‘Touch the Sky With Glory’ – true to their motto, the Indian Air Force is an embodiment to the grit, determination, and grace. On this Air Force Day the nation salutes the spirit of sacrifice, courage and the inspiring discipline exhibited by our men in blue! Be it emergency evacuations, search and rescue operations or a full fledged war, the Indian Air Force always leads from the front! On 8th October 1932, the Indian Air Force was officially established by the British. That is why 8th October every year is commemorated as the ‘Air Force Day’. The day is celebrated with the public display of synchronized adventurous air shows at Hindon, near Delhi.
The Indian Air Force boasts of a glorious history of achievements starting from the Second World War when it halted the Japanese army in Burma and other South Asian countries. It played a decisive role in “Operation Vijay” for Goa’s annexation to India, the victory of Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 and the Kargil War in 1999. Fact Check - Did you know that the President of India is the supreme Commander of the Indian Air Force?
Why Should You Learn a Foreign Language?
Learning a language is hard enough, learning a foreign language harder. A language is not simply an assortment of names and sounds, but an ever expanding catalogue of a culture. Learning a new language means experiencing a culture that is not only absent but also fundamentally different from the one in which one has grown. This cultural immersion is one of the most difficult things as the biases of own cultural conditioning continuously exert a pull that resists the foreign influences. The experience can be immensely frustrating. Yet, where there is a will there is a way as the old adage testifies. If you persist long enough, the process of learning a foreign language can be immensely enriching.
The benefits of learning a foreign language far outshine the clichéd and done to death adding sheen to your CV. How does it benefit thee, let me count the ways! For one, it is an excellent brain exercise and has documented health benefits. Learning a new language is fun and is proved to boost our cognitive process, helps in better memory and delays dementia and Alzheimer’s. Learning a new language makes us a good listener as we have to pay attention to gauge the meaning in a new language. It allows us a sneak peek into a new culture. Learning new languages is not just a tool to explore the world outside, it takes us on an interesting journey inwards to understand the self. You emerge a more cosmopolitan and enriched person, an invaluable advantage in a globalized world.
The limits of your language are the limits of your world. Learning a language opens a whole new way of life to us because language acquisition cannot take place in isolation. Language and culture are deeply intertwined. Teaching-learning a foreign language is assisted by watching movies, learning songs, reading books etc. This exposure to new culture infuses cultural tolerance and brings an inevitable comparison to our native culture allowing us to self-reflect and understand our own position in the world. We might find an unexpected connect in another countries -music, food, dance etc that were hitherto alien to us.
You might claim that all this is fine but does it offer any tangible career benefits? Why should you as a student enroll for a language course? To put your brains where the money is, you can make a successful career out of it too, while having a great time.
In the age of instant google translator, the career as a translator is still a sought after one. It allows you the flexibility to work from any corner of the world as long as you have an internet connection. Since it is well paying and much in demand, it is highly competitive. One is advised to specialize in a niche domain such as education, law, medicine, science etc.
Interpreters are in demand in courtrooms, conferences, parliaments of multilingual countries, UN etc. Interpreters during live interviews and speeches are much in demand. Along with the message a good interpreter should also convey the personality of the person for whom you are interpreting so that the interpreters own personality stays in the background.
Foreign languages can open your path to one of the most glamorous professions and a ticket to travel the world. A combination of English and a foreign language like French, Spanish or German could be your ticket to an exciting career as a flight attendant.
Embassies and Consulates
Each country has an embassy and consulates that provides diplomatic services to other countries. These embassies and consulates need people who speak the local language.
These jobs are very prestigious and applicants with a very high proficiency are recruited after a rigorous selection process.
Proof reader/ Editor
Anything that is written/ translated needs to pass the watchful eyes of a proofreader before it is published. As a proof reader your role will be to find and correct any grammatical error in the document. A lot of international companies are setting up businesses in India. They hire people for translation and proof reading of their documents for formal communication.
Hospitality, Tourism and Travel Tour guide
With a degree in a foreign language, you can expect to work with museums and monuments as a multilingual tour guide. If you love to meet and chat with new people, this could be an option worth considering.
Companies with businesses overseas train their staff in the local language before sending then abroad onsite. One can work as a corporate trainer for these companies and carry home a hefty pay check.
There are ample opportunities for qualified teachers in foreign languages. Most schools offer German, Russian, French or Russian, Japanese etc as a third language. Most universities too have foreign language departments.
Higher education in Europe
Germany, Finland and many other European countries do not charge tuition fees for higher education and countries like German and France offer generous scholarships for a Masters and Doctoral courses. A degree/diploma in foreign language opens research and higher studies opportunities abroad.
There is a world beyond engineering, medicine and management which is equally rewarding and perhaps more exciting. Don't be scared to explore it. There are no promises that it’s going to be an easy ride. The rat race and competition is a part of every profession, one can’t help it. But to be in a race one enjoys makes it worthwhile.
The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.
Unveiling Secrecy: RTI and Access to Information
The International Day for Universal Access to Information is celebrated each year on 28th September. The term ‘Information’ has important connotations and consequences for the modern world beyond the cursory “acts provided or learned about something or someone” as mandated by the dictionary. The extent, content, and nature of this ‘learned’ information as well as the objective and the audience of this learning, are fundamental to defining the political orders and models of governance that are conceived, and adopted by any state.
This is particularly true of states like India that are conceived as democracies, where the will and choice of the voting public reign supreme. In such a scenario, it is absolutely essential that the people who vote have clarity in their choice of elected representatives, which necessarily involves an unqualified and unrestricted access to information on ‘polity’ and ‘policy’.
Access to Information as a safeguard of Democracy
Public access to information is one of the keys to a thriving democracy. For a democracy to flourish, its public institutions should be free of corruption. In most developing countries, development projects are marred by high levels of corruption. The funds meant for infrastructure, education, health, and housing are diverted to the deep pockets of politicians, middlemen, and contractors. It perpetuates the cycle of poverty and injustice, undermines the rule of law and weakens confidence citizen have in democratic institutions. Corruption thrives due to the lack of transparency and back door deals. With access to information, governments can be held accountable and questioned for their policies and expenditure on health care, education and other public services. Access to information increases public participation in governance by allowing the citizens to scrutinize the actions of the government and encourage a well-informed debate on matters of policy and national importance. A debate, as we know, is the backbone of a healthy democracy.
Right to Information and the death of RTI activists.
In 2005 India joined the illustrious list of countries passing laws for open access to information when the Right to Information Act (RTI) came into force. Under the provision of this Act, any citizen of India can request information from a public authority or office. The concerned office has to reply within 30 days. The Act gives citizens access to information to which hitherto only government officials were privy to, making every citizen a potential whistle-blower. Unfortunately, the Act that was meant to bring transparency in the system has ruffled many feathers.
Tragically, since 2005, more than 60 people have been murdered and numerous others tortured for exposing the corruption in the government on the basis of the information they received under the RTI Act. Nanjibhai Sondarva of Manekvada village in Gujarat is the latest to pay the price for seeking information under RTI. He was murdered by six people in March 2018 for seeking information about the funds spent on the construction of a road in his village. Try a google search on attacks on RTI activists in India and you will be taken aback to find a never-ending list of people who have been murdered, kidnaped, tortured, harassed, assaulted and driven to suicide.
This despite the 2014 Whistle Blowers Protection Act which promises to protect the person who exposes corruption in the government bodies, offices, and projects.
India has been ranked a dismal 81st in Corruption Perception Index 2017 by Transparency International. India has also been characterized as the worst “regional offenders” in Asia Pacific region on grounds of murders of journalists, activists, opposition leaders and intimidation and threatening of investigating agencies. As the statics indicate RTI Act alone can’t combat corruption until a sincere political will to weed out corruption prevails. In the current scenario when crackdowns on activists, journalists and civil society, in general, are on a rise, isn’t it all-important to protect a few who dare to speak up and question the establishment?
The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.
The #metoo campaign following the stories of women assaulted by Harvey Weinstein restate the ubiquitous sexual harassment of women at Workplace. It is not the first instance of abuse of power by the people in important positions. The infamous Tarun Tejpal case back in India is yet another glaring example of the all pervasive problem of harassment of women. In many instances women are unaware of the complaint mechanism and existence of law against sexual harassment at the workplace.
Indian women have been in the work force since the 1950s, the number multiplied multifold post liberalization in the 1990s. Yet, sexual harassment didn't hit the Indian legal map until 1997. In 1992, Bhawri Devi, a village level Rajasthan government employee was gang-rapped by the village landlords after she tried to stop a child marriage in their family. The case led to the filing of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by a women’s rights group- Vishakha, after which the Supreme court laid down guidelines, also called as Vishakha guidelines to be followed at the workplace.
Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act came into force in 2013. Sexual harassment is punishable under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code. The convict can face one to three year imprisonment and/or fine.
What constitutes sexual harassment at workplace ?
Sexual harassment is making unwanted sexual advances , obscene remarks, showing sexually offensive visuals and demands for sexual favors. Inappropriate texts, unwelcome social invitations, lewd comments making sexually colored jokes, innuendoes, staring, intimidating women or any other behavior that makes a woman uncomfortable constitutes sexual harassment.
Execution of Sexual Harassment Act at workplace
The sexual harassment act requires all companies with more than 10 employees to set up an internal complaints committee, with one external member, headed by a woman. It is meant to encourage women to lodge their complain in a fear free environment and ensure a transparent system of redressal. But the reality is far from hopeful. Non-compliance of the act is rampant in companies.
According to the 2016 report on sexual harassment by Indian national Bar Association, despite the provisionsthere is no complain committee at most organization and they have no knowledge of the process.
Women find it overwhelming to challenge the employers or male colleagues for the fear of termination from their job, retaliation, lack of confidence in the organization , low awareness about laws and procedures and fear of embarrassment and stigma.
Most organizations tend to push these cases under the carpet for they view it as a blot on their public image and not as a breach of an individual woman’s right to safety and dignity. There is a sense of denial in that organizations believe that sexual harassment is something that happens in other organizations and does not exist in their own because there are no reported cases. Organizations even evade calling the term sexual harassment, such cases are often labelled as ‘inappropriate behavior’ and ‘internal matter’. Companies tend to dismiss this issue as unimportant and hope it will be forgotten in the due course. Or, the HR department will be equipped to handle it and the employees rules of conduct will be adequate to handle the situation should the need arise. Companies fail to recognize that sexual harassment is a socio-legal issue and HR department is not enough to tackle the specifics of the issue.
In response to the #Metoo campaign, Women and Child Development Ministry has launched an online portal called as the ‘SHe-box’ to report sexual harassment at workplace.
How can men contribute?
Gruesome sexual violence on the rise against women and right-wing groups validating them should be a cause of worry for all of us. Men can be powerful allies too in sexual assault prevention.
As men you need to understand that passing comments, staring, making unwanted phone calls, whistling or any other activity that is making a woman uncomfortable needs to stop now. Don't encourage or participate in such behavior.
Take down your Bollywood tinted glasses which tell you that when a girl says no she actually means yes. That’s nonsense! No means no. Understand the concept of consent.
Do not respond to sexist jokes and question people who do. It will make them think. Refrain from using gender based abusive words and language that objectifies women.
Remember that only the person perpetrating sexual violence is responsible for it. Whether a woman was wearing short dress or not, whether she was drunk or not, the time she went out and what company she was in is irrelevant. Do not blame and shame the victim.
Men need to interrogate their own privileges and the traditional notions of masculinity and femininity that put women in a hierarchical subservient position. They have to understand that gender equity is an important facet to violence prevention. Legal framework can hardly yield success until there is enough sensitization about the issue at the workplace and the cultural practices which allow men to feel superior to women are quashed.
Sarpotdar, Anagha, “Sexual harassment of Women, Reflections on the Private Sector”, Economic and Political Weekly of India, Vol XLVIII No 40, October 5, 2013.
The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.
Make Trade, Make Peace!
Trade is the single most important factor that has shaped the destiny of the modern world. Cultures and goods freely crossed the silk route for centuries bridging the gap between East and West. Modern nation-states were founded upon the premise of protectionism and expansion of trade during Renaissance, and funded by finances generated from trade. The importance of trade dates back to pre-industrial and pre - nation societies. Much of our history comes from travelogues drawn by traders who traveled through the world, drawing maps and our concept of the world. It is no exaggeration, therefore, to suggest that trade is one great unifier that has fueled the establishment of a civilized world as well as modernity on its own.
Free trade Vs Protectionism
Free trade is the policy of treating foreign goods and services no different from domestic goods and services and allowing producers from overseas to freely sell their goods in the country.
Protectionism is a policy of discriminating against foreign goods and services and restricting trade by imposing tariffs on them, thereby making them costlier for the customers.
At different times in history, protectionism and free trade have dominated the trade patterns. However, most agree that free trade is the means to promote peace and economic prosperity amongst countries.
Peace through trade?
It is an established fact that free trade benefits nations by increasing their wealth and living standards. India’s own story post-liberalization is testimony to that. Countries that trade a lot with each other are less likely to go to war with each other because free trade makes countries more commercially inter-dependent giving them the economic incentive to keep hostilities at bay. India and Russia share outstanding bilateral ties. Russia has been supporting India on various international forums and vice versa. The reason is the high trade link between the two countries. India is the second largest buyer of defence equipment from Russia. It reflects in the perception Russians have for India. A good 45% of Russians view India positively and only 9% expressed negative views, according to a BBC World Service Poll conducted in 2014.
Traders or businessmen influence the government. If they are doing profitable business with other countries, businessmen on both the sides will be opposed to war. Recently China has reduced the import duty on American cars by 10% opening huge possibilities for American car makers in China. US has also blinked on its decision to slap import duty on Chinese goods to the US. It has bought truce to the two countries otherwise on the verge of trade war.
India and Pakistan share dismal bilateral trade figures which reflect in the volatile relations the two two countries share. Every time the conflict with Pakistan hits a new bottom, experts suggest that the only way to normalize the situation is to improve mutually beneficial trade ties. On several occasion when politics has failed us, trade has come to the rescue. After the Uri attack where 18 Indian soldiers were martyred, India retaliated and hostilities on both sides reached a new high. India banned Pakistani artists from working in India. Pakistan countered it by banning the Indian movies. However, within a few months Pakistani cinema owners incurred heavy losses and amidst heavy pressure, the decision was revoked. Practical considerations of money sometimes force peace and keep the hollow noises of nationalism in check!
Extensive trade links may not always be directly proportional to good diplomatic relations. Despite Indian markets being flooded with Chinese goods and a whopping bilateral trade volume of US$ 84.5 billion between the two countries, the diplomatic relations with China are not always cordial. Yet, the importance of trade in normalizing relations does not diminish. Trade does not occur in a vacuum. Trade accompanies cultural exchanges and exchange of ideas. Trade breaks the wall of mystery and stereotypes and humanizes the people one trades with. It makes the people on the other side of the border seem less demonic, making us realize that people all over are the same with same hopes, sorrows and joys. It makes us more tolerant and understanding of each other’s differences and makes the countries look more than mere lines on the map.
That is why despite the border disputes with China and Pakistan which could completely cripple the bilateral ties, trade helps to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Indian movies make mighty sums of money in China and Pakistan and Indian movie stars are widely revered there, resulting in cultural closeness. The legends of humungous popularity of twinkling blue eyed Raj Kapoor singing..... mera joti….mera joti hai japani..Sar pe lal topi rusi…. are still talked about in India and Russia. Such cultural exchanges facilitated by trade keep the tensions lower if not completely mitigate them.
Protectionism on the other hand, leads to ill feelings towards other nations.
In the 1930s, industrial nations increased trade barriers leading to spitefulness amongst countries, setting the stage for World War II.
Protectionist sentiments are stirring all over the world evident in Brexit and the ‘Make in India’ initiative in India. India has raised import tariffs to the highest in the last three decades leaving all its important trade allies including the U.S, up in arms. The U.S is already mulling over doing the same to Indian goods.
Trump’s “America- First” policy has had its repercussions on India’s important information technology industry – which generates output worth $150 billion per year.
These seemingly harmless retaliations proves to be an ammunition for the war.
French economist, Fredric Bastiat famously wrote- If goods don’t cross borders, armies will. I would humbly agree to it!
What to say when you meet new people: The 9 secrets to success
On an average day, you are going to meet a great many new people. Some of them might seem of no value to your life - a waitress, a delivery man, a house cleaning staff and so forth. Yet, never underestimate the value of any individual. Remember, the art of networking can lead you to you achieving greatness. With that in mind, let's look at what you should say and talk about when you meet someone for the first time!
1) Speak without speaking: Your physical appearance and demeanor will say more to people about who you are and what you think of them than any initial greeting. So, keep your body clean, your appearance neat, and dress nicely.
2) A good first line: Don't start off with something like: "Hey, what’s up?" Unless you're talking to a bunch of excited teenagers; that is not how you address someone in the professional world. A proper phrase along the lines of: "How do you do?" or "It's a pleasure to meet you" is appropriate.
3) Eyes and hand: You want to connect with someone at once. So, look them straight in the eye, and offer them your hand. A firm handshake that isn't brief, and yet isn't too long either, and don't crush their hand. That's something a professional wrestler does to intimidate an opponent; not what you do when you want to make a good first impression.
Once the initial meeting is over, Follow up by asking for their name, and make it a point to remember it. Nothing is better at pleasing someone than a person they just met remembering their name.
4) Body language: You want people to feel comfortable when they are talking to you. So, stand up straight, maintain good eye contact - without being domineering, and pay close attention to what they say.
5) Be courteous and speak in a clear, polite tone: If you are in a job interview, let the interviewer ask the first question. After all, you're after a job from them; time is money, and they're busy. So, let them control the situation. Now, at some point, they're going to ask you if you have any questions. That leads to the next point.
6) Be ready to participate in the conversation: Again, if you're on a job interview, check out the company, and have some questions ready to ask. If you're in a social setting, be ready to ask the other person questions about them and their life; or be able to talk about yourself and what you like.
7) Pay attention to what's going on: If your eyes glaze over and you’re not engaged in what's going on, people won’t want to have anything to do with you. So, concentrate on what they're talking about.
8) Select the right things to say: This is a function of the type of conversation you're involved in: interview, a social gathering, a dinner party, and so forth. After the initial meeting, you want to either talk about something interesting - a recent market trend you have observed, a deck that impressed you the most or even a movie you enjoyed recently. Also, ask the other person some questions.
9) Keep the conversation balanced: On one hand, you do not want the other person to have to do all the talking; on the other hand, it's impolite for you to monopolize the conversation. So, allow the other person (people) to talk, and then you "chime in" with a contribution.
Finally, remember the Golden Rule; treat people as you want them to treat you. Treating people decently is a true sign of having good manners. It's said that first impressions are last impressions.
• Bovee C.L., Thill J. V., Chatterjee A. (2011), Business Communication Today, Pearson Education
• Butterfield J. (2011), Soft Skills for Everyone, Cengage Learning India Pvt Ltd
Authored by Ashish Vilas Thite, Faculty of Commerce and Management, Vishwakarma University, Pune.
Gender Equality Day
August 26th every year is a red letter day in the annals of struggle by women for their rights. It represents the day when a century long struggle bore fruit as women suffrage was constitutionally approved in the United States in 1920. The victory is commemorated all over the world as Women Equality Day, in recognition of the unfinished legacy of this day, and the continuing struggle to achieve just treatment of women, and accord them their rights. However, today the equality discourse has co-opted men and transgenders too. Men have been carrying the burden of proving their ‘masculinity’ just as women are tamed to adhere to the norms of ‘femininity’.
Men have also been stigmatized for pursuing the ‘soft’ careers just as women have been thought a misfit in Science. If a man cries in public he is pansy. If a woman doesn't buckle down, she is masculine. Contemporary feminism seeks to dismantle these binaries. Very often gender equality is irrationally viewed as a feminist issue - a women issue. Gender discrimination cuts across all genders and concerns men and transgenders as much as it concerns women. Transgenders face the challenge to a dignified life. In some countries they are not even recognized as a third gender. Even if they are, they have to face the humiliation and live in inhuman conditions. In recently concluded general elections in Pakistan, transgenders were not allowed to enter the polling booths to vote. Likewise men are expected to adhere to rigid social norms just like women. They are scorned and sneered at if they opt for the so called feminine career like that of a nurse, beauty consultant etc., traditionally reserved for women. They have to live up to the enormous pressure to be a ‘real man’ and take on the role of the breadwinner for the family. They are expected to be emotionally resilient even in the face of adversity. However we know that historically men have enjoyed the privilege in personal and professional sphere simply by virtue of being men. The privileges that come with being a man have shielded them from a lot of struggles. Right to vote is one of them.
Suffrage movements in the West have a bitter history of struggle and resistance. Women who made an attempt to vote in the U.S. in the early 1870s were arrested and had to face lawsuits. Suffrage came relatively easy for their Eastern counterparts. One obvious reason was that in the early 20th century most of the Eastern countries like India, Sri Lanka were caught in the whirlwind of aggressive nationalistic movements for independence. With the end of colonial rule came the constitutional authorities that gave universal enfranchise to all citizens.
However, all over the world voting rights to women have proven to be just tokenism. It has not ensured any significant political participation of women in politics. In India out of 543 parliamentarians only 66 are women, amounting to barely 12%. In the US only 84 women are serving in the House of Representatives amounting to only 20% of the Congress.
These numbers are also symptomatic of the larger patriarchal attitude entrenched in societies all over the world, which reduce women to mere sexualized objects. Closer to home, in 2017 UP elections, a prominent BJP politician claimed that Priyanka Gandhi is not a star campaigner because there are more beautiful women in his own party. In other words, he was saying: What more could she offer! What else would a woman be good for?
Not only in politics, as recent as three decades ago women were conspicuous by their absence in literary histories, higher education, sports, the corporate sector, the armed forces etc. Thanks to the feminist movements in the 1970s, the contribution of women, hitherto invisible, in freedom movements, literature and other walks of life were finally brought to light. But there is a long way to go still. Women are still seen as irrational beings with lower intellectual capabilities as compared to men. These attitudes are apparent in common preference of couples keen on having a male child, or the all too pervasive casual jokes about women drivers. Not just ordinary mortals but also influential philosophers like Rousseau and Kant believed that woman are beautiful inferior beings and ‘not fit for serious employment’. If they are ‘beautiful and captivating’ that is enough.
Equality Vs Equity
Sexual violence, discrimination, illiteracy etc. are some of the prime reasons that hinder women from self-actualization be it political participation, climbing up the corporate ladder, or any conceivable field of existence and competition. One must pause here and ask what really is perpetuating these conditions. We have been paying lip service at the shrine of equality – laws have been passed, reservations are put in place, tax rebates are given, we even have a separate ministry here in India not to speak of the innumerable commissions. What has gone wrong then? It is time to go back to the drawing board and find the root of the rot. The first step to be taken must be an acknowledgment of the failure of the equality model. The equality model has not and cannot reverse the situation. Women should strive for equity rather than equality. Equality implies uniformity and sameness while equity means need based provisions. ‘One size fits all’ model to promote equality is insufficient.
Affirmative actions like reservation for women is not an ideal solution. Women have 33% reservation in the Panchayat elections in India yet women are still grossly underrepresented and marginalized. Very often they exist only on paper. It’s their husbands who take the decisions on their behalf.
To create an even playing field for women, we need to have programs, measures and strategies to make up for the historical and social advantages women face in the workforce and in their personal life.
To achieve gender equity, we need to recognize that the traditional social roles, rights and responsibilities of men and women need to be redefined. Giving maternity leave to both men and women, for example, will not solve the problem unless men are sensitized that they too need to contribute to childcare. Equality model does not work unless equity is in place. If equality is the end goal, equity is the means to get there.
The status of women has changed for the better in the last few decades. But there are some pressing issues like unequal pay for equal work, domestic and sexual violence, inhuman working conditions of women in unorganized sector etc. which need to be addressed. Even a sport as glamorous as tennis suffers from gender pay gap. A major cultural revolution needs to accompany policy change to stop relegating women to a subservient and inferior position as compared to men.
This Gender Equality Day let’s strive for a world where labels like feminism are rendered meaningless and merit prevails over gender and equality between all genders becomes a given.
Interior Designing: How decor can affect our well being
Be it our workspace, home or shopping centre, the interior of a place significantly affects us. It can make us calm and productive, make the kids behave better or make the customers buy more.
Usually interior designing is taken to mean only the aesthetics. But that’s only one part of the puzzle. The psychological effects of interior design on our subconscious is not really spoken about. The look of our house or office space can have a documented effect on our emotions. An office with just tables, chairs and barren walls may not provide its employees the mental stimulation to work better. Likewise a cluttered home may fail to give the much needed relaxation at home. Interior design of these places can dictate how we feel. Hence, a music studio or a chef’s kitchen and most other workspaces are artistically designed to give employees the feel of their respective professions.
A balance of colors, size of windows, fall of light and the shape and texture of furniture can make all the difference how one feels.
Colors are an important aspect of how we perceive our surroundings. That colors produce certain emotional response is evident from our vocabulary. We feel blue, go green with envy and sometimes we just think pink! It is difficult to decode the exact implications of colors, experts agree that bright hues of yellow and green offer a splash of energy and stimulate communication and socialization. Richer shades of orange have a similar vibrant effect, it increases appetite therefore mostly used in kitchens. Purple and dark shades of blue and green cause a tinge of gloom though when used in appropriate proportions they can evoke comfort. Softer shades of orange and yellow are soothing, create happiness and enhance creativity. Light shades of blue evoke the color of sky and sea and usher in tranquility. Icy green and grey create a sense of calm and peace. Red can pepper the room with energy but if used in excess, it can appear hostile.
Humans are like plants. They bloom in natural light and wilt in dark dingy spaces. Natural light is the primary source of health and means of a composed body and mind. Bright natural light energizes the surroundings and make the space look spacious. Dim light creates sad, gloomy and suffocating spaces and hence are unproductive. The best source of light is sunlight and that is why the number and sizes of the windows in a space can boost ones happiness or make one depressed, sad or anxious.
Space can have a definitive effect on our behavior, mood, thoughts and feelings. The size of the room and height of the ceiling impacts the mood and individual’s perception of freedom and confinement. It is documented that in rooms with higher ceilings, people are more focused and creative. Studies point that the proximity to plants can lift one’s mood, increase concentration and even improve memory retention, since the sight of natural elements and green color reduces stress. Clear passages and uncluttered homes allow the free flow of energy and create happy vibrations.
Shapes and Forms
The ancient practice of Feng Shui tells us that besides spaciousness, light and colors, the texture and form of the furniture can produce a particular emotional response. The shapes and textures should represent the five natural elements i.e. earth, fire, water, wood and metal. Rich textures ooze a sense of comfort while metal elements like wall clocks are linked to strength. Wooden elements promote personal growth and health. Feng Shui also teaches us that the arrangement of the furniture should ensure a seamless flow of energy. Dead spaces due to ill arrangement create negative energy.
Authored by Shraddha Jadhav, Faculty of Arts and Design at Vishwakarma University.
Books adapted for the Silver Screen
What are the odds of the current generation not having seen the movies of Harry Potter or of Game of Thrones? The actors who have starred in these movies, from Daniel Radcliffe to Sean Bean are now superstars with a huge fan following. Yet, both books were not originally made for television, rather they were meant to be read as books first. The Harry Potter series was written by J.K. Rowling, while the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ was written by George R.R. Martin as a series of fantasy novels. History is replete with examples of successful adaptations, right from ‘Adventures of SherlockHolmes’ to 'Malgudi Days’, closer to home. All this begs the question: What is an adaptation? What are the hallmarks of a successful adaptation?
What makes a good adaptation?
Curled up in bed with a book, savoring the delicious satisfaction of reading is widely different from sitting in a dark cinema hall watching a film with hundreds of others in the audience. The business of adaptation is tricky. To begin with, understanding that books and films are two distinct mediums would help. Trying to be too faithful to the source will not fulfill the requirements of the genre. A book will have to undergo necessary changes to become a screenplay. Certain events, situations, characters in the novel will be lost or diminished while other elements will have to be added and highlighted to make the script effective. 'The Godfather’, considered a perfect film by most, leaves out at least half the book in adaptation, leaving out everything that wasn't related to dewy-eyed Michael becoming the shrewd Don Corleone.
Selection of the text keeping in mind the contemporary taste and viewership is the key to a successful adaptation. These days mythological stories of Lord Ganesha, Bhim, and other Hindu Gods are being adapted for television keeping in mind the increasing number of kids as the audience.
Remember the cult adaptation by B.R. Chopra of the epic Mahabharata. It cast a magic spell on the country every Sunday morning the streets were deserted for all were watching television. But the younger generation does not appreciate it in the same way. That is why an adaptation has to keep pace with the changing sensibilities of the time. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ adapted for the screen in the 1970s may not hold any sway with the contemporary audience of today.
Banes and Bonuses of adaptation.
“The book was better” is a popular axiom. I do not always subscribe to it. But my golden moments in the book have been lost in translation several times. One of my favorite books ‘A flight of Pigeons’ by Ruskin Bond was rendered ineffective in its film adaptation- Junoon by Shyam Benegal. 'A Flight of Pigeons' is set during the mutiny of 1857 in a muflis town of Shahjahanpur in UttarPradesh. The male protagonist of the novel Javed Khan, a courageous Pathan, is quietly besotted with Ruth Labrador and hopes to marry her. He has imprisoned Ruth, her mother and her grandmother in his house after the mutiny. Javed Khan is filled with raging hatred against the colonial British while at the same time is in love with Ruth, a Britisher. The novel very subtly depicts the undercurrents of feelings Javed harbors for Ruth. The film highly undermines the power of subtlety and makes Javed Khan shout out his feelings at the top of his lungs, leaving no room for imagination.
Towards the end of the book, after the sepoy revolt is crushed by the British, Ruth and her mother reach a safe British cantonment. There is an exceptionally powerful scene in the book where Javed Khan is hoping to see Ruth one last time before he turns his back on her forever. Ruth quietly appears from the darkness and stands in front of Javed Khan against her mother’s wishes. Anybody who has read the book would vouch for the impact the scene has on readers. Unfortunately the most important scene in the book falls flat and fails to evoke the same emotional impact as it does in the book.
That’s one of the pitfalls of adaptations. They overwrite our imagination of the characters, how they speak, the scenery of the world in which they exist. The film somehow gives it a finality, diminishing the possibility of imagining it in any other way.
The opposite is also true. If I watch the movie first I can’t help but hear the movie play aloud in my head while reading the book. If I ever read Harinder Sikka’s book - ‘Calling Sehmat’, I would never imagine Sehmat as anyone but Alia Bhatt, now that I have watched ‘Raazi’. An alternate imagination of Sehmat is irreversibly lost to me.
It may be a clever marketing ploy to replace book covers with their film posters. But it annoys the good old book lover in me. I feel it compromises the sanctity of the book, as if the book exists because and for the film. Though it’s not all gloom and doom. Sometimes the film becomes so popular and pulls the book from the realm of darkness to the list of best sellers and keeps them in public eyes for decades.
Film adaptations of books definitely increase the brand value of the author and allows the unfortunates souls who do not find beauty and solace in words to yet get a glimpse into great literature through their film adaptations.
Sounds and Visuals of Aesthetics
Imagine you buy an expensive ticket to your favorite singer’s concert but instead of the singer’s melodious voice you hear disruptive shrieking sounds. Would you enjoy your evening? Or imagine a badly pieced together film where the sound and visuals are out of sync. Or a super hero film with tacky visual effects. Divorce technology from art and the effect would be lackluster. No film, live show, tv series or news can be conceived without technology. Behind the scene technicians of the Media and Entertainment industry are as important as people who appear in front of the camera.
From one state owned channel in the 1900s to more than 800 24*7 active channels today, it is not surprising that in India the Media and Entertainment industry is expected to grow at a rate of 14.3% and touch 2.26 trillion by 2020. The growth is directly proportional to the demand for media technicians.
Sound mixing is such an important part of the entertainment industry today. Commercials, jingles, radio, TV, films, advertisement, videos, websites, computer, mobile games etc all require trained sound engineering professionals. A sound engineer is responsible for correcting every note before it gets to your ears. Imagine a live music concert with bad sound quality. No matter how hard the singer tries to pour in emotions in to the song, if it fails at the technical level it will fail at the emotional level. In India sound engineers have always been integral to the entertainment industry but Resul Pookutty lent respectability to the profession after he won the Oscars for Slum Dog Millionaire in 2009.
A film or a series actually gets made at the editing table. Before that it’s a raw footage with no coherence and sound. A video editor is responsible for matching the audio and video clips and keeping only the most essential and relevant parts of the film. The editor needs to have a knack for the flow of the story. A good editor can make the average footage into a powerful one while a bad one can sometimes render the video embarrassing. A few years ago during an award show actress Kangana Runaut was shown to be receiving an award on the stage while she was also shown to be sitting in the audience applauding in the very next shot. Indeed a true example of bad editing!
The hallmark of a good visual effect is that the audience shouldn’t notice it at all. It is not easy to achieve an intricate fusion of technical finesse and artistry. The visual effects make the story and characters plausible. Cheaply done visual effects will always be a hindrance to the easy absorption of the story by audience. If in Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs didn't seem as real as they do, it would not be difficult to hold the story plausible. Visual effects are now an inseparable part of the entertainment industry.
Learning on the job
A degree or diploma is a good starting point to learn the basics, it gives you some hands on experience of handling the equipments. You can begin by assisting a senior in the industry. Thats when the real learning takes place. It is one field where complacency can cost you your career, technology is evolving everyday and you have to keep pace with the latest development to stay relevant.
Fresh after the diploma, one can expect anything between 10,000-15,000. However, with experience and a zeal for experiment, the sky is the limit. The renumeration can vary from the project to project and the production house one is working with.
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