On Monday 25 October, we announced that Satish Babu is the recipient of the 2021 Dr. Tarek Kamel Award for Capacity Building. Satish has been recognized for his exceptional efforts promoting Internet governance and capacity building at the local, regional, and global levels. He also chairs the Asian, Australasian, and Pacific Islands Regional At-Large Organization (APRALO).
We recently spoke with Satish to discuss his experience in Internet governance and involvement with capacity building within the ICANN community.
Interview with Satish Babu, 2021 Dr. Tarek Kamel Award for Capacity Building Recipient
How did you feel when you learned that you were this year's recipient of the Dr. Tarek Kamel Award, and what does the award mean to you?
Satish: My first response was overwhelming elation at being recognized with the highest award for capacity building in Internet governance from a preeminent global organization. The next feeling I had was that through this award, ICANN was recognizing not just me, but also numerous colleagues that I had worked with in multiple capacity building initiatives.
You founded the India School on Internet Governance and you help build capacity on a local, regional, and global scale. Tell us about one of the success stories of your work that stands out to you?
Satish: Initiatives such as the India School on Internet Governance (SIG) or the Asia Pacific School on Internet Governance (APSIG) have been effective platforms for not just capacity building, but also community building. The India SIG eventually emerged as a platform where initiatives such as the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) Workshops and the India Youth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) were incubated, which, in turn, paved the way for other national initiatives, including the recently announced India IGF.
What criteria do you look for when you recruit new people into the ICANN community?
Satish: The ICANN community is one of the most diverse, talented, and motivated global communities, and has repeatedly demonstrated the capabilities of the multistakeholder model that brings the community together. When we consider recruiting into this community, we start with individuals who are motivated, intelligent, mentally agile, open to new concepts, and can work under pressure. Through the right guidance and handholding, we welcome them as practitioners.
How can we use existing programs to increase diversity within the ICANN community?
Satish: ICANN's diversity considerations include geographic region, language, gender, age, potential disabilities, skills, and stakeholder group. Any capacity-building programs that intend to feed into ICANN's community must also respect these diversity concerns and fine tune their recruitment processes to reflect these to the extent possible. Additionally, affirmative action needs to be taken where diversity gaps remain consistent over a period of time.
What do you want the ICANN community to know about the importance of capacity building?
Satish: Internet governance in general, and ICANN's remit in particular, are sometimes hard for newcomers to comprehend. The content as well as the processes are replete with challenges –such as the requirement of prior knowledge, the complexity of the jargon, the working style of the multistakeholder model, and the interdependencies with other technical domains – and require the use of specialized capacity-building platforms to create effective new practitioners. ICANN instituting the Dr. Tarek Kamel Award is in itself abundant recognition of the importance of capacity building. ICANN should continue to support capacity building in every way it can.
Please join me in congratulating Satish Babu for this recognition of his extraordinary work in support of ICANN's mission.