Monthly Archives: May 2012

Girls in old city face sexual harassment


S. Sameena, 15, a topper in ninth standard is reluctant to continue her studies after summer vacations. It is not money or lack of interest in studies which is making her have second thoughts about her career. It is eve teasing.

On her way to the school in Falaknuma, she is accosted by four boys who would force her to take their mobile numbers and keep in touch with them.

But for Sameena this is just one side of the problem. She is afraid that her family would blame her of misconduct if she approached them for help.

“Four boys used to follow me everyday on my way to school. They would often block my way and demand that I befriend them. Though I am not at fault, I am afraid of asking my father’s help as I am sure that he will beat me up and force me to discontinue my studies,” she says. It’s better to stop going to school on the pretext that I am not interested in studies than face the blame, she pointed out.

Sameena is not alone in her plight. Many young girls in old city are caught between devil and deep sea as they cannot muster enough courage to approach their parents nor deal with the situation themselves.

“Girls in old city are not an exception in facing harassment at the hands of men, but they are more vulnerable as they feel that they do not have proper avenues to redress this problem. They are always concerned that they will be blamed of improper behaviour when they approach their families,” a NGO worker, Rashmi Kumari said.

These girls are also afraid that they will be married off at an early age if their parents know that some boys are after them, she said. Rashmi was part of a survey done by a city based NGO, Ignis Careers, under the Naandi Foundation ‘Nanhi Kali’ project.

Close to 160 girls, from 11 schools in old city, were interviewed on various parameters under the project. About 37 percent of the respondents complained that they were facing sexual harassment and almost all of them expressed their helplessness in dealing with it, Rashmi said.

Teachers in old city too are at loss in dealing with these incidents.

“Some of our students complain that they are facing harassment on their way to school but we cannot face the wayward boys on our own. Girls are also reluctant to complain to the police as they are afraid of the consequences,” a high school teacher complained.

NGO survey reveals that 37 per cent of them were facing sexual harassment


Hyderabadi youth prefer desktop PCs to tablets

Hyderabad: The younger generation in the city is more active on social media platforms such as Facebook, but unlike other metros, the city’s youth are still heavily dependent on desktop computers to access internet, a survey by software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) reveals.

The ‘TCS GenY Survey 2011-12′ revealed that the youth in other metros prefer to access social media websites through their mobile phones and other devices such as tablet computers. About 12,300 high school students from 12 Indian cities participated in the survey.

Use of Facebook

According to the survey, about 80 per cent of the respondents from the city use Facebook as compared to 19 per cent in year 2009.

But, most of them access internet from desktop PCs and laptops, that too from their homes or in schools. Though 70 per cent students said that they have personal mobile phones, only 31 per cent of them use these gadgets to browse internet.

Compared to other metro cities, children from Hyderabad also have least exposure towards tablet devices, though they are fast replacing laptops as gadgets of choice, the survey found. So why do city youngsters go online? The survey points out that majority children use internet to do research for their school work.

Chatting with friends and listening to music are other popular online activities that the city youngsters indulge in. The city also deviates from other trends observed in major metros.

While the use of instant messaging, along with twitter and Facebook, is on the rise among youth in other cities, Hyderabadis still prefer voice calls and SMS to communicate.

They also lag behind their peers from other metros in watching online movies and communicating through e-mails, the survey found.

While the city’s youth is at deviance with their peers in other metros in regard with their internet and mobile usage, they are on the same wavelength when it comes to career options.

A majority of them indicated IT and engineering as their preferred career choice.


Nathalia Kaur aims at long innings in Bollywood

She set the ramp ablaze while she was just 14 and captured the coveted crown by becoming Kingfisher Calendar Girl – 2012. Now with a peppy item number ‘Dan Dan Cheeni’ in Ram Gopal Varma‘s latest thriller ‘Department’, Nathalia Kaur is aiming for a long innings in Bollywood.

A law graduate from Rio de Janeiro and trained opera singer, Nathalia aspires to make a fruitful career in Indian cine field.

Apart from the fabulous performance in the item number, she has already acted in a Kannada movie and bagged another movie with Varma.

“I find India very hospitable and people here are very warm. I want to make this country my home,” daughter of an half-Indian father says. But will this Brazil-born stunner get stumped because of the language? She claims that language is not a problem for her.

“In a country with more than 250 official languages, I don’t think that I will have any problem. I am already comfortable with Hindi and can speak without accent, instead I have an accent when I speak English and I am working on it,” she says.

To gain proficiency in Indian languages, she carries a book to jot down all the words that she comes across.

No accent problem

“Because of my lineage I do not have accent problems while speaking Indian languages. I think I will be able to manage the languages on my own very soon,” she claims.

But while she proved her mettle in the item song, can she handle the high-wire competitive arena in Bollywood?

Down south

Nathalia thinks she is game for the challenge. “I am a through professional and my approach towards the movies is very different. I believe that a good director can bring life to a character and I have no qualms in donning any role that I am asked to,” she says. She is also training her sight on film industry down south.

Film industry in the south is very vibrant. The industry here is very professional and it also some fantastic technicians and directors. I am looking forward to do more movies in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada,” she adds.

Dividers turn into death traps for motorists

Hyderabad: While road medians installed on many roads and by-lanes are reducing the possibility of head-on collisions among motorists, the battered dividers with deep scratches have a different tale to narrate.

Due to the lack of proper reflective paints, cat eyes and obstruction road paintings, the dividers themselves are causing problems to motorists in the city, particularly on the outskirts and secondary roads.

If the spate of accidents reported in the State capital are any indication, such incidents are on a steady rise. In a recent incident two students died on the spot when their motorcycle rammed a divider near Katta Maisamma temple in Suraram at Dundigal.

No proper signage

Lack of proper street lighting, road markings and reflective paints on the dividers, along with road congestion, are becoming major reasons for accidents involving dividers. Also, road width in the city is not uniform due to which dividers too are of different sizes resulting in mishaps.

“To avoid traffic chaos, a road should ideally have a minimum carriage way of five metres on both sides, after putting up a divider,” P.R. Bhanumurthy, JNTU professor (transportation) said. But even with that width, it is the responsibility of the authorities to provide proper lighting and reflective signage to warn motorists of the impending obstruction, he explained.

Motorists commuting on Outer Ring Road (ORR) are particularly vulnerable as the wider roads entice the motorists to step on the gas, but due to the lack of proper signage are at risk of colliding with the dividers. The sight of a battered four wheeler perched precariously on a divider has now become part of suburban folklore.

Driving with care

“Motorists will automatically avoid the obstructions if proper obstructive road signage is made at the junctions and dividers. But without these markings and proper street lighting there is always a possibility of motorists ramming the medians,” Prof. Bhanumurthy opined.

Another problem that the motorists face is when a divider comes up on a road overnight, catching regular commuters off-guard. To prevent accidents motorists too should drive defensively, especially during nights, he added.

Reflective signage

However, traffic authorities point out that it is the responsibility of municipal officials to install reflective signage. “GHMC has to install reflective signage and other related items on the roads and we are coordinating with them regularly to check the progress,” DCP Traffic (North) P.V.S. Ramakrishna said.

“Many dividers in the city are broken as motorists collide with them. GHMC authorities have assured us that they will rectify these dividers along with providing reflective signage,” he explained.

This article was published in The Hindu on May 22, 2012

Being lax can cost you dearly

HYDERABAD: It’s a cherished dream for many to ‘own’ an abode where they can unwind in peace after a long and tedious slo at work. But the process of buying or building a house is indeed very tedious. A popular adage says that the amount of hardships that one has to undergo while building a house have very few equivalents.

While reaching the decision of buying a house is tough one in itself, the actual troubles for a prospective ‘home hunter’ starts just after that decision is taken. From escalating costs to delay in construction to securing enough finances and managing the contractors and construction workers, the travails that an aspirant has to go through are indeed many. But the most important step that any prospective customer needs to take is to exercise utmost caution while identifying a suitable property.

“The first hurdle that any person has to cross is to identify a property that is in an area that one wants and also comes within his budget. It is also important for him to ensure that the title deeds of the property are clear and is free of litigations,” a builder said.

“Property dealings are very irksome and can cause a lot of trouble. Many people have lost their hard earned money as they invested in a property without clear papers. If the investment is huge, taking a professional legal advice from an advocate regarding the land documents is a better idea,” he opined.

But if you thought that buying a flat, instead of a plot removes the burden of verifying documents off your shoulders, experts warn that being lax about such documents can cost one dearly.

A person interested in buying a flat should also be careful about the documents such as land papers, building plan approvals, clearance certificates from municipal and other utility companies and departments, link documents, among others. But apart from these mandatory checks, it is also advantageous if one chooses a builder with good reputation and the projects that are cleared by banks.

“Buying a flat from a builder with good track record makes good sense as we can be sure of the quality of construction to a reasonable extent. The reputation of a builder also helps in raising a loan easily,” A. Mathew, a bank manager said.

“Raising a loan is much easier if a project has prior approval from a bank. This is because a bank would have vetted the documents of a property along with a host of other mandatory clearances. In other words, a bank has already taken a favourable decision to extend loan against such a project,” he explained.

This article was published in The Hindu on May 19, 2012

To buy or not to buy: dilemma faced by real estate consumers

HYDERABAD: The demography of India is tilting favourably towards youth and with each passing year scores of young professionals are entering the job market. With hefty pay packages and ‘stars’ in their eyes, a sizeable chunk of these youngsters are indeed aiming for better positions and are poised for brighter careers.

But while the changing economy and the associated ‘perks’ are changing the lifestyles of the people; one quintessential Indian trait still lingers on. The desire to own a house. The increase in the well paid workforce is indeed providing a perennial demand to the real estate sector.

Name it anything, a place to settle in, a way of reducing expenditure or a simple investment opportunity, there are many incentives for owning a house. But while most people have a strong desire to own their abode, they, nevertheless, are deterred by many daunting obstacles.

And the first one of the lot is to take the very decision of buying a house. “We would like to buy a house but the very fact that we have to take a decision right way scares us. There are few variables that we have to factor in before taking this plunge,” Satish Kumar and Veena Rani, a couple working in IT industry, says. The dilemma that this couple face is that there is a possibility for them to move out of the country on a three-year assignment. “We have few choices here. We can buy a house now and give it on rent or come back to the country with better savings and buy a better house in a gated community,” Satish mulls. “And then there is the question of whether we will settle in this city. If we are not settling in this city, we will be struck with an investment that we cannot look after,” he adds.

While taking the plunge is a hard step for consumers, builders too advise that the decision of buying a house should be taken after careful deliberations. “If a person can afford to buy a home within his salary he should not have a problem in buying a home. Investing in real estate indeed makes for a sound economic judgement. But if a person has to take a loan to buy a house, he has to be careful before taking the plunge,” Janardhan Reddy, a builder observes. To help a person in taking the decision, Reddy gives a checklist. “A person has to decide as to whether he is buying a house or flat to settle in it or is he taking it as an investment. If he is taking it for settling down, then the distance from work place, connectivity and civic amenities available in the area play a major role in taking the decision. Typically such people would look for a house in the core areas of the city or those near their work place,” he says. But if a person is looking at buying the house only for investment purpose, he can go a little easy on these parameters. This, he explains, is because over a period of time any area in a city is bound to develop. “The real estate rates are bound to go up and by the time a person decides to sell his property, the area would have developed sufficiently and would invariably fetch him a good bargain,” he said.

The article was published in Property Plus supplement of The Hindu on May 12, 2012.

Young professionals preferring to buy house early in their careers

HYDERABAD: Suresh Kumar, a 26-year old software engineer is a busy man. He joined a leading multinational company three years ago and is now looking out to ‘settle’ in his life. While few years ago settling in life, at Suresh’s age, meant getting married, Suresh thinks otherwise.

Before getting married, Suresh is determined to buy a house. “I want to first buy a house and then only think of tying the knot. Buying a house before marriage is a better option as it will give me a semblance of security,” he says. And Suresh is not the only young professional with such ideas. Few decades ago, buying a house was the final step that a person would take to settle in his life. Most often, one would buy a house at the fag end of his career with the money that he accumulated during his log working life. This would give a modicum of security to a person in his penultimate years, or so earlier generations thought.

With the rise of new economy and with its inherent volatility, the situation is different now and younger generation prefers to own a house very early in their careers. “Though we are well paid, we do not have the job security which our earlier generations enjoyed. Without the security provisions like retirement benefits and stable pension, it is too risky for a young professional to wait till his retirement to buy a house,” Siddhartha M., an IT professional explains.

Apart from this, with sky rocketing house rentals, it also makes sense for a professional to purchase a house with loan and clear it with monthly instalments. This way, one can own a piece of property with almost similar cost that one would shell out if he stays in a rented house, he adds.

While these reasons are quite valid, buying a house early in the career can also have an investment value.

“In spite of economic downturn, the real estate market is on a stable upward trajectory. While financial instruments like shares and bonds can loose their sheen, buying a property will not only ensure that the value of your investment remains stable, it will also give a decent return,” Hari Krishna, an investment banker says.

With the ever booming population, the share of young professionals in the total population is set to rise in the coming decades and this means that real estate sector is in for a long term growth, Hari Krishna points out. This, he says, is because all these professionals will try to settle and own a house. In case a professional is forced to move out of the city because of his job requirements, he can either rent his house or sell it for a higher price. Both of these options are lucrative, Hari Krishna points.

The article was published in “Property Plus’ supplement of The Hindu on May 05, 2012.

Leverage socialmedia better

HYDERABAD: It is a common knowledge that current generation is very active on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But what do they do on these platforms? Bond with their friends? Meet strangers with similar tastes and interests? Tell their peer group what they are doing?

While social media websites make it possible for youngsters to do all these, Shantanu Ghosh, an authority on social media feels that younger generation is not using the platform efficiently.

Social media, more than anything else, has the ability to create a strong personal brand and youngsters should try and utilise it better,” he says.

In the current networked world, where a person can connect with professionals from across the world, social media websites help in providing an efficient platform and hence they should be extra cautious in the way they use these sites, he points.

“In social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn a person can create a strong brand and further his career prospects but sadly most youngsters limit their accounts for personal use,” he explains.

With HR professionals increasingly turning to the social media websites to scout for the talent, it is vitally important for a person to create a better personal brand, he explained.

Human Resource (HR) professionals also concur with Prof. Ghosh. “Many people create online profiles with pictures of film stars and other popular figures.

zThe moment we come across such a profile, we disregard the candidature of that person,” a HR professional revealed. Like in real world a person has to create a credible presence in the online world without which it is not possible for him to secure a better job, the professional said.

After all, the whole trade of ‘head hunting’ (HR term for scouting a suitable candidate) depends on credibility of a person, the professional quipped.

So if creating a credible online presence is a necessity, what should a youngster do towards this endeavour? Prof. Ghosh gives out few points to help a person in creating a better online profile.

First, a person should identify his target clearly. “One should first decide upon which field he wants to excel in. Then he should join the networks or groups, available on social media platforms, regarding that field. This way a candidate will have opportunity to interact with professionals and can keep himself updated about the latest developments in that field,” Prof. Ghosh explains.

Joining the groups also has another advantage, he point out. By participating in the discussions in those groups one can also increase his visibility on the platform there by generating credibility, he said.

Prof. Ghosh advises that a person should share the information that he stumbles upon.

Credibility of a person increases when he shares substantial information on the net. This not only helps people, but will also help in creating the brand value of a person,” he said.

“Gone are the days when one could out smart a competitor by knowing more than him. With information being available on the net freely, everyone has equal access to it. A person should instead share the information so that his peers can be benefited by it and in turn increase his popularity,” professor points out.

The article was published in The Hindu on May 07, 2012.

Also read my article on Career opportunities through socialmedia

Social media throws up many job opportunities

Hyderabad: With social media gaining steady popularity, the traditional methods employed by the recruiters to identify a suitable candidate are increasingly becoming obsolete. Recruiters are now looking towards social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to spot the talent. And this necessitates candidates to have a better online presence to corner the desired job.

Shantanu Ghosh, an authority on social media and its implications for business practices agrees. Contrary to the popular perception that social media is not a credible platform for recruiters to scout for the talent, Prof. Ghosh argues that the very basis of social media stands on the credibility of a person and aspirants should maintain a ‘credible’ online profile.

“Online acquaintances and relationships are very fragile and anyone can leave a network without prior information. Only credibility and resourcefulness can hold one’s reputation and ensure a better following in the social media,” explains Prof. Ghosh, who was a business development head in Singapore for a leading multi-national.

In social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter a recruiter can easily follow a person’s activity and hence can understand his personality. Because of this it becomes easy for a recruiter to zero in on a preferred candidate.

But Prof. Ghosh cautions that online search for a job may not be that easy for a fresher. “Because of lack of proper awareness, college students and fresh graduates are failing to harness the power of social media in promoting their careers and these youngsters are limiting their social media presence for personal reasons,” he said. HR professionals are relying on social media for spotting a candidate for middle and senior level positions instead, he said.

But while there is much ado about the rise of social media and its implications, will these strategies be successful in India? “LinkedIn has become a de-facto tool for hiring a senior level professional and sooner than later the job portals will loose their sheen. For entry level jobs, companies prefer posting the job vacancies on Facebook as younger generation is active on that platform,” agreed a HR professional of a leading company.

While HR professionals are looking into social media profiles to track a prospective candidate, they also have evolved the pattern of this evaluation. “While finalising a candidate, companies are preferring a professional who is already doing well in his present job and is active on social media,” A.K. Menon CEO of Options Executive Search, explained.

Terming these professionals as ‘Passive Job Seekers’, Mr. Menon says that companies are not inclined to select a candidate who creates a online profile in search of a job. “One has to maintain a continuous presence on social media and build credibility over time,” he opined.

This article was published in The Hindu on April 30, 2012

Also read how my next blog on Leveraging socialmedia better