YourStory.in’s Exclusive with Rita Soni, CEO NASSCOM Foundation

By Team YS|5th Sep 2011
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In this exclusive interview with YourStory.in, Rita talks about the vision behind NASSCOM Social Innovation Honors (NSIH) and the scope of ICT innovation in the social sector.Tell us about NASSCOM Social Innovation Honors(NSIH). What is the vision behind launching this platform for the social sector in India?

NSIH was started four years ago. The NASSCOM foundation wanted to create a platform to recognize technology being used for social and environmental good. After having worked with the industry for over 10 years, we thought that it would be a very useful thing to recognize not just the NGOs out there, but also the Government initiatives, socialenterprises and initiatives led by individuals. And, in addition to the recognition itself, one of our core objectives is to publicize these ideas and innovations to our member companies; from our perspective of best practices sharing, investment potential, and partnering potential. We wanted to build a collaboration platform for greater good. The idea behind NSIH is that technology has the ability to bring forth social change in a way that no other tool can.

What benefits does NSIH offer? And, how do you see the adoption of ICT evolve in the social sector in India?

Apart from the usual benefits that come from any awards, NSIH provides social entrepreneurs with a lot of exposure to other entrepreneurs. NSIH enables mentoring opportunities for the social entrepreneurs. NSIH also provides exposure to potential investments.

We at NASSCOM Foundation have a software & hardware donation program for nonprofits, we have a sharing platform where we connect our member companies to nonprofits, so that the nonprofits can benefit from technology that our member companies offer. We also have a specific technology training program that targets Government officials and nonprofit staff.

How do you measure impact at NSIH?

We at NSIH believe in enabling projects that can create long lasting impact. Last year, out of the 21 listed projects, 5 projects got an opportunity to explore funding via exposure to a extremely prominent jury. So for us, that is impact!

What is new at NSIH this year?

We are focussing a lot on outreach this year. We have partnered with equally innovative organizations that are also using technology in great ways to bring in change. We have also created workshops around specific issues like writing a business plan, marketing & communications etc. This is the first year that we have used online application for NSIH.

Can you share with us some of the ICT led social innovations that impressed you?

I really happen to buy the simplicity of some of the initiatives chosen by NSIH, and the tremendous impact they have been able to make. One specific case that I would like to talk about is the Same Language Subtitling in local languages on TV programmes that are popularly watched. This led to increase in literacy, and a lot of school going children are actually doing better because of the same language subtitling. I think this is a pretty neat example of the use of technology for change. Especially when we talk of ICT, people instantly think of mobiles and computers. Here the technology has been applied to television, which has much more penetration as when compared to mobiles and computers.

So Rita, is there anything else that you want to share with the readers of YourStory.in?

The main thing that I want to say to the readers of YourStory.in is that there is innovation happening in every corner of this country. We at NSIH want to reach out to all those innovations. Our objective is to not just work with the 7 final category winners, but also to be real endorsers for the innovative use of technology towards a better planet and better improved social conditions.

We at YourStory.in appreciate the vision of NSIH, and wish them good luck for their 2012 edition. Do apply for the NASSCOM Social Innovation Honours 2012.

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