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D-Lib Magazine
November 2006

Volume 12 Number 11

ISSN 1082-9873

E-Content Awards

An Initiative for Bridging the Digital Divide in India and Worldwide


Mangala Hirwade
Shivaji Science College
Congress Nagar, Nagpur

D. Rajyalakshmi
Reader and Head
DLIS, RTM Nagpur University

Red Line


1. Introduction

The term digital divide refers to the socio-economic difference between communities with regard to their access to computers and the Internet. The term also refers to gaps between groups in their ability to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) effectively, due to users' differing literacy and technical skills, and the gap in availability of quality and useful digital content. To develop e-information literacy and technical skills, governments in most countries have already initiated various schemes to deal with the digital divide. A truly Global Information Society would be one in which all persons, without distinction, are empowered freely to create, receive, share and utilize information and knowledge for their economic, social, cultural and political development. The creation of e-Content is imperative for providing quicker access to rich, diverse sources of content and for the creation of the Global Information Society. Bridging the digital divide also means making sure that people, wherever they may live, can obtain access to digital content that is localized, culturally relevant and available for use. Producing and distributing diverse and original digital content is thus of paramount importance if citizens are enabled to bridge the digital divide [1].

Technology by itself does not inspire but content does. There cannot be an interesting Information Society without access to high quality content. Global content, however, first relies on the creation and maintenance of local content. Local content thus requires local producers who are creative and innovative. A Global Information Society cannot be developed without the work of highly motivated individuals who move beyond the ordinary and secure sustainable development in their region through their use of new media and information communication technologies.

e-Content in India consists primarily of content on the World Wide Web. In fact, the Internet has been the most effective motivational medium for publicizing content, and it has attracted a whole new generation who use web as a medium of information dissemination and global reach. To promote creation of e-Content, awards have been initiated at international and national levels. Two of these, the World Summit Award at the international level and Manthan e-Content award within India, are discussed in detail in the present article.

2. World Summit Award

The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global initiative to select and promote the world's best in e-content and creativity. WSA is held within the framework of, and in cooperation with, the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). WSA places its emphasis on cultural diversity and identity, the creation of varied information content and the digitalization of educational, scientific and cultural heritage. The award aims not only to make the benefits of the new Information Society accessible and meaningful for all humanity, but in particular attempts to raise public awareness and give deserved public recognition to the highest quality e-Content produced worldwide. WSA strongly encourages openness towards different cultures and supports the exchange of local best practice examples by and within its international network. WSA sees the bridging of the digital divide and narrowing of the content gap as its overall goal. The categories for the award are: e-Learning, e-Culture, e-Science, e-Government, e-Health, e-Business, e-Entertainment, and e-Inclusion.

In 2003, there was a huge response to the award, and nominations were received from 130 countries. In 2005, the number of participating countries increased to 168. To raise the awareness of the importance of outstanding e-Content in the development of a Global Information Society, WSA organizes road shows, exhibitions, showcase events, workshops, lectures and keynote speeches in different countries [2].

2.1 World Summit Award 2003

Slightly more than 800 of the world's best examples of e-Content and creativity were received from the 130 participating countries that competed for the award in 2003. Of the 40 WSA 2003 awards presented in eight categories, TeleDoc, a Jiva initiative, earned an award in the e-Health category, and the other Indian entry to win an award that year was n-Logue Communications, a company promoted by IIT Madras' TeNet Group, which offers low-cost Internet and telecommunications services in rural areas.

2.2 World Summit Award 2005

Table 1 shows the list of winners of WSA 2005. Forty projects (5 from each category) were selected for the Best e-Content award. India earned an award for the project 'Sisu Samarakshak' in the e-Health category.

Table 1: List of winners of WSA 2005

Sr. No. Category Country E-content
1 e-Culture Arab Republic of Egypt Eternal Egypt
French Republic Paris, a Roman City
Republic of Armenia Aram Khachaturian: Work and Life
Russian Federation The Victors: Soldiers of the Great War
United States of America Lakota Winter Counts
2 e-Entertainment Argentina
Austria Gullivers World – a Multimedia Theatre
Czech Republic Mole's Trip
Iceland DVD-Kids
United Kingdom BBC One Music
3 e-Health Australia Underworld
Canada Contraception Awareness Project
Czech Republic Internet Access to Patient Health Care Info
India Sisu Samarakshak
United States of America Medline Plus
4 e-Science China Virtual Science Museums of China
France Edumedia
Japan JST Virtual Science Center
United Kingdom Cape Farewell
5 e-Business China Tianfu Agriculture Information Network
Morocco Artisanal Shopping
Tunisia WebTelegram
United Arab Emirates Jotun Professionals Network – UAE
6 e-Government Australia Brisbane City Council Green Home
Bahrain eVisas
Netherlands Municipality Meeting Online
United Kingdom Directgov
7 e-Inclusion Bahrain Womengateway
Canada DeafPlanet
France Children@Hospital
Guatemala Using ICTs for social inclusion
Kuwait Web Content Translation Engine
8 e-Learning Argentina Digital Literacy Program (PAD)
Brazil E-Blocks
Croatia Nature Park Kopacki rit
Romania Advanced e-Learning Objects
United Kingdom Stagework

Table 2, which displays awards by country, shows that the United Kingdom led in winning awards, with four projects in various categories, and Canada was next, with three award-winning projects.

Table 2: Analysis of WSA 2005 by country

Sr. No. Country No. of winning
1 United Kingdom 4
2 Canada 3
3 Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, France and
United States of America
2 each
4 Arab Republic of Egypt, Austria, Brazil, French Republic, Guatemala, Ireland, India, Iceland, Japan, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, Republic of Armenia, Romania, Russian Federation, Tunisia, UAE 1 each

3. Manthan Award

As global content always relies first on the availability of local content, WSA participating countries also initiated national e-Content awards. The winners of the national awards in each category automatically are qualified for the WSA contest, representing their respective countries. On October 1, 2004, the Digital Empowerment Foundation, a Delhi-based Non-Governmental Organization, and World Summit Award, in partnership with Planet Finance India, launched 'The Manthan Award' to recognize and award the best e-Content practices in India. The Manthan Award is the first of its kind in India, which emphasizes the importance of content in bridging the ever-widening digital divide. The categories for the award are the same categories as the WSA (e-Learning, e-Culture, e-Science, e-Government, e-Health, e-Business, e-Entertainment, and e-Inclusion). However, for the Manthan Award 2006, a few more categories were added, viz.: e-Education, e-News, e-Localization, and e-Environment, along with two special categories: e-Youth, in which youth are involved in offering innovative ideas, application, and initiatives for empowering the masses; and M-Content, which deals with new content applications and innovative content that supplements the strength of mobile devices [3].

3.1 Manthan 2003

The Indian winners in Manthan 2003 in various categories that were nominated for WSA 2003 were:

Table 3: Manthan 2003 winners

Sr. No. Categories Indian Nominations
1 E-Learning Total Literacy by TCS
2 E-Culture NIITs The hole in the wall
3 E-Governance E-Seva, Andhra Pradesh
4 E-Entertainment Contest 2 Win
5 E-Inclusion N-Logue
6 E-Health TeleDoc
7 E-Science Simputer
8 Ebiz e-Choupal

Of these eight Indian projects, two also earned WSA 2003 awards: N-Logue (from E-Inclusion category) and TeleDoc (from E-Health category).

3.2 Manthan 2005

Through the Manthan Award, the Digital Empowerment Foundation is trying to discover how much e-Content is being generated in India. However, the fact is that there is very little content being generated in India (in either local languages or in English); the situation is not good. Osama Manzar, Chairman, Manthan Award, in his opening speech rightly said, 'The mission of the Award is to bridge the content gap by showcasing India's best e-Content practices. The objective is to create an information rich society where everyone, irrespective of caste, religion, race, region, gender, etc., is empowered to create, receive, share and utilize information and knowledge for their economic, social, cultural and political up-liftment and development. The need of the hour is to motivate those in content practices at the lower level in small towns and cities' [4].

For the Manthan 2005 Award, 104 nominations were received from every corner of the country, and 95 were found valid for evaluation. Table 4 shows distribution of nominations by state.

Table 4: Distribution of nominations for Manthan 2005 by state

Sr. No. Name of the State No. of valid nominations Percentage
1 Delhi 20 21.05
2 Maharashtra 14 14.74
3 Karnataka 13 13.68
4 Gujarat 9 9.47
5 Punjab 5 5.26
6 Tamil Nadu 5 5.26
7 Andhra Pradesh 4 4.21
8 Haryana 4 4.21
9 Utta Pradesh 4 4.21
10 Assam 2 2.11
11 Bihar 2 2.11
12 Kerala 2 2.11
13 Pondicherry 2 2.11
14 Rajasthan 2 2.11
15 Himachal Pradesh 1 1.05
16 Meghalaya 1 1.05
17 Nagaland 1 1.05
18 Orissa 1 1.05
19 Tripura 1 1.05
20 Uttaranchal 1 1.05
21 West Bengal 1 1.05
  Total 95 100

It has been observed that nominations were received from 21 states of the country. The majority of nominations were received from Delhi, i.e., 21.5 percent, followed by Maharashtra with 14.74 percent.

Table 5 shows the distribution of nominations by category for Manthan 2005. The e-Governance category received the maximum of 27.37 percent nominations closely followed by E-Learning with 26.32 percent nominations.

Table 5: Distribution of nominations for Manthan 2005 by category

Sr. No. Category No. of valid nominations Percentage
1 e-Governance 26 27.37
2 e-Learning 25 26.32
3 e-Inclusion 19 20
4 e-Health 10 10.53
5 e-Culture 9 9.47
6 e-Business 4 4.21
7 e-Entertainment 1 1.05
8 e-Science 1 1.05
  Total 95 100

Table 6 shows the distribution of Manthan 2005 nominations by institution. Private companies nominated 31 percent of the projects whereas the government body nominated 26 percent of the initiatives for the Manthan Award. National and International NGOs represented 21 percent of the nominations. Academic institutions comprised 11 percent of the nominations for the award, and the rest were joint initiatives.

Table 6: Distribution of nominations for Manthan 2005 by institution

Sr. No. Type of Institution Percentage
1 Private Companies 31
2 Government bodies 26
3 National and International NGOs 21
4 Academic Institutions 11
5 Joint Initiatives 11
  Total 100

Table 7 illustrates the list of winners of Manthan 2005. Overall, 26 projects were declared as winners within the eight categories [5].

Table 7: Category wise Winners of Manthan 2005

Sr. No. Category State E-content
1 e-Culture Gujarat Honeybee Network
Karnataka NUDI – The Kannada script-enabling software
2 e-Entertainment Delhi World Cup Cricket
3 e-Health Andhra Pradesh Sisu Samrakshak
Rajasthan Helpline on HIV/AIDS
4 e-Science Delhi Electrophoresis e-Lab
5 e-Business Gujarat Automatic Milk Collection System
Andhra Pradesh PlantersNet – ITC
6 e-Government Uttar Pradesh NISANI – National Identity Card
Delhi e-Governance infrastructure for globalized Indian agriculture
Special Mention Gujarat State-Wide Attention on public Grievance by Application of Technology
Himachal Pradesh E-VIKAS Government to citizen interface
Andhra Pradesh E-Cops
7 e-Inclusion Maharashtra aAQUA: Almost All Questions Answered
Uttar Pradesh VAACHAK – Text to speech software for Indian languages
Pondicherry Dissemination of animal health – RGCVAS
Special Mention Delhi Save the Girl Child
Delhi Display India Network
8 e-Learning Maharashtra C-GAP Course – Self learning key
Maharashtra Learning Objects – Creating a Knowledge Utility
Karnataka Chukki Chinna interactive radio instruction programme
Special Mention Pondicherry BookBox
Karnataka Adventus Learning Management


Table 8: Distribution of Winners of Manthan 2005 by State

Sr. No. State Winning Projects Percentage
1 Delhi 5 19.22
2 Maharashtra 5 19.22
3 Karnataka 4 15.39
4 Andhra Pradesh 3 11.54
5 Gujarat 3 11.54
6 Pondicherry 3 11.54
7 Rajasthan 1 03.85
8 Kerala 1 03.85
9 Himachal Pradesh 1 03.85
  Total 26 100

It can be observed from Table 8 that Delhi and Maharashtra share the first position with five award-winning projects each, followed by Karnataka with four.

4. Constructive suggestions for the Mathan Award

  • India is one of the largest democracies and the second most populous country in the world, with a civilization more than 5000 years old. The cultural diversity of India is marked by its 25 states and 7 union territories, and by having 24 chief Indian languages, each spoken by a million or more people, along with numerous other languages and dialects. The majority of the population speaks in their local language rather than in English. Content providers in India must make sure that e-Content is provided in local languages so that the content is able to carry the right messages and create knowledge.
  • Instead of being limited to the Internet as a medium, other more common electronic media, such as community radio, mobile phones and other oral and visual media, can be adopted for sharing content and knowledge, as in many cases content users are illiterate or do not have access to the World Wide Web.
  • Various content possibilities also should be explored, such that disabled people, for example, can also access information and knowledge.
  • Only 11 percent of the initiatives submitted for Manthan 2005 were from academic institutions in India. The scholarly community, including students should be motivated to participate in e-Content competitions.
  • It has been observed that nominations were not received from all states in India (such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Goa). Efforts should be made to motivate these states through road shows, exhibitions, lectures, etc.
  • It has been observed that Indian states are lagging behind other countries in submitting nominations in categories like e-Entertainment, e-Science and e-Business. Authorities should initiate efforts in this direction also.

5. Conclusion

E-content award initiatives certainly motivate content creators to extend the benefits of IT to the common man. By these constructive efforts, it is hoped that the digital divide can instead evolve into a digital opportunity for many in near future.


1. Digital divide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <>. Accessed on 2 November 2006

2. World Summit Award <>. Accessed on 2 November 2006

3. The Manthan Award: India's best e-Content Practices <>. Accessed on 2 November 2006

4. India's Best e-Content 2005: The Manthan Award <>. Accessed on 2 November 2006

5. The Manthan Awards Bridging the Content Gap: Manthan e-Content award <>. Accessed on 2 November 2006

Copyright © 2006 Mangala Hirwade and D. Rajyalakshmi

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