It began as a national search in 2003-04, but widened to explore digital innovations in South Asia in 2008. The Manthan Awards’ efforts have been successful in contributing towards digital innovation programmes in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
In 2009, Sri Lanka hosted its own e-Swabhimani Awards, digging out 103 innovative nominations. Bangladesh is on the verge of holding its Jeeon e-Content Award in 2010 and Nepal is finalizing its strategies to hold a Nepali version of awards for inclusive digital solutions.
As the countdown for the 2009 Manthan Awards, scheduled for 18-19 December, begins, it’s worth a look at the statistics of the 380 nominations received this year, which tell a tale of sensible use of digital technology and content solutions across 13 categories.
Afghanistan and Pakistan, with just two nominations, show that everything is not well in those nations. Bangladesh has contributed 14 nominations. Nepal has sent seven nominations. The Sri Lankan thrust for meaningful technology has once again turned in a strong showing with a record 42 nominations and five winners. India had 293 entries and 36 winners.
Another 2009 notable is the power of the World Wide Web. It is heartening to find that nearly half of the 360 valid entries are Web-based and 47 are cross-media—which means they use multiple digital media platforms. There were 65 that used broadband, three blog entries, and 14 mobile solutions.
The power of e-governance and e-education and learning applications taking centre stage is visible with a substantial list of 89 and 61 nominations, respectively. There are 13 nominations in mobile content, 14 in electronic localisation, 23 in electronic culture and 13 in electronic environment.
One clear message emerges when you look at the nominations in totality—a multi-stakeholder involvement in the use of digital technology is needed for many of these ideas to evolve from just novelties and tech curiosities to widespread meaningful adoption. This is especially so in citizen journalism projects and vernacular websites with blogging and Web 2.0 features—some coming from unlikely places such as Chhattisgarh.
Stunning examples of this ability to implement digital inclusion at a mass, popular level are the Craft Revival Trust and the Gujarat Technology University. The former uses the Web and digital media to conserve and propagate our cultural heritage and endangered arts and craft. The latter conducted the Gujarat Common Entrance Test 2009 for admissions to management and computer applications courses online. Something even the IIMs are still to do successfully. Both were outstanding nominations for this year’s Manthan Awards.
Osama Manzar is founder and director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and chairman of the Manthan Award. He is also a member of the task force formed by the ministry of communication and information technology to give recommendations to boost the IT & ICT manufacturing industry.
Mint is a partner of the Manthan Award 2009.
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