Award offer
• Why Manthan-AIF Award?
• Important Dates
• Credentials & Appreciations
• Press Clippings
• Sponsorship Details
• Category Sponsors
• Annexure I
• Annexure 2
• Message from the WSA
• Manthan-AIF Award 2006
  Grand Jury (Download pdf)
• Manthan-AIF Award 2006
  Grand Jury (Download doc)
• Manthan-AIF Jury @ Glance
• Manthan Award 2005
• Manthan Award 2005
• India's Best e-Content
  2005 (Download PDF file)
• Manthan Award 2003
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