The Grand Jury for the 4th edition of the Social Media for Empowerment Awards 2017 was successfully held at The Hill Fort Kesroli – Neemrana Hotels on 17th-18th March 2017. This year we received 162 good nominations across 09 categories. The virtual Jury members managed to filter 123 valid entries to 71 for the final evaluation by the Grand Jury. A panel of 12 Jury members looked into the filtered nominations.

The list of Winners and Special Mentions will be revealed on stage at the 4th Social Media for Empowerment Awards 2017 at India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road on April 29, 2017.


Osama-ManzarOsama Manzar
Founder & Director
Digital Empowerment Foundation

Chairman of the eNGO Challenge, mBillionth Awards, Manthan Awards and Social Media for Empowerment Awards, Osama Manzar is a convert social entrepreneur, inspiring speaker, mentor and believer. Osama founded Digital Empowerment Foundation with the objective that there should be universal digital literacy and digital access to all to overcome information gap and parity and help build equitable society. He is a Member, Working Group, Internet Proliferation & Governance for Ministry of Communication & IT and was a Member, Task Force on Growth of IT, ITES & Electronics HW Manufacturing Industry, Ministry of Communication & IT, India. He is also a member of the Advisory Board for National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) of the Universal Service Obligation Fund under the Indian Department of Telecom. At the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Manzar is a member of the Screening Committee for the Community Radio Licensing. Manzar sits on the Boards of the World Summit Award, the Society for Labour & Development, Ibtada, the Association of Progressive Communication, ProtoVillage, and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI). A British Chevening Fellow of 2002, Manzar has authored NetCh@kra: 15 Years of Internet in India. Other titles by him include e-Content: Voices from the Ground; Internet Economy of India; India’s Best e-Contents, and Development & Digital Inclusion. He writes a weekly column in the Mint and Hindustan, and has previously written columns for Gaon Connection. A physics graduate, Manzar has a post-graduate diploma in Journalism and is credited for covering at least 200 ICTD case studies in India and South Asia. Fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and Persian, Manzar tweets @osamamanzar.

MeinardusDr. Ronald Meinardus
Regional Director South Asia,
Friedrich Naumann Foundation

Before joining the Regional Office in New Delhi in 2014, Dr. Ronald Meinardus served the Foundation in that position at the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in Cairo, Egypt for seven years. Earlier, he represented the Foundation in Greece, South Korea and the Philippines. A journalist by profession, Dr. Meinardus is also a political commentator and blogger and enjoys writing about developments in the region and beyond.

NatashaNatasha Badhwar
Columnist and Filmmaker

Natasha Badhwar is a writer, filmmaker and media trainer. She is also co-owner of the online fashion brand, Ochre Sky. Natasha writes a popular column, “My Daughters’ Mum” for Mint Lounge, where she documents contemporary family and relationships in today’s socio-political landscape in a candid and personal style. An independent media professional, Ms. Badhwar is a content and communications consultant with Oxfam India, Water Aid, Edelman and Sheroes. She was also India’s first female news videographer in 1995 and has worked with NDTV for 13 years where she was Vice President, Training and Development in 2007. She takes Documentary film-making and Videojournalism workshops at Delhi University, Centre for Science and Environment and the Express Institute of Media Studies.

MaliniMalini Gupta
Program Director,
RBS Foundation India

At present Malini is working with Royal Bank of Scotland as Vice President, RBS Foundation. Currently responsible forCoordination and overall management of RBSFI CSR interventions, including strategy, financial and programmatic parameters, innovations, staff management, compliance, capacity building, stakeholder management and RBS staff engagement in CSR; in 20 projects across 8 states.

Malini is a competent development professional with 24 years of experience in grass roots, national and international rural and social development, including strategic partnership development, strategy design and dissemination, institution building,organisation development, programme management, programme finance, communications and CSR.

SameeraSameera Jayawardena
Program Manager
ICT Agency of Sri Lanka

Sameera has been working in the ICT field for past nine years and engaged in different areas of e-Development such as ICT capacity building, e-Government, Rural ICT development etc. at national level in Sri Lanka. Obtained his Bachelors Degree with Honours in Computing and Information Systems from London Metropolitan University, UK in 2005 and Masters in Management (SJP) in 2012 with modules on IT Project Management and Human Resources Management.

He privileged with holding key positions within his younger days of his career.Managing the first ever full fledged Computer Literacy Initiative of Sri Lanka, “eDiriya” was one of his flagship projects. Over 45,000 rural youths have benifited through this project.

Sameera was given the responsibility of coordination and managing e-Government policy of Sri Lanka since 2011. He also managed the review process of the formulation of new e-Government policy and served in the e-Government policy review committee (2012) too. He has been elected as an executive council member of the Computer Society of Sri Lanka. He was assigned to manage the National e-Government strategy formulation project for the next e-Govrnment e-Development phase for Sri Lanka at age 31.

Saikat1Saikat Datta
The Centre for Internet and Society

Saikat Datta is an award winning journalist for over 20 years as an editor and an investigative reporter with several news organisations. He has been a defence correspondent with The Indian Express, an assistant editor with the Outlook magazine, Resident Editor with DNA, member of the Editorial Board with Zee News and Editor (National Security) with Hindustan Times.

Saikat’s investigative reporting has been awarded the International Press Institute award (2007), the Jagan Phadnis Memorial award (2008) and the National RTI award for investigative journalism (2010).

He is also the author of India’s Special Forces (2013), a seminal book on the history and the future of India’s special operations capabilities.He writes regularly in various publications and his research papers have been published by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) and the National Security Guards (NSG), among others. He regularly conducts training sessions on hostage rescue operations for Mumbai Police’s crack anti-terrorism outfit, Force One. His core areas of research are around counter-terrorism, intelligence, cybersecurity and the use of special forces in strategic roles.

He has also worked for two years in the corporate sector as Vice President and Head of De-risking Strategies for Reliance Industries, working on cybersecurity and counter terrorism projects.

He is currently a Consulting Editor, Director with the Centre for Internet & Society and a consultant on cybersecurity with IIM, Bangalore. He is also a senior fellow with the Internet Democracy Project and a Visiting Fellow with the Observer Research Foundation’s National Security programme.

RinchenRinchen Dorji
Ministry of Information & Communication

Rinchen Dorji is the Director, Department of Information and Media, MoIC, Bhutan.Before joining MOIC, Dorji was the Director of Intellectual Property Division, MoEA for 4 years and was the Chief Industries Officer of MSME Division, Department Of Cottage & Small Industry, MoEA from 2009 till 2012.

Dorji has Masters degree in Economics and he is a member of the RCSC Selection Interview panel and member of the Civil Service Common Examination (CSCE) Review Committee. He has Co-authored the book “How to start a Business in Bhutan”, designed a “Basic Bookkeeping manual” for the Department of Revenue and Customs

He has been a part of Department of Industry – Small Business Resource Center, Entrepreneurship Promotion Center and has organized and implemented following vocational skills training programmes in different part of the country.

RaminderRaminder Singh Rekhi
“National Rural Livelihood Mission,
Ministry of Rural Development

Raminder Singh Rekhi has a rich experience of over 27 years in retail, agri processing, artisanal handicraft and the government sector, especially in understanding value chains from production to the market levels. November 2014 onwards, Rekhi has been working with the National Rural Livelihood Mission under the Ministry of Rural Development as the National Mission Managar/Lead (Non-Farm Livelihoods). In his role, Rekhi helps plan and operationalise schemes for SHGs engaged in non-farming related livelihoods. He is also looking after operationalising a Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme that aims to support 85,000 rural entreprenerus across 47 blocks in 17 states. Prior to joining the NRLM project, Rekhi has been the CEO of Aadhaar Wholesale Trading and Distribution Ltd and the Industry Crafts Pvt Ltd. He has also been a Consultant to the Khadi and Village Industries Commission of the Asian Development Bank project, and has held various other key positions in various sectors and organisations.

MaheshMahesh Venkateswaran
Lead – Industry Partnerships & SIMO Project.
National Skill Development Corporation”

Mahesh Venkateswaran works with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), part of the Government’s Skill India mission. He leads industry partnerships to strengthen the ecosystem through greenfield/brownfield projects across various sectors and mobilize CSR contributions for skill development projects. He also setup and led the Innovation fund focused on early stage funding for entities addressing skill development challenges until recently. Prior to joining NSDC, Mahesh led a 400+ strong team working on integrated rural development projects and social enterprises focused on employment, agriculture and dairy sector based in Jharkhand. An engineer from the 2001 batch of Vellore Institute of Technology, he has a master’s degree from the US and worked in research and consulting till 2009.

NakulNakul Shenoy
The Mind Reader
Beyond Magic

With his imagination kindled at age five by ‘Mandrake The Magician’ comic books, Nakul first took stage as a 15-year-old entertaining large gatherings with his magical shows. Two decades later, this expert magician and hypnotist enthrals audiences like few others can, and progresses along in his self-professed dream to be “a real-life Mandrake”.

The only Indian to be awarded memberships to the Psychic Entertainers Association (USA) and the British Society of Psychic Entertainers (UK), Nakul is a Wizards Award member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (USA). He has also held memberships to the American Hypnosis Association (USA), The Magic Circle (London), and the International Magicians Society (USA), among many other accolades.

Having influenced thousands of business leaders, high achievers, and celebrities through his shows around the world, Nakul counts entertaining Azim Premji and opening for Tony Buzan among his most coveted performances till date. When not travelling in and out of airports, Nakul lives with his wife and three kids in Bangalore, India. A compulsive reader of books “on every topic under the Sun and beyond”, he haunts Twitter as @nakulshenoy.

RamanRaman Kalyanakrishnan
TATA Trusts

Raman has been part of the Tata Trusts since January 2016. He comes with more than 21 years of industry experience in sectors of Telecom, Technology and Retail. He has wide exposure in the areas of Strategic Planning, Operations, Sales and Marketing.
Prior to joining the Tata Trusts he was heading the Practice of Technology & Social Sector at the consulting firm, Tata Strategic Management Group. As part of the Consulting work in Social Sector at Tata Strategic Management Group he has worked with clients such as Unicef, Tata Trusts, Save the Children Foundation to help build intervention strategies that leverage technology for scaled up benefits.
In the current profile he is responsible for interventions in increasing digital literacy, providing digital based livelihoods, providing access to curated content and innovative outreach using community media.
He has done his Mechanical Engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy and Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies from SPJIMR, Mumbai.

SaloniSaloni Malhotra
Founder and Director,
DesiCrew Solutions

Saloni is currently working on building the Sushrat Foundation, a healthcare NGO that aims to improve efficiency in government hospitals. Saloni is also Founder and Director of DesiCrew Solutions and is former Vice President of Paytm.

Saloni founded DesiCrew, a socially motivated business process outsourcing company with a double bottom line (financial and social development), DesiCrew connects global clients with low cost back office centres in rural India, she stepped down as a CEO in March 2012 but continues to participate on board.. She also co-founded Safecity, a citizen’s initiative platform to share information on sexual abuse in India..

She is an engineer from Pune University and completed a one year academic scholarship program on social and digital innovation from Lund University. Saloni began her career with Dentsu WebChutney. She is a Fellow of the Famous V Class of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.Aspire Circle Fellow.

She is a Board Member Goonj, a not for profit that converts waste to useful resource, Mentor Traveller Kids, a young start-up that creates edu-taiment toys for 7-12 yrs olds and Advisor to Start Up!, a social business incubator in Delhi.

DeepakDeepak Maheshwari
Government Affairs – India, Symantec

Deepak Maheshwari heads Government Affairs in India for Symantec and acts as the nodal point on policy, legislation and regulation. A seasoned public policy professional, he has a keen interest in the interplay of technological innovation with socio-economic development. An oft-invited speaker and panelist, his articles, opinions and reviews have been widely published. He is a charter member of the IEEE Experts in Technology & Policy and vice chair of BSA. He served as elected secretary for ISP Association of India (ISPAI) for two consecutive terms, co-founded the National Internet eXchange of India (NIXI) and helped form the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). He has previously worked with Microsoft, MasterCard, Sify & HCL. He graduated in engineering from Indian Institute of Technology and also has a law degree.