Caught between State and Central

I live in Tamil Nadu, famous for its temples, culinary delights, classical art forms, political drama… and industries. The state is dotted with small and large industrial clusters, with every district having it’s own specializations. Step into one of these industries, you will see migrant labourers from other states. Most of the workers in Tamil Nadu’s industries are from other states like Bihar and Assam.

Tamil Nadu has a long history of intolerance towards the hindi  language. But industries here rely on migrant Hindi speaking labourers. Number of local workers are fast decreasing. Why has this happened? Is it because Tamil Nadu has no working population left?

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No… it is because local workers in Tamil Nadu do not take up  regular jobs. They prefer vocational jobs that give them the luxury of working when they need money and staying at home when they prefer.

Daily life in Tamil Nadu is made easy by government welfare schemes. Government run schools, hospitals, hotels, liquor shops, purified bottled water, free groceries, free rice, free electricity, free grinder, free mixie blenders, financial assistance for building houses, etc etc has made it possible to live without a full time job.

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The central government funded NREGA scheme ensures free salary for most families in villages. There is no work needed or done by NREGA members here. Yet, families enrolled in this scheme get a regular income.

But, the state also depends heavily on economically backward families for money. Government run alcohol shops generate a huge income for the state government, and daily wage earners are the main customers for these shops. Alcohol shops are crowded from dawn to dusk.

Government has taken little notice of the increasing number of jobless local population or their social problems. Present generation of politicians in the state turn a blind eye to the enterprising spirit of the state, and the woes of its industrial sector.

In addition, Central government’s recent slew of well intended measures have had their impact on these industries.

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Micro and small scale industries are the backbone for states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Majority of the industries here operate at low margins, beat competition by earning a good reputation, increase profits by increasing production numbers. There is very less scope to hoard black money or do unaccounted transactions. Black money here is synonymous with real estate, politicians, wealthy landlords etc.

Measures like demonetization and high tax rates under GST have hit the manufacturing sector adversely. Post demonetization, cash strapped industries fought to pay daily wage migrant labourers. Daily operations came to a stop as the supply chain froze and banks were overloaded with delays and money shortage.

Things were slowly returning back to normalcy, when it was time for GST. High tax rates, sudden increase in working capital, confusions and technical problems in filing returns are now taking a toll.

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In western states where money flow comes from wealthy traders, demonetization and GST will have a positive impact. There is scope for success as it may return back money to the government’s coffers. But in southern states where money flow comes from cottage industries and small scale manufacturers, these measures have a negative impact. Industries are fighting for survival due to these measures.

It is high time the central government understands the difference between wealthy hoarders and middle class industry owners. Policies and schemes that consider people as wealth hoarding cheaters should also have the means to protect industries operating at marginal profit.

In short, the state government of Tamil Nadu is driving workers away from jobs, making it difficult for industries to survive. In addition, Central government brings out schemes that confuse and penalize industries.

Caught between these two governments, survival is difficult for small industries. We wait hoping to see light at one or both ends of the long dark tunnel.

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Right age to start education

We are living in a fast paced world. Gone are the days when a fresh graduate started his career as an apprentice, worked his way up the ladder, saved money to buy a car, then his dream home, etc. Now fresh graduates start work with fancy salaries, take up certifications / jump jobs to move up the ladder, buy a car and house using bank loans and pay back the loan for the most part of his life.

This style of moving ahead quickly has trickled down every where, even to raising children and educating them.

Fast paced early starters:

New born kids are encouraged to reach development milestones earlier than expected. A B C D flash cards are brought for one year old children. The recommended age to start would be 3 years.

Kids are sent to (pre) schools as early as 2 years. At 2 years, kids do not have ability to understand happenings at school or outside.

So, are early starters better achievers than other kids? Yes.., and No. Results of this early start varies from child to child. It helps children learn alphabets and numbers one or two years earlier.., but affect their over all development in the long run.

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Consider an ideal setting:

Imagine a slower and normal lifestyle. New born kids should be cherished and treated as “new born” children till their first birthday. The new mother deserves relaxed life for a year to recuperate from child birth and get her hormones to work properly while feeding her new born.

From the age of 1 to 5 years, focus on physical development of the child is essential. A stable caretaker (parent) is needed for every child. Rolling over, crawling, sitting, standing and walking antics enjoyed by the whole family.

Early years:

One to five years is a crucial time for the child to explore and understand the world. This is the age when they learn about men and women, family, social structures, feelings, owning and sharing things, animals, life, nature etc. Neuro sciences say that every new experience in this early age develops the child’s brain.

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This experience can be given only through a daily life with ample opportunity to explore the society. A closed class room,cute and colourful, is not the perfect place for early social understanding.

 

6 years and above:

Around 6 years of age, every child has the natural instinct to understand numbers and written language. A 6 year old’s brain is bigger and more capable. Physical co-ordination between the brain and other body parts is well developed. The child can now draw, write, read and count with confidence. Irrespective of schools and teaching methodology, he has the physical and mental strength to understand and absorb the knowledge he needs.

Early starter vs Normal starter:

Imagine a 3 year old being taught to write alphabets in pre school. His brain is busy exploring feelings and owning things. He cannot understand why alphabets and languages exist. His hands are not fully developed to handle a pencil and write letters.

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To overcome these difficulties and get him started early, we devise creative methods of teaching like alphabet songs, cartoons, teaching tools, flash cards etc. There are also schools that give assignments of writing an alphabet multiple times to fill pages.

The child will master alphabets early in pre school. But, the time and energy spent in mastering letters should not compromise his effort to understand the social world around and develop psychologically.

A child learning the same alphabets around 5 – 6 years of age will find it easier and more interesting. He can remember alphabets quickly. Identify the learnt alphabets while looking at his story books, mobile games and cartoon names. His hands would find it easier to write letters as they have better co-ordination with the brain.

Less time and energy spent in learning the same alphabets when taught at the right age. The late (err… normal) starter has the added advantage that he had spent enough time exploring and understanding the world at 3 years of age.

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Early class room education is not needed. It does not guarantee a successful future. Good exposure to family and social life in the early years is important. It gives children a fair chance at becoming balanced and sensible adults.

Academic enrollment should not be at the expense of physical and mental development. It is important that children build a good attitude at the right age. They should start their education as self learners.

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Business avenues – Bake Cakes & Confectionery from home

Baking is fast becoming a sought after hobby. For the experts, it is a risk free business with good returns. People looking for early retirement from corporate jobs increasingly choose baking as an alternate career.

Learning skills and tools are an important requirement for any career. For baking, this starts from learning the basics of baking to specialization in cakes and pastries. There are short term, long term and even crash courses for baking.

For beginners, there are short term courses that teach the basics of baking, including cakes, buns, breads and biscuits. For advanced and pro level bakers, there are numerous short term and long term courses specializing in cakes, cup cakes, pastries, etc.

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Baking is a field where new tools and techniques keep evolving. So, the best institutes have long experience, as well as teach new tools and techniques of baking. Starting with a good beginner course is mandatory. This can be followed by multiple courses covering cakes, and a host of other confectioneries.

Tools required for baking depend on what specialization is opted for.  Cookies require industrial sized ovens to bake large numbers. Cakes require a host of accessories and embellishments for icing and decorations. Cost of baking courses, and materials are on the higher side. But this is one field where returns are guaranteed even during the initial stages.

Party and celebrations are the trend of the day, especially in big cities. If you live in the middle of a city, with access to a social circle that loves to celebrate, baking at home would be a lucrative business opportunity with good returns.

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For those who enter the baking business as a solo person, planning for a way to deliver baked goods is important. For many bakers, baking is the best part of the job, while delivery remains a nightmare. Delivering baked goods requires handling with utmost care. Outsourcing delivery or hiring outsiders to deliver may not be a safe option. So, plan for the delivery facilities before hand, to ensure customer satisfaction,

Many bakers start by taking up customized orders for cakes and cup cakes. Colleagues, friends and relatives who love to celebrate would be prospective customers at this stage. Once returns start flowing in, you can take up daily orders for bulk baking of cookies or pastries from local hotels / bakeries. A few successful bakers with good time management skills do bulk daily orders, in addition to highly customized (meaning, high priced) cakes and pastries for parties.

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A good online presence will help baking businesses by leaps and bounds. Online gives the easiest means to reach out to event managers, partying circles, and caterers and hoteliers. The second best means is word-of-mouth. Nothing works as best as a satisfied customer when it comes to marketing.

There are dozens of new bakers coming up every month, but there is space for more and more as the demand is high. A good field by all aspects if your heart is into baking and your brain is sharp in business acumen.

Participation review of Vijay TV s Neeya Naana

I was an avid fan of Vijay TV’s Neeya Naana talk show. I like the constructive discussions between general public. Other debates on TV focus on how well a person can debate. But, I thought Neeya Naana was focusing on facts and public awareness.

While watching the show a month earlier, my husband noticed a running scroll at the bottom inviting participation applications from women professionals So, I applied for it.

A week later, I got a call from Vijay TV. The topic was “Are men having a good time.., or are they toiling hard”? The caller was from Neeya Naana and he asked for my views on this topic. My instant reply was that I cannot generalize men. He urged me to answer it based on my general perception of men. As the discussion progressed, he asked me if I think being born as a man is fortunate and if I would like to be born as a man in my next birth. I do not believe in next birth.. and even if there was one, I am comfortable being born as who I am now. Based on this, he concluded that I think men toil hard. He asked if I can come to Prasad Studios in Chennai the next morning. I confirmed that I would be there the next day morning.

Arrival:

We drove from Pollachi to Chennai that night. We reached Prasad Studio in Vadapalani around 9.30 AM.  We registered my name with the Neeya Naana team there. During registration, the topic conveyed to me was slightly different. It was “How do women view men – are men dominating or responsible?”

There was a steady flow of participants till 10.30 AM. There were chairs for participants outside the studio. Breakfast was also served at the Studio. Most of the participants were busy discussing and debating points.   A few were calling up friends and relatives to inform of their participation in Neeya Naana. 3 ladies had already participated in Neeya Naana before. We waited outside the Studio till 11.30 AM.

Preparation:

We were finally called in to the Studio. Names were called out and participants were sorted as per their views – Men supporters on one side and Men haters on the other side. Lights were switched on.. the Neeya Naana set was there in front of us. We were allocated seats.  But, the seating arrangements were changed again and again for an hour. Reason given for this was participant’s dress colors and appearance should look well spread out when viewed on TV.

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The next one hour was extremely boring. We were asked to clap continuously with a smile on our faces. Then, we were asked to look straight for 10 minutes. These were recorded. This continued for around an hour while we waited for Mr. Gopinath, the famous host of Neeya Naana. Mr. Antony, the director of Neeya Naana, instructed both sides of participants. He gave us a list of points to be spoken about, and a list of points to be avoided. After this, his assistants instructed participants on the do’s and dont’s.. like don’t grab the mike, instead ask for it etc.

Starting:

Finally, Mr. Gopinath arrived. He had a brief discussion with the director, followed by a briefing with the assistants. It was past noon when the show started. Mr. Gopinath introduced the topic as “Women’s view of Men – Carefree or Suffering”. He started with the carefree side. Around 70% of what Mr. Gopinath spoke was prompted by the director.  At first, I felt strange that there was an echo for anything he says. Then I realized that it was the director prompting loudly. It looks like Mr.Gopinath or Mr.Antony had specific points in mind. As the mike moved among participants, they allowed a few participants to talk for long about specific points, but gave rude rebukes to a few participants for other points.

For Ex.., the lady who started talking about her personal experiences was rudely asked to stop. Mr. Gopinath instructed her was not to talk about personal “stories”. But another young lady who spoke of her team mates behaviour was encouraged to talk. This young lady did not use respectful language ( her exact words were “thanni adichittu mattai aagiduvanga”). But she was encouraged to continue talking.

Progress:

After 30 minutes of talking to the carefree side, Mr.Gopinath appeared stressed out. He said he was frustrated because participants were not giving answers  as he expected. For the next one hour, Mr.Gopinath picked out participants one by one, and threw questions at them on a host of men related issues. Those who could not give a satisfactory answer got harsh rebukes. At the end of an hour, most of the participants on that side were hushed up.

Only a few were encouraged by Mr.Gopinath to tell their views. These views were countered by a few ladies seated in the first row of the opposite side. Participants in the other rows kept voicing their views from the opposite side. Their views went unnoticed. Ladies in the first row appeared keen to keep the mike with them. Those who dared to shout out their views from the other rows were silenced by Mr.Gopinath. He said that  participants in the first row have answered his question and further replies were not needed.

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By then it was already 1.30 PM. Lunch was served. Many participants in the men – supporters side were disappointed that they never got a chance to tell their views. They asked  the Neeya Naana team about this. Prompt came the reply that they can speak up in the remaining segments. A few others approached the director, Mr.Antony, and asked for a chance to tell their views. We saw Mr.Antony passing on the message to Mr.Gopinath.

Post lunch, Mr.Gopinath’s focus was on the men – supporters side. Mr. Gopinath raised a few points spoken by the opposite team. He asked participants to counter these views. One of the participants in the first row  was a lawyer. She was a voracious public speaker. She fiercely guarded the mike, answering loudly in English for every single question. She ensured that no one else got a chance to talk. Many times, Mr.Gopinath had to remind her that this was not a fierce debate, but a public discussion.

By then, other participants had been waiting for long. They loudly demanded for a chance to tell out their views. Mr. Gopinath used the same approach again. His question was about health problems faced by men. He pointed to a lady aged around 45 years to answer this. She said  men were responsible towards family commitments and that she wanted to talk about family related issues faced by men. Mr.Gopinath replied in a stern and harsh tone that she had raised her voice asking for a chance to talk, but when he gave her that chance she is not talking sensibly. The poor lady had tears in their eyes.

Mr.Gopinath continued the same with anyone who dared to raise their voice asking for a chance to talk. After an hour, all the participants were silenced. Either they were afraid to speak out, or were tired and had lost hope of voicing their views. After that, it was mostly a discussion between 4 – 5 participants and Mr. Gopinath. But, even this discussion was not interesting or sensible.

Discussions:

A participant in the first row of Men supporters side said that her husband was coming home late due to work, and their sexual life was miserable. This was countered by a young girl in the other side who said that in the fast life today, sexual happiness should be compromised, and it was not really a problem for men!

Another lady who had impressed Mr.Gopinath earlier on was given a chance to speak. She said that if both the husband and wife were working, they never had any interest in sexual happiness. The next half an hour was spent listening to this discussion. Mr.Gopinath and Mr.Anotny appeared quite pleased with the discussion between the 3 ladies. They sat in silence listening with a contentment written on their faces.

After half an hour, Mr.Gopinath was prompted by the director to applaud this discussion. He promptly claimed that he was proud of this discussion. He also proudly announced with this discussion proved how intelligent Tamil women were!

Conclusion:

The show was nearing its final stage. Mr. Ram, Tamil film director, was the special guest invited for this episode. Not sure why no psychologist, or thinker or writer was invited to preside over this.. instead, it was a film director. By then, I had a splitting head ache and could not take any more of this. So, I decided to leave during the next break. It was 4 PM when I left.

 

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Review:

To summarize the show on one sentence – it is completely mismanaged. Most of the arguments and discussions we see on TV are edited and tailored. Actual shooting happens for 6 hours. This is edited and tailored to a one hour episode. So, the show aired on TV is not a genuine public talk show. It is a highly tailored and edited talk show.

Host Review:

Mr.Gopinath’s reply to lady participants is harsh and insulting. A talk show is one where participants engage in constructive discussions, not one where the host keeps bringing down the participant’s self respect.

Social Concern:

Tamil Media and Film industry has a section of people who project themselves as intellectuals. They acquire knowledge about social issues through books or movies. After this, they showcase the same issues in their films and shows. Then they become intellectuals overnight.

In addition, if this issue is related to Eelam Tamilians, or about Fishermen problems in Tamil Nadu, or about Marxist ideologies, etc.., the person is sure to be branded as an intellect in Tamil Film Industry. These intellectuals treat others who are not focusing on these issues as inferior common men.

A Participant’s Anguish:

I understand that the Neeya Naana team has the right to decide whose views to edit and whose views to broadcast. But do they have the right to invite participants and finally do not let them speak a word. Do they understand that participants travel at their own cost (many participants were not from Chennai), spend their time (it was a working day and women professionals were participating).. and finally get insulted by Mr.Gopinath?

Mr.Gopinath and the director appeared angry and tense throughout the show. At one point, Mr.Gopinath yelled out to the crew members, loudly shouting at them to lower the ear piece volume. It took him a minute to recover his pose and talk in a normal tone. Similar incidents kept happening through out.

If this show is well planned, organized and managed more efficiently, it would be a better and enjoyable experience for  Mr.Gopinath, the  Neeya Naana team and for the participants.

Looking Back:

My participation in Neeya Naana turned to be a very bitter experience. I took almost a week to forget the bitter memories. Why invite 50 professionals from across Tamil Nadu, shout at them and insult them, encourage senseless discussions for the sake of TRP, falsely propagate a sense of Tamil pride, include comments that degrade women and alienate migrants in Tamil Nadu, etc?

It has been 2 weeks since this happened. I have not watched Vijay TV since then… I will probably not watch Vijay TV at all in future. It is better to be at peace, rather than to be lured by such senseless media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data Entry – Making Work from Home possible

Data Entry means entering data into a computer. Most data entry jobs involve converting paper documents into soft copy documents. It can also involve entering details of undelivered mails, entering answers from handwritten questionnaires, converting numeric codes into descriptions, etc.

Most data entry jobs require good typing skills, Prior experience with the computer and clerical work is an added advantage.  Academic qualifications are not mandatory. Payments are either fixed amounts for a set of documents, or fixed amounts for every 1000 words entered.

Many companies employ Data entry clerks to work from the company premises. An increasing number of companies have started to out source the data entry work, instead of employing permanent employees.

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Where to find online data entry jobs

For International readers, websites like Craigslist, Monsterjobs etc have frequent posts for data entry jobs. For readers from India, Freelancer.in, MonsterJobs, Naukri etc have data entry requirements. Government of India regularly posts openings for data entry jobs in this www.IndiGovtJobs.in

A search in Google with terms like “Data Entry jobs” or Data Entry jobs in <your country> will bring back lots of websites with a wide variety of online data entry jobs.

Types of Data Entry jobs

If you are new to data entry jobs and would like to understand how it is done, You tube has many videos that demo data entry jobs. Reputed companies, Agents, University students, Research scholars etc often post requirements in these websites for data entry jobs.

Data Entry jobs are of many types:

Direct data typing jobs involve typing words directly in to Notepad or test editing softwares like MS Word.  Companies usually mandate a typing speed of 30 words per minute for this type of data entry jobs.

Form Filling jobs includes migrating data from filled up forms to files or vice-versa. This job involves typing huge amounts of data in already filled up forms into text files.. , or filling every field in the form according to data from text files.

Image to text conversion jobs involve typing text displayed in images, like captcha images.

Copy-Paste jobs can be found all over the internet. This would involve copy – pasting activities, like copy pasting a given advertisement text into many classifieds websites and forums.

Medical Transcription is one of the highly paid and reliable data entry jobs. This job involves referring to medical documents that are in the form of images.. and typing the same into text documents. This job is difficult because the documents involve difficult and complex medical related words.

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Beware of fradulent sites

It is important to identify fraudulent sites while searching for online Data Entry jobs. An advertisement for online data entry or Copy-paste jobs with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes is a sign of caution.

Go with sites that look professional, and display information about the company. While calling toll free numbers to sign up for data entry work, inquire about the company, its roots, frequency and mode of payments.

Ensure you pay a visit to the company (HQ or branch office) before making payments or signing contracts.

Try out a short term membership before making long term commitments.

If a trust worthy company is identified that makes payments on time and the payment amount is satisfactory, it would signal the beginning of a stable income. Happy Data Entry!

Image courtesy: All Things Clipart