New Delhi: Winners of the Manthan Award, South Asia and Asia Pacific, which seeks to encourage new initiatives using information and communications technology for social development, were announced on Saturday.
This year, the competition received 471 nominations from India and neighbours Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bhutan, and some from countries such as New Zealand. Of these, 221 projects were selected to compete in categories such as governance, health, education and learning, inclusion, infrastructure, travel and tourism, environment, community broadcasting, entertainment, agriculture and livelihood, localization, news and media, science and business and enterprise. Seventy-four of them made it to the finals, out of which 33 were declared winners in 16 categories.
Mint is the strategic partner of the award.
Category: e-Business and enterprise
Paywast was launched as a mobile-based social networking service in Afghanistan in January 2011. Its main feature is group messaging, which allows users to join and create groups and send messages to all group members. Mostly, their services are used by commercial entities to spread awareness for their products among the public. The aim behind the initiative is to create an environment where interactions for social and economic changes can take place in Afghanistan.
Paywast has become quite popular in Afghanistan among companies that want to advertise their products. Its users are mostly young, educated and middle-class people, a demographic most business entities want to target. The service was launched as a social media initiative, and as of July 2012 has connected more than a million users.
The services provided by Paywast include bank notifications (notification to customer on any deposit, withdrawal, etc.), mobile banking, interactive polls in television channels, childbirth registration, children immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases and supervised birth (launched as a pilot with the collaboration of the ministry of public health).
Promoter: Yan Murry
Category: e-Travel and tourism
Hornbillfestival.com has been created with the objective of promoting Nagaland as a tourist destination. Building on the popularity of the Hornbill festival, it provides tourists with practical tips and first-hand information to make their visits memorable.
The site was started in 2007, at a time when information on the festival was not easily found on the Internet and interested visitors had no credible source to rely on while planning their travel. Since then, Hornbillfestival.com has won the national tourism award as well as the eNorth East Award (2011) for tourism.
Last year, the website received visitors from about 85 countries and has assisted tourists by providing details of various events being held, information on how to reach the festival, how to apply for permits, travel guides, possible accommodations, etc. By coming up with innovative solutions such as home-stays (due to a paucity of hotels in the area), Hornbillfestivel.com has given a push to the local economy. What is equally significant is the role played by the portal in forming the Hornbill Conserve initiative and spreading awareness about the Hornbill bird, which faces possible extinction.
Product: Salute to second innings
Promoter: IMS Noida
Category: Community broadcasting
Second Innings Ko Salaam (Salute to second innings) is a weekend show hosted by senior citizens on the community radio station Salaam Namaste, which aims to help the elderly bond and connect with the community. The three-year-old radio station believes in proving a platform to those whom it believes are unheard and voiceless. The station works with 50-60 senior citizens for the show and has even formed a senior citizens club.
Station head Barsha Chabaria says Salaam Namaste aims to make a difference in the society, and provide senior citizens and people living in old-age homes some form of engagement.
Product: CLT e-Patashale
Promoter: Children’s Lovecastles Trust
Category: e-Education and learning
CLT e-Patashale Live online teaching is an initiative to help rural schools that do not have access to qualified teachers. Distance-learning for rural schools was launched in January 2011 and the CLT e-Patashale curricula-based e-content in 2006.
The project connects teachers from a CLT hub to several remote classrooms simultaneously. As these are live teaching sessions, the teachers are able to address problems better. The content taught is localized, and covers all subjects for the state board syllabus.
There is an exhaustive use of multimedia in the entire process. Teachers connect to remote classrooms simultaneously using the Cisco WebEx platform. Teachers also use display boards and other tools, and the sessions are quite interactive.
CLT India has been conducting distance-learning programme for 42 classrooms, covering classes V to X, since March 2011. Only five schools are handled at a time to ensure proper attention to all students.
Product: BASIX convenience outlets under common service centres scheme
Promoter: Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance Ltd (BASIX)
The common service centres (CSC) scheme was launched as part of a national e-governance plan (NeGP). It aims to provide countrywide e-governance by bringing government services to citizens. BASIX launched the scheme in Tripura by setting up 145 centres. The services offered at these centres include online computer training, tele-homeopathy services, livelihood promotion services, agricultural advice, mushroom cultivation, training programmes, issuance of activity-based small loans, and online ticket bookings. Another important service provided is banking; villagers can access financial services through State Bank of India kiosks.
BASIX convenience outlets (BCO) are also equipped with IT infrastructure (Internet, printer, scanner and digital webcam) and provide office infrastructure such as table, chair, display board, banners and marketing materials. The services offered by the BCOs and CSCs are at government-approved rates and are set up in panchayat premises.
Product: MPOnline—online assessment examinations for patwari recruitments
Promoter: MPOnline Ltd
A joint venture between the government of Madhya Pradesh and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, MPOnline—online assessment examinations for patwari (revenue officers) recruitments was created to ensure an efficient and transparent recruitment process in various districts of Madhya Pradesh. While the earlier system of recruitment was time-consuming and strife with allegations of corruption, the online model has proved to be simpler, quicker and has helped the department regain the trust of the applicants.
Through this system, 86,000 candidates took the examination over a period of three days (with 31,000 appearing in a single day) and were provided their scores at the end of the exam. Subsequently, the merit list was prepared and released on the MPOnline portal.
It, thus, not only allowed the department to carry out its day-to-day duties even during the recruitment process but made it simpler to verify the credibility of the candidates before they appeared for the examination.
The project has been implemented as a public-private partnership venture with no initial costs being incurred by the state. The revenue is to be generated by making the users bear the costs of the services they avail on the MPOnline portal (though some departments opted for bearing the costs themselves).