Does Work From Home Benefitted Women in the IT Sector?

Work from home is a necessity after the Covid-19 pandemic. Following initial lockdown days, many corporate sectors have opened their offices and have resumed work in a fully offline mode or a hybrid mode. However, the majority of the IT sector is still working from home and will continue to do so for some more time. As most of the work is online in the IT industry, productivity has not gone down, and work-life balance seem to have increased following the work from home policy. This is one of the reason the IT sector is not willing to fully open even post-pandemic.

Study gives mixed results when it comes to whether work from home has benefitted women. A study by the New York Post found that men are finding work from home easier compared to women. This can be said mostly for women having school children or kids. While men can work freely at their own desk or corner, women have to manage all the household tasks plus all office work. With their kids and family members around, women are also finding it stressful to maintain a work-life balance. Read more about this study here.

Another study suggests that women leaving IT companies has declined to half of that before the pandemic. Many women leave their jobs after they become mothers, and IT companies are no exception. However, since work from home started, remote working and flexible working hours gives women more time to spend at home, they can look after their children, take care of the household, and at the same time give some of their time towards work. It has also been found that more women are returning to work as their children grow older. IT companies have thus been hiring more experienced women than ever before. Women employees now constitute 36% in Wipro, a number which has doubled in the last 18 months. Moreover, the company has offered flexible working options, which give employees control over how they plan their day, which has also helped. An internal survey by the company revealed that this has helped 77% of women employees.

Another study suggests that WFH is the reason why women are looking for jobs that offer work from home, flexible working conditions, and better worm-like balance. The option to work from home could be the most effective way to attract and retain female employees, especially when IT sectors are amid a war for talent. In the survey, about 25% of the men cited the WFH option as influencing their decision to move jobs, while for women, this was 63%. WFH, or even hybrid model of work is giving enough IT opportunities to grab as most companies are hiring a record number of employees. Work sector in India has been a men dominated one. But with emerging new working conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, gender diversity may increase in almost every field in major IT industries and beyond. This International Women’s Day, let’s hope that Indian women can represent half of India’s workforce in the coming years.

Written by – Himadri Paul

International Mother Language Day

21st February, 1952 was the day when the people of East Pakistan protested against the imposition of Urdu as the sole official language of entire Pakistan. Almost the entire East Pakistan area had a Bengali population, and hence the Bengali people demanded inclusion of Bengali along with Urdu as the official language of Pakistan. This was not going to be, and the Bengalis fought for their independence to protect their mother tongue.

The UN recognized 21st February as the International Mother Language Day, in order to promote multilingualism and linguistic and cultural diversity across the world. Bengali people of East Pakistan ultimately overthrew the oppressive Pakistani rule in 1971 to create an independent country, Bangladesh. It is probably the first country in the world to be born out of protests to protect the mother tongue of her citizens.

The proposal to recognize 21st February as the International Language Day, was put forward by Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam, Bengalis living in Vancouver, Canada. The proposal to create International Mother Language Day was passed by the Bangladesh Government, and subsequently by UNESCO on 17th November, 1999. Bangladeshi people gather around Shaheed Minar of Dhaka to commemorate the lives lost due to the language movement that ultimately resulted in the birth of a new country.

Despite its significance in Bangladesh, 21st February failed to gain popular importance in India and other countries. Even the Bengali-speaking regions of India started recognizing the 21st February as the Language Day only recently. However, Language Day is expected to revive the interest for learning native languages, literature, recreational activities, and develop the cultural aspects of various ethnic groups living all around the world.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Lata Mangeshkar: A voice which will live forever

6th February 2022 is the day, when the greatest singer of all times in Indian history, Lata Mangeshkar, passed away. Aged 93 at the time of death, her seven decade long contribution to Indian music will be remembered forever by all Indians. She recorded songs in over 36 Indian languages, all across the subcontinent, binding India through her songs.

Lata Mangeshkar was born in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in a Maratha family. Her father, Deenanath, was a classical singer in Konkani and Marathi, and theatre actor. Her name was Hema Mangeshkar at the time of her birth. Her parents renamed her as Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays. She received her first music lesson from her father. However, her father passed away when she was only 13. It was then, in 1942, she started her career in singing. In her early days, she also had to act in some roles, apart from singing, but quickly her main focus became on singing only.

Lara’s own style of singing together with her melodious voice became famous all over India within a short span of time. Songs for Bollywood films, patriotic songs, devotional songs, folk songs, songs in regional languages, all spread among the people in all over India. She worked with various renowned music directors like RD Burman, SD Burman, Shiv-Hari, Anand-Milind, Laxmikant-Pyarilal, A.R. Rahman, as well as with co-singers like Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, and Bhupen Hazarika. How many songs she has sung remains a debate even today, with many sources pointing to over 25,000.

Lata Mangeshkar won Padma Bhushan in 1969, followed by Padma Vibhushan in 1999. She won four Filmfare Best Female Playback Singer Award, two Filmfare Special Awards and Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. She also received Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1989, NTR National Award in 2007 and ANR National Award in 2009. France conferred on her its highest civilian award, Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, in 2007. In recognition for the contribution for India, she was awarded the Bharat Ratna Award, India’s highest civilian honour, back in 2001.

Lata Mangeshkar and her songs will remain among Indians forever. Many Indian singers consider her to be their idol, and got inspiration to take up singing to a global platform. Her death will bring an end to a golden era of Indian music. It is now our duty to promote the ideals followed by Lata Mangeshkar and listen to her songs, and promote them to our future generations.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Swami Vivekananda – The Man Behind Youth Day in India

12th January is celebrated all across India as the national youth day, on the occasion of the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna and a monk, is known for his superb speech at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and for establishing the Ramakrishna Mission. However, his journey to success has always been an inspiration to the Indian youth. In this article, let us go through the events that happened in Vivekananda’s life which made him so special.

Vivekananda, in his childhood days, was known by the name Narendra. He was born in Kolkata, on 12th January 1963. Today, his ancestral house has been taken by Ramakrishna Mission and has been converted to a museum and a cultural centre. In his youth days, he joined Keshab Chandra Sen’s Nava Bidhan and Sadharon Brahmo Samaj. In his youth days, Narendra was influenced by the ideas and principles of Brahmo Samaj. Nevertheless, after he met Sri Ramakrishna in 1881, Sri Ramakrishna became his spiritual focus.

Dakshineswar is one of the first place where Narendra went outside the city, to meet Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna was then the first priest of the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, which draws thousands of devotees even today. Narendra used to regularly visit Dakshineshwar to discuss spiritual thoughts with Sri Ramakrishna. After the death of Sri Ramakrishna, Narendra decided to convert a dilapidated building at Baranagar to Ramakrishna Math, today known as Baranagar Math. Today, the house no longer exists, as it was demolished in 1897. The land was given to Belur Math authority and is now undergoing restoration under Belur Math. On the Christmas Eve of 1886, Narendra took monastic vows at Antpur village and left his home and everything else to lead a nomadic life afterwards, taking the title of Swami Vivekananda and becoming a monk.

Swami Vivekananda made two journeys to the west, the first to Chicago via Japan and Canada, where he attended the world Parliament of Religions. He toured across several cities of US, UK and other countries of Europe. On his return to India, he established the Ramakrishna Mission, headquartered at Belur Math, at Belur near Kolkata formed by the trustees of Ramakrishna Math. Even today it is the headquarter of Ramakrishna Mission and a major tourist and pilgrimage place near Kolkata. He went to the west a second time in 1899, to attend the Parliament of Religions in Paris, accompanied by Sister Nivedita and Swami Turiyananda. Detoriating health forced him to settle at Belur Math until his death in 1902.

Vivekananda left a lasting impact in our mind. One of the pioneers of Renaissance in Bengal, his teachings include eliminating the casteism, addressing social issues, promoting science and industrialization. The social service work done by Ramakrishna Mission include relief works in famine, poverty. Vivekananda brought a sense of nationalism and national unity among the Indians against the colonial rule. His quotes are famous throughout the world and are inspiration to the youth. One of his famous quotes “Arise, awake and stop not, until the goal is reached”, still rings in the minds of every Indians.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Gangasagar Mela during 3rd Wave

Last year, the Kumbha Mela at Haridwar formed a massive super spreader from where the second wave of Covid-19 started all over India. Kumbha Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world, was banned by the Uttarakhand Government, though there was no rule stopping pilgrims from visiting as tourists and bathing in the Ganga river. Due to economic as well as cultural reasons, an unofficial gathering of lakhs of people occurred at Haridwar in April 2021. The result was a massive second wave that killed thousands of people all across India.

Gangasagar is the second largest religious gathering, attracting pilgrims from all over the country. Last year, amidst Covid-19, Gangasagar Mela was banned completely and was done online. This resulted in a fairly low Covid-19 count during January and February. Gangasagar Mela is an annual fair occurring every year, unlike the Kumbha Mela, which occurs every year. Hence, doing without the Gangasagar Mela this year would not have caused many problems to the pilgrims and Government alike. However, the Government has walked the other way and has decided to go on with the Gangasagar Mela this year with strict Covid-19 rules.

It is next to impossible to maintain social distancing at a single small beach where lakhs of visitors will bathe on 14th January 2022. It is also impossible to get all pilgrims masked and sanitized at the same time all over the huge island, whether at temple premises or at the ferry. It is also impossible for the Government to mandate RT-PCR tests for pilgrims when there are numerous entry points and means of transportation to Gangasagar island. Most importantly, the state itself is going through its worst phase of Covid-19, when a huge gathering at Park Street, Kolkata during Christmas has become a super spreader for the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Gangasagar Mela can be put on hold for the next year, but the rising Covid-19 cases will lead to massive hospitalization and even death of some of our fellow citizens. Hence it is necessary to avoid the crowd as much as possible during the Gangasagar Mela. It is time to stay at home and make Pitha, a winter delicacy in Bengal. It is time to avoid any large gathering for whatever reason despite double vaccination or negative RT-PCR test, because you may contract the virus anytime from someone else. With record Covid-19 cases in West Bengal, it is up to the visitors and the citizens to control the Covid-19 spread and stop the pandemic once and for all.

Written by – Himadri Paul