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Course on stress management


Course on stress management

VISAKHAPATNAM: Mental health experts in the city have decided to hold a diploma course for parents, teachers, and nurses. The diploma course covers as many as 18 topics focusing on stress management.

Similarly, Aashadeep Foundation, an NGO, was formed in the city on Sunday to create awareness among people on depression and suicide prevention. HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao launched the NGO.

Mental health experts said depression is fast turning into a lifestyle disease and even adversely affecting children. “Very often depression goes unnoticed. It’s becoming a chronic problem leading to suicidal tendencies. Given the situation, there’s need for creation of awareness,” they said.

Aashadeep Foundation director V Hari Lakshmi, who is also a professor of psychology, said teachers and parents will be trained to identify depression and other mental ill health symptoms in the early stages. “The aim is to remove stigma for mental health problems and treat them in the same way as physical problems by trained professional counsellors,” she added.

Meanwhile, Psyacademy and Counseling Services (PACS) said it will help develop psychological skills through knowledge and training. The academy will offer a diploma and an advanced diploma course for the benefit of the common man.

Experts say depression goes unnoticed leading to suicidal tendencies.

 

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Meet on ‘Innovative Management Strategies’


Meet on ‘Innovative Management Strategies’

Actor Nara Rohith performing a few dance steps with a student after inaugurating the programme ‘ASHV-15’ at Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science (MITS), Madanapalle. –Photo: by arrangement

Actor Nara Rohith performing a few dance steps with a student after inaugurating the programme ‘ASHV-15’ at Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science (MITS), Madanapalle. –Photo: by arrangement

Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science (MITS) conducted a two-day international conference on ‘Innovative Management Strategies’ under the aegis of its Department of Management Studies last week.

Technical sessions

The event, which was interspersed with technical sessions, paper presentations and informative debates, deliberated upon innovation, in which experts roped in from academia and industry played an active part.

Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE) Chairman L. Venugopal Reddy spoke on the need for innovative management strategies in various sectors of the economy and also explained about the country’s struggle for quality education in schools, colleges and universities.

Andhra University professor K. Sambasiva Rao, IBM Deputy General Manager P. Sasidhar, NCR Corporation General Manager Phani Kumar and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha Registrar C. Uma Shankar referred to the global management practices towards achieving excellence.

Spirit Sense (Austria) professor Edwin Zappe, San Jose State University (USA) Biomedical Chemical and Materials Engineering professor Claire Komives, J.S.S. Karasburg Lordsville (Namibia) motivational speaker Lusia Ndahafa Nghitotelwa were among the other speakers.

‘ASHV-15’

Meanwhile, a mega event ‘ASHV-15’ began on the campus on Friday in which popular actor Nara Rohith turned out to be the star attraction.

B. Venkat Sandeep

in Tirupati

 

The rising tide @ MOOCs


MOOCs are all set to revolutionise education. How is this going to happen?

MOOCs have been a popular topic in the education industry for the past few years. As we stand in the midst of this decade, it’s encouraging to evaluate how the online learning industry has grown and to predict future trends.

MOOCs have clearly been a game-changing initiative, and I see an overwhelming response from learners across all ages keen to engage more with online education. MOOCs have the potential to create massive prospects and opportunities for students, employers and educators. They are not only bringing education to more people, they are also tailoring the learning experience to meet the needs of tomorrow’s students, universities and employers. As colleges and universities see the impact of MOOCs on learning, we’ll see more blended classrooms incorporated into the curriculum. We’ll see student satisfaction levels rise, along with professors who will be freed to spend more time to collaborate with students and on research.

Game changer

We’ll also see the educational system become more efficient and deliver better outcomes for the investment; all of this aggregating to a reduced skill gap. Some of the major trends that I expect will continue in the online learning space include:

More and more free MOOCs will allow for increased access to high-quality education. Students worldwide will have access to virtually any course subject in just about any language.

MOOCs will continue to deliver a personalised learning experience through evolving interactive technologies. Students will be presented with multiple learning pathways to navigate courses that fit specific learning styles and speeds.

Credentials will be reborn. Traditional credentials valued today will diversify, moving beyond the college degree as employers increasingly accept certificates for MOOC courses.

The blended model will continue to rise in popularity. College campus coursework will combine in-person and online learning; a shift driven by student demand for the convenience and effectiveness of online learning.

Leveraging online courses, higher education will occur not just over four years, but a lifetime. Students will become continuous learners, cultivating new skillsets throughout their careers.

In the near future, MOOC certificates will transfer to course credit in similar ways as AP credits and transfer credits.

MOOCs will be our new textbooks. These new “textbooks” will also include videos, game like simulations and interactive exercises, helping to enrich and expand the learning experience.

Increasingly, MOOCs will help better prepare students for college. Students and colleges will use MOOCs to help close the college readiness gap and ensure students are prepared for their next level of study.

MOOCs will be used in building professional capacity as well. Employees will be encouraged to take online courses with self-assessment preparedness tests in specific skill sets when hired. Additionally, professionals will use MOOCs to keep pace with emerging trends and technologies.

Growing institutions, especially in developing nations, will aggregate existing MOOC courses into synthesised programmes. These ‘digital dormitories’ may augment online learning by also providing students with a campus like experience. Educators have long known that each student is an individual, with unique needs, talents and goals. And, we are in an exciting time as education is evolving to meet new student needs while maintaining its goals and mission.

The writer is the CEO of edX.

As colleges and universities see the impact of MOOCs on learning, we’ll see more blended classrooms incorporated into the curriculum.

A step forward


A step forward:

Students came up with several innovative and realistic methods to maximise out reach facilities for amputee rehabilitation at the University of Strathclyde’s MIT Mukti Challenge.

Winners:Praneeta Konduri and Srinidhi Ragunathan.

Winners:Praneeta Konduri and Srinidhi Ragunathan.

An intracollegiate competition that was designed to test the mind, the Strathclyde MIT Mukti Challenge was conducted by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland for students pursuing their final-year B.Tech. in Biomedical Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology. Praneeta Konduri and Srinidhi Ragunathan emerged winners.

The participants were expected to summarise their views on the current facilities for amputee rehabilitation in India, provide innovative and realistic methods to maximise outreach and also propose new strategies to achieve the same. “We proposed a scheme that would considerably increase the outreach, especially in the rural areas. We focussed on the administrative aspects and explained new methods of manufacturing prosthetics and orthotics in order to offset the cost of establishing this system,” says Praneeta, while Srinidhi adds, “To show the implementation of this scheme at the State level, we even provided them with an example. The competition was quite challenging as we were given just a weekend to develop and summarise our ideas.”

Learning experience

Both got the opportunity to visit the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Strathclyde for a week, and spent the next week at The Mukti Clinic in Chennai. “The first week was a classroom programme, where we learnt about designing prosthesis and orthotics. We were taken on a tour of the National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics (NCPO) and the Bio-Engineering Department of the university. We also had the opportunity to interact with firms like Taylarmade, Ossur and LL Prosthetics and Orthotics,” say the winners. They were also taken on visits to research facilities like the AFRC (Advanced Forming Research Centre), DMEM (Design Manufacturing and Engineering Management) Design Suite and GAIT Analysis Labs. “We were provided with an outline of the strategies and schemes that Scotland adapts to provide rehabilitation facilities to amputees. This project provided an amalgamation of technical and managerial aptitude,” says Praneeta.

At Mukti, the students helped the NCPO students in manufacturing splints and prosthesis for the patients. “The foundation caters to a section of the people who cannot afford high-end prosthesis. Those who work here are extremely selfless, committing themselves to such a noble pursuit and it was great working alongside them,” says Srinidhi.

After their enriching experience, Praneeta wants to pursue a master’s degree in medical image processing and eventually work in the field of diagnostics while Srinidhi is looking at studying image processing or prosthetics and orthotics.

5000 take part in “sensitivity run”


5000 take part in “sensitivity run”.

To create a feeling of sensitivity and equality in the minds of young children, over 5000 schoolchildren — along with paraolympic athletes, children with disabilities, skaters, cyclists and NCC cadets– took part in a 3 km run at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Sunday.

The run organised on the occasion of the International Day of Sports for Development as Change Makers was flagged off by ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh in the presence of renowned sports persons like H N Girisha – 2012 London Paralympic silver medallist high jumper and other distinguished sports personalities and guests.

The event was organised by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) and was supported by the Sports Authority of India and Ministry of Social Justice, Government of India.

“We at PCI strongly believe that any change we desire to see in the society should start from our young citizens, our children and youth who bear the burden of crafting a new society on their tender shoulders. A child’s heart is the purest place and we are putting a huge effort to positively influence and bring ample sensitivity in their perception and attitude towards specially-abled and people with impairment,” said president of PCI Rajesh Tomar.

“This entire sports event is designed in a way where we will be teaching and instilling sensitivity in normal children by bringing together normal children and people with impairment, showing them that children with disability can also perform and talking extensively about the issue to them.

This is a small but solid step towards creating the sensitivity in children,” added Tomar.PTI

 

Eat less, live longer


want to live more then “Eat less.. live longer !!

A reduced-calorie diet may be the key to longevity, according to a study

Monkeys on a reduced-calorie diet live longer than those that can eat as much as they want, a research suggests. The findings add to a thread of studies on how a restricted diet prolongs life in a range of species. In the study, which has been running since 1989 at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Centre in Madison, 38 rhesus macaques that were allowed to eat whatever they wanted were nearly twice as likely to die at any age than were 38 monkeys whose calorific intake was cut by 30 per cent.

The same study reported in 2009 that calorie-restricted monkeys were less likely to die of age-related causes than control monkeys, but had similar overall mortality rates at all ages.

“We set out to test the hypothesis — would calorie restriction delay ageing? And I think we’ve shown that it does,” said Rozalyn Anderson, a biochemist at the University of Wisconsin who led the study.

Eating a very low-calorie diet has been shown to prolong the lives of mice, leading to speculation that such a diet triggers a biochemical pathway that promotes survival.

But what that pathway might be — and whether humans have it — has been a matter of hot debate.

Another 2012 study at the US National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Bethesda, Maryland, cast doubt on the idea, reporting that monkeys on low-calorie diets did not live longer than those that ate more food.

“Are we seeing health benefits? Yes, but I do not know that we are necessarily seeing survival benefits,” said Julie Mattison, a physiologist at the NIA.

Two key factors — the composition of the diet and the feeding regimen — could account for the different results.

But according to Anderson, the new findings are good news. “I have no doubt the results will be relevant to how we are treating people in geriatric clinics 10 years from now,” she emphasised in the study published in the journal Nature Communications .

IANS

 

Helping hands


Helping hands

A boy harvesting mustard in a field on the outskirts of Delhi.— Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

A boy harvesting mustard in a field on the outskirts of Delhi.— Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

WW-I Indian heroes to be honoured by U.K.


Indian soldiers who took part in World War I will be honoured by the United Kingdom through a series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the war this year.

The British High Commission, along with the United Service Institution of India, has planned a series of events to commemorate Indian involvement in the war which began in 1914. “One million Indian soldiers fought the war and over 70,000 Indian servicemen died. We intend to honour their memory this year with an important series of events,” U.K. High Commissioner to India James Bevan told reporters here today. PTI

 

World’s first solar-powered toilet set for India launch


A revolutionary waterless toilet powered by the sun, developed to help some of the 2.5 billion people lacking safe and sustainable sanitation around the world, will be unveiled in India this month.

Designed and built using a $777,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the self-contained, waterless toilet with its innovative technology converts human waste to biochar, a highly porous charcoal. It aims to provide an eco-friendly solution to help some of the 2.5 billion people around the world lacking safe sanitation.

The toilet has the capability of heating human waste to a high enough temperature to sterilise it and create biochar, a highly porous charcoal, said Karl Linden, project principal investigator and professor at the University of Colorado. The biochar has a one-two punch in that it can be used to both increase crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

The project is part of the Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge,” an effort to develop a next-generation toilet that can be used to disinfect liquid and solid waste while generating useful end products, both in developing and developed nations, said Mr. Linden.

 

While the current toilet has been created to serve four to six people a day, a larger facility that could serve several households simultaneously is under design. — PTI

 

Harry Potter fans can soon ride Hogwarts Express


An artist’s rendering, released by Universal Orlando, shows the new Harry Potter area called Diagon Alley.— Photo: AP

An artist’s rendering, released by Universal Orlando, shows the new Harry Potter area called Diagon Alley.— Photo: AP

The new Harry Potter-themed area opening at Universal Orlando Resort this summer will allow fans to ride the Hogwarts Express train and experience the British countryside just as the characters did in the book and movie series. Guests will appear to magically pass through a brick wall and board a train with steam and a whistle, according to a Friday news release from Universal Orlando Resort.

Riders will have two experiences, one on the way to the new London-themed area at Universal Studios Park and another on the way to the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. During the ride, characters and magical creatures from the book will be spotted. Among them — Hagrid on a flying motorbike, the Weasley twins on brooms, and the Knight Bus in London traffic. — AP

 

A safety app from BJP for women


In the poll season, the Bharatiya Janata Party is wooing women with the launch of a safety mobile application on Friday. Named Raksha (security), the application allows women to sound an alarm in an emergency.

Conceptualised by party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, it will send out the location even without the user switching on Raksha, with the press of a key. It will create a group of trusted people who can be alerted, besides offering a map view for easy navigation and providing a loud buzzer.

“Even if the Raksha application is switched off and isn’t running, press the volume key for just three seconds and it will alert the contacts you have chosen beforehand. Your exact location is sent to them on a map,” Ms. Lekhi said.

In the prevailing “atmosphere of insecurity, from borders to streets,” this application is very much needed, says the BJP leader.

 

wooing voters


Former Miss India and Aam Aadmi Party candidate Gul Panag interacting with morning joggers in Chandigarh on Friday. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar
Former Miss India and Aam Aadmi Party candidate Gul Panag interacting with morning joggers in Chandigarh on Friday. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

Gigantic attraction


A large number of visitors arrive at the Begumpet airport to get a glance of the Airbus A380, on the last day of its display, at the India Aviation Show on Friday.— Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

A large number of visitors arrive at the Begumpet airport to get a glance of the Airbus A380, on the last day of its display, at the India Aviation Show on Friday.— Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

Personality development course


Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, Hyderabad, will conduct a ‘Personality Development Certificate Course’ from March 16.

For details, call 040-2762 7961

 

 

Keeping the tradition alive


Artistes performing at the Folk Dance and Music festival organised in Bhubaneswar on Friday.Photo: Lingaraj Panda
Artistes performing at the Folk Dance and Music festival organised in Bhubaneswar on Friday.Photo: Lingaraj Panda

Sweet spot


Afghan workers prepare 'Jelabi', a traditional sweet, in a factory in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday. The war-torn country faces the challenges of poverty, unemployment and a lack of infrastructure.— PHOTO: AP
Afghan workers prepare ‘Jelabi’, a traditional sweet, in a factory in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday. The war-torn country faces the challenges of poverty, unemployment and a lack of infrastructure.— PHOTO: AP

Art In Bottle @ Ramesh Raaj.


 chalk carving

Art in a bottleRamesh Raaja with a drawing of Somnathpura temple; (right) chalk carvingPHOTO: NAGARA GOPAL

Art in a bottle Ramesh Raja with a drawing of Somnathpura temple,PHOTO: NAGARA GOPAL

Artist V. Ramesh Raaja’s Seven Wonders of the World are carved out of a chalk

It is your regular Gentamicin bottle but look closely and you will find the Seven Wonders of the World standing pretty inside the bottle. As one wonders how the seven wonders fit into an injection bottle, its creator, artist V. Ramesh Raaja, reveals they are all made of chalk. The Mahbubnagar-based artist-cum-drawing teacher has already made it to the India Book of Records for this piece of wonder.

Ramesh Raaja’s tryst with chalk began with Hyderabad. “I casually carved a Charminar out of chalk and inserted it inside an injection bottle,” he recalls. The appreciation he received for this piece of work encouraged him to think big. “I decided to create something which is universally loved and celebrated all over,” he says. He chose the Seven Wonders of the World and worked on it for three days. “It is not easy to work with a chalk— it is fragile and can break easily,” he says. He created different elements of the seven wonders, delicately bonded them with a fevicol and inserted them in a bottle. “While the bottle’s total height is 3.3 cm, its inner height is 2.25 cm; lid diameter is 0.75 cm and inner bottom diameter is 1.4 cm. You can imagine how careful one has to be while inserting the creations. Among the seven wonders, the statue of Christ the Redeemer was tough to create as the hands, hair and beard of Jesus had to be created separately and joined,” he remembers.

This Gentamicin bottle with its Wonders was Ramesh’s constant companion until he got an entry in the record books. “I used to carry it in my pocket and show it to friends. After the recognition, I realised it is a prized possession and needs to be treated with care,” he smiles.

As an artist Ramesh works with different media like canvas and oil, acrylics, pen and watercolours. His interest lies in traditional subjects like mythology, nature and temples in India. “Fascinated by our culture, foreigners leave the west and come to India to spend some time here. But we Indians are indifferent and neglect our rich tradition,” he rues.

His works Ajantha 19th cave, an exquisite drawing of Somnathpura, Gomateshwara temple, Ekashila ratham are all unique works of art. “The viewer might not notice it but one has to understand the structure well to draw a temple and get its symmetry,” he says. Besides Hyderabad, the artist has shown his works in Mumbai, Aurangabad, Anantapur and Jadcharla. On a parting note he says his dream is to be known as a ‘great traditional artist.’

N. Korean dictators wrote books for kids?


Researcher finds Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung are credited with fiercely ideological but ‘quite enjoyable’ tales

From Madonna to Barack Obama, celebrities and politicians have long been tempted to dabble in the world of children’s books — but their output pales in comparison to the “ultra” violent tales for children apparently written by North Korea’s former leaders Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung, according to an Australian academic.

Christopher Richardson, who is researching North Korean children’s literature for his PhD at Sydney University, says the late former leaders of North Korea are both credited with writing children’s stories, with Kim Jong-il the apparent author of Boys Wipe Out Bandits, “an ode to the redemptive power of ultra-violence”, he writes in an article published in the International Review of Korean Studies, and Kim Il-sung acknowledged as the author behind the anti-American fable The Butterfly and The Cock.

Foster revolutionary consciousness

Boys Wipe Out Bandits, first published in 1989, is “adapted from a story the Dear Leader ‘one day’ dreamed up as a child himself”, writes Richardson, in which “cultural impurities, capitalist degeneracy, and rampant individualism are defeated by the pure virtue of the collective”.

The story sees a vulnerable village — a metaphor for North Korea — surrounded by enemies: “monster-like creatures” whose captain is “ogre-like”, writes Richardson, with cysts on his shoulder which “emit noxious gas when pierced”. The villagers, in contrast, are “beautifully attired and softly-drawn”, and the story concludes as the children punish the intruders with “merciless violence”.

“As the sun rises, a triumphant [hero] Ye-dong restates the moral of the story, the wisdom of a child declaring that, ‘no matter how formidable they are, we can defeat the enemy when we pool our strength and wisdom and have courage. Let’s build our village to be an earthly paradise’,” writes Richardson.

Employed ghost writers

Although the story was published in his name, Richardson is sceptical about whether Kim Jong-il really wrote it. “Even the publishers in the DPRK maintain a degree of ambiguity about the authorship of these tales, attributing the stories to Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, whilst acknowledging they were written down by someone else,” he told the Guardian. “The government thus musters a team of ghost writers whose job is to capture the essence of the leader’s political and literary wisdom, known as ‘the seed’”

The Butterfly and The Cock, meanwhile, is a fable said to have first been told by Kim Il-sung and then written down. It is the story of how a cockerel, intended to symbolise America, sets out to bully other animals, but a butterfly — representing North Korea — steps in.Animated versions

YouTube shows a recent state television animated adaptation of the story, with “some delightfully typical NK-style music at the beginning, singing at the end, ” said Richardson.

A Winged Horse is another children’s story from Kim Il-sung, in which the country is under threat from Japanese invaders, but a child saves the day on a flying horse.

Enjoyable

“I was astounded that children’s books (purportedly) written by Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung were vastly readable,” he said. But “nevertheless, despite the variety of genre and style” in the books, “there always remained that singular unity of intent, reinforcing a consistent political message, national cohesion, ideological purity.— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

GLOBAL AWARD FOR WOMEN ARCHITECTS


Indian architect Shimul Jhaveri Kadri of SJK Architects, Mumbai, won a Special Mention in arcVision 2014, an annual award for women architects. The main arcVision prize was bagged by Portuguese architect Ines Lobo. Kadri and Lobo were chosen from a shortlist of 21 architects representing 15 countries.

Instituted last year by Italian cement company Italcementi, the arcVision award honours the best women in architecture, a profession that worldwide has been less than inviting to women practitioners. A global award of this kind is expected to be reparation for the long neglect, and recognition for some of the truly fantastic spaces that women are creating around the world.

Lobo has worked chiefly on converting pre-existing buildings into areas used for social purposes. She takes old buildings, adds new facets to them, and creates a new and beautiful space. As for Kadri, her Nirvana Film building in Bangalore is justly famous, but she also won praise for projects like the factory in Karur where she integrates local material and techniques to create a global workspace. The ceremony was held in Bergamo, Italy.

 

Working from home can raise productivity


Nicholas Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University, and graduate student James Liang, who is also a co-founder of the Chinese travel website Ctrip, gave the staff at Ctrip’s call centre the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers were allowed to telecommute; the rest remained in the office as a control group. Survey responses and performance data revealed that, in comparison with the employees who came into the office, the at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit but also more productive.

Scott Berinato , a senior editor at Harvard Business Review interviewed Nicholas Bloom on the pros and cons of working from home which emerged from the study. Excerpts:

Should more of us be doing our jobs in our pajamas? Would the performance of employees actually improve if companies let them stay home? Professor Bloom, defend your research.

The results we saw at Ctrip blew me away. Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the discipline of the office environment. Instead, we found that people working from home completed 13.5 per cent more calls than the staff in the office did — meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They also quit at half the rate of people in the office — way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.

And how much did Ctrip save on furniture and space?

It estimated that it saved $1,900 per employee for the nine months.

Lower attrition rates make sense — working from home gives you more flexibility if you have kids and so forth — but how do you explain the productivity increases? Why would people get more done out of the office?

One-third of the productivity increase, we think, was due to having a quieter environment, which makes it easier to process calls. At home people don’t experience what we call the “cake in the break room” effect. Offices are actually incredibly distracting places. The other two-thirds can be attributed to the fact that the people at home worked more hours. They started earlier, took shorter breaks and worked until the end of the day. They had no need to commute. They didn’t run errands at lunch. Sick days for employees working from home plummeted. Search “working remotely” on the Web, and everything that comes up will be super-negative and say that telecommuters don’t work as hard as people in the office. But actually, it’s quite the opposite.

So Marissa Mayer, who famously banned working from home at Yahoo last year, was wrong?

It’s not so simple. There are lots of factors that could lead to such a ban, including a culture where remote workers tend to be slacking because of low morale. Also, we were studying call centre work, which is easily measured and easily performed remotely.

Did workers know they were being measured for productivity? Could there have been a grace period when they were trying to prove that working at home works, after which their efforts tailed off?

That’s an important concern. Ctrip tried to address it by running the experiment for nine months. The positive impact of working from home was pretty constant over that entire period, suggesting that it wasn’t driven just by some initial burst of enthusiasm.

Will knowledge and creative workers also be more productive at home?

The more robotic the work, the greater the benefits, we think. More research needs to be done on creative work and teamwork, but the evidence still suggests that with most jobs, a good rule of thumb is to let employees have one to two days a week at home. It’s hugely beneficial to their well-being, helps you attract talent and lowers attrition. JetBlue allows folks to work as far as three hours from headquarters — close enough to come in now and again but a much bigger radius from which it can draw applicants. When I asked the people at JetBlue about this policy, they said it helped them gain access to educated, high-ability mothers who wanted flexibility in their jobs. The airline believes this policy has improved the quality of its workforce.

Who else likes the work-from-home option?

People who have established social lives — older workers, married workers, parents. We found that the younger workers whose social lives are more connected to the office tend to not want to work from home as much. Right now the employees who spend significant amounts of time working from home are on either end of the income spectrum: solitary, per-hour workers like call centre reps, proofreaders and developers, whose output can be easily tracked; or professionals and senior managers, who presumably are highly self-motivated.

Is there anyone who can’t or shouldn’t work from home?

Absolutely. Not everybody wants to or is disciplined enough to. At Ctrip, it was a self-selected group, so they were all motivated to work from home effectively, and that’s how it should be. Some people opted out after the nine months were up — and they tended to be the poorest performers of the remote workers. They had tried it and figured out that it wasn’t right for them. But the company still ended up with the best, most motivated home-based workforce.

I can see managers resisting these findings because it’s harder to feel in control of remote workers.

It’s in middle management where there’s resistance.

How do you overcome that?

One of the reasons Ctrip did its experiment was to persuade some sceptical managers that flexible work arrangements wouldn’t hinder business performance — to have data that proved the case. I tell executives all the time to exploit natural opportunities — for example, severe weather that prevents people from getting to the office — to measure how productive employees can be at home. Any disruption that offers a chance to have people work remotely is an opportunity to see how effective they are off-site.

Having every employee working from home two days a week sounds chaotic. How do you schedule a meeting?

There are two valid ways to handle the problem: One is to rotate the days at home so that a certain percentage of workers are always in the office. That’s the way to go if you’re focused on saving space and reducing your real estate costs. The other option is to schedule mandatory in-the-office days. That way there’s no confusion about when you can access staffers in person. There are pros and cons to each.

I’m starting to wish I had interviewed you in my underwear while sitting at my kitchen table. Maybe it would have been a better interview.

Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you can’t get dressed. But sure, next month, do the “Defend Your Research” interview from home and compare the results. Nothing beats testing.

© The New York Times 2014

© 2014 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp

Companies devising new ways to hire, retain women talent: Experts


Companies are realising that hiring women at the senior level is imperative and makes good business sense, and firms are resorting to innovative ways to recruit and retain women talent in order to ensure gender diversity, experts say.

The decision by stock market regulator Sebi to make it mandatory for every listed company to have at least one lady director on its board is likely to open thousands of boardroom position for the fairer sex.

Experts are of the opinion that it is a commendable step towards bringing in gender diversity and having companies re look at the available and future pool for scaling to senior levels.

“This means early identification, investment, training, mentoring by companies. It means a window of opportunity for future aspirants,” TeamLease Services Senior Vice-President & Co-Founder Sangeeta Lala said.

Echoing similar sentiments, Caterpillar India Country HR Director Anju Jain said “It is acknowledged that there is a gender gap at the board level. But in order to begin to close that gap, there must be a pipeline of women leaders in the middle/ senior brackets who would be good candidates to fill Board positions.”

In order to achieve, gender diversity, companies are creating forums, thinking of innovative ways of hiring/ retaining women (full-time and part-time) and removing gender bias to promote hiring women.

HR experts are of the opinion that there should be a proper mechanism in place for picking and placing these women directors. If the said positions become “ornamental,” it would beat the whole purpose of the decision, they said.

Companies need to go a level deeper in mapping out reasons, circumstances, drivers for those who are ‘stuck’ at a certain level and should allocate budgets to re-skill and retrain them for higher positions.

“Organisations are not interested in the overall gender ratio alone. They have started looking at gender ratio at all levels more closely. SEBI’s decision to make it mandatory for every listed company to have at least one lady director on its board will provide further impetus to this,” Towers Watson India Benefits Director Anuradha Sriram said.

Mentoring and Leadership Coaching is becoming a priority for most organisations, she added.

While organisations continue to develop and structure initiatives aimed at improving gender diversity, merit should also be an important guiding principle, experts said.

PTI

 

700-year-old handbag in London museum


Over the years it has been identified as an oriental box, a work basket, a document wallet and even a saddle bag. Now London’s Courtauld Gallery confidently believes one of its most prized possessions is really a 700-year-old handbag — probably the oldest in existence.

New research suggests that the stunning and remarkably well kept brass woman’s bag, inlaid with gold and silver, was made between 1300 and 1330 in Mosul, in what is now northern Iraq, during its Mongol-run period.

The bag has been a prized object in Courtauld’s collection since 1966. “It is one of the finest and best preserved examples of inlaid metalwork in the world,” said Rachel Ward, who has been leading research into the bag.

What was not certain was exactly what it was. “It is a fantastic object and yet it is almost unknown because there’s always been this puzzlement over what it is, who it was made for, when it was made, where it was made. So it hasn’t been used in things like general introductory books because you didn’t know what chapter to put it in.” The key to unlocking its secret is an unusual panel on the top showing a nobleman and woman and their attendants. One of those, a smiling page boy, has the bag around his shoulder.

The bag was acquired by the Victorian collector Thomas Gambier Parry in 1858 and was bequeathed to the Courtauld by his grandson in 1966. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

 

Winter sport


Ready to cruise:Skiers descend the snow slopes at the world famous resort Gulmarg, 55 km from Srinagar, on Sunday.– PHOTO: NISSAR AHMAD
Ready to cruise:Skiers descend the snow slopes at the world famous resort Gulmarg, 55 km from Srinagar, on Sunday.– PHOTO: NISSAR AHMAD

This coin comes apart


The two parts:'A coin has two sides,' goes a common adage but some Rs.10 coins, released in 2011, are breaking into two.— Photo: S. JamesThe two parts:’A coin has two sides,’ goes a common adage but some Rs.10 coins, released in 2011, are breaking into two.— Photo: S. James

There is complaint that the bi-metal Rs.10 coin getting detached from the outer ring

You might generally expect a head or a tail when a tossed coin lands on the ground.

But if you are using a bi-metal Rs.10 coin, beware of the third possibility of it landing down into two pieces. Ever since the introduction of these bi-metal coins by the Reserve Bank of India in 2009, some traders in the city have been complaining about the centre piece, made of a combination of copper and nickel, getting detached from the outer ring made of copper, aluminium and nickel.

They also point out that mostly coins minted in 2011 were prone to such damage.

 

Innocence of childhood


Children from Anbu Illam taking part in events that the Coimbatore City Armed Reserve Police had organised for them at the PRS grounds in the city on Sunday as part of Pongal celebration.- PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN
Children from Anbu Illam taking part in events that the Coimbatore City Armed Reserve Police had organised for them at the PRS grounds in the city on Sunday as part of Pongal celebration.- PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

Malappuram fete


Enthralling audience:Students of Kerala Kalamandalam performing Mohiniyattom at Koottakkunnu as part of the Malappuram Mela on Wednesday evening.
Enthralling audience:Students of Kerala Kalamandalam performing Mohiniyattom at Koottakkunnu as part of the Malappuram Mela on Wednesday evening.

Music in the air


Soothing strains:Calcutta K. Vijayaraghavan delivering a Carnatic vocal recital at the Tyagaraja Aradhana festival in Kozhikode on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup
Soothing strains:Calcutta K. Vijayaraghavan delivering a Carnatic vocal recital at the Tyagaraja Aradhana festival in Kozhikode on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

Rare Tipu coins to be auctioned this weekend


Extremely rare and unique silver coins issued by Tipu Sultan will come under the hammer in Bangalore this weekend as a Silver Double Coin, also called as “Haidari”, and a half Anna, have been put on the block by a Delhi-based collector.

These two coins are among many other rare coins from the collectors’ kitty that will be auctioned during the three-day National Numismatic Exhibition, organised by the Bangalore-based auction house Marudhar Arts, starting from Friday.

The “Haidari”, which weighs 23 grams, according to Rajendra Maru of the auction house, has come for auction in India for the first time in several decades. “The last time we heard about the coin was some years back when a fake Haidari was in circulation. There are less than 100 such coins known to be with collectors,” he added. It is being auctioned with a base price of Rs. 1.5 lakh.

The Haidari was issued on March 16, 1790 by Tipu Sultan in honour of his father Hyder Ali. The coin minted in Srirangapatna was equivalent to 32 copper coins. The other coin issued by Tipu Sultan is an extremely rare half Anna silver coin issued in 1785 that weighs just half a gram and is 7.33 mm in size.

First time

A nearly 3,000-years-old silver coin belonging to Pauravas (Kura dynasty) of Kausambi region has also come for auction for the first time and has been categorised as extremely rare. The other first timer on the block is a punch marked Gold Pagoda coin issued by King Barma Bhopala (1187 AD -1188 AD) of Toragale dynasty in Dharwad region. According to a release, Bhopala ruled for just four to five months.

A lead coin issued by the Marathas of Tanjore that is categorised as exceedingly rare is also being auctioned along with very rare Re. 1 and Rs. 5 currency note of King George VI that was in use even after independence.

The exhibition will be held at Bell Hotel, next to the Bangalore City railway station between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and entry is free.

 

In full spirit


A colourful procession being taken out to mark Shivaji Jayanti, as part of celebrations organised by the district administration and the Department of Kannada and Culture, in Mysore on Wednesday.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
A colourful procession being taken out to mark Shivaji Jayanti, as part of celebrations organised by the district administration and the Department of Kannada and Culture, in Mysore on Wednesday.— PHOTO: M.A.

Winged wonder


Nature aflutter:In Nature’s enchanting backyard, a Common Jezebel butterfly makes a precarious perch on a fragrant flower, in Puducherry. —Photo: S.S. Kumar
Nature aflutter:In Nature’s enchanting backyard, a Common Jezebel butterfly makes a precarious perch on a fragrant flower, in Puducherry. —Photo: S.S. Kumar

Potter craft


Shaping Demands:Members of the Kerala Velaar Service Society holding a demonstration in front of the Kollam Collectorate on Monday in support of their long-standing demands.— Photo: C. Suresh Kumar
Shaping Demands:Members of the Kerala Velaar Service Society holding a demonstration in front of the Kollam Collectorate on Monday in support of their long-standing demands.— Photo: C. Suresh Kumar

Call of the wild


One with nature:Deepakumar Narayanan with his photographs on nature exhibited at the Museum auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram.— Photo: C. Ratheesh kumar
One with nature:Deepakumar Narayanan with his photographs on nature exhibited at the Museum auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram.— Photo: C. Ratheesh kumar

Musical offering


Kadri Gopalnath presents a saxophone recital as part of the Sivarathri celebrations at the Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur on Monday.Kadri Gopalnath presents a saxophone recital as part of the Sivarathri celebrations at the Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur on Monday.

Classically classic


A day to remember:Students performing at a school function in Kurnool on Monday.-PHOTO: U. SUBRAMANYAM
A day to remember:Students performing at a school function in Kurnool on Monday.-PHOTO: U. SUBRAMANYAM

Strange visitor


GAZE:Slender loris seen in a tree at Balakrishnapuram in Dindigul. They are found in the Western Ghats, especially in Ayyalur forests near Dindigul— PHOTO: G.KARTHIKEYAN.
GAZE:Slender loris seen in a tree at Balakrishnapuram in Dindigul. They are found in the Western Ghats, especially in Ayyalur forests near Dindigul— PHOTO: G.KARTHIKEYAN.

Yonder the destination


SOLITARY BOAT:Set for journey or waiting for riders? Perhaps, it is Arthur Rimbaud’s boat that hits one’s mind, anchored on the shores of Oussudu Lake in Puducherry._ Photo: S.S. Kumar
SOLITARY BOAT:Set for journey or waiting for riders? Perhaps, it is Arthur Rimbaud’s boat that hits one’s mind, anchored on the shores of Oussudu Lake in Puducherry._ Photo: S.S. Kumar

Bird watch


Visitors walk past a poultry pavilion on the concluding day of the Progressive Punjab Agriculture Summit at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Memorial in Mohali on Tuesday.Photo: Akhilesh Kumar
Visitors walk past a poultry pavilion on the concluding day of the Progressive Punjab Agriculture Summit at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Memorial in Mohali on Tuesday.Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

Snow walk


A pedestrian strolls down a railway track during heavy snowfall in Shimla on Saturday. Heavy snow in Himachal Pradesh cut off several areas in the upper Shimla and Kinnaur regions, disrupting road and rail links in the State.— PHOTO: AFP (Report on Page 9)
A pedestrian strolls down a railway track during heavy snowfall in Shimla on Saturday. Heavy snow in Himachal Pradesh cut off several areas in the upper Shimla and Kinnaur regions, disrupting road and rail links in the State.— PHOTO: AFP (Report on Page 9)

Meet the Seven Sisters


Northeast Traveller organises treks to North-east India

North-east India which comprises Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura is also popularly known as The Land of Seven Sisters and has a lot in store for the holiday seeker. A home to over 166 different tribes, this region has picturesque hills, green meadows and lush landscapes.

If this sounds tempting, Northeast Traveller could well be your planner.

This eco-tourism organisation conducts regular trips and treks to North-east India. These trips are conducted in collaboration with the locals in the region.

For details, log on to https://www.facebook.com/northeastraveler

 

Rocking on


Weekend special:Artists of Human Brigade band performing at the Indo-French Festival 2014 held at Alliance Francaise Colombani in Puducherry on Saturday.— Photo: S.S. Kumar

Weekend special:Artists of Human Brigade band performing at the Indo-French Festival 2014 held at Alliance Francaise Colombani in Puducherry on Saturday.— Photo: S.S. Kumar

A competition for students to develop crystals


As part of observation of 2014 as Year of Crystallography

Crystals are found everywhere, whether it is in the salt or sugar that we eat, or the diamonds that we wear.

The applications of crystals are even more. Almost every technology that we have today relies on crystals in some form or the other. The study of these crystals, or crystallography is an essential one that could change the way we live our lives. This year, there is an effort to make the community aware of crystallography, which is why the International Union of Crystallography has declared 2014 the year of Crystallography. Around the world, there are a series of programmes being conducted to get people know more about the crystals. The Pondicherry Science Forum and the Department of Science, Technology and Environment on Saturday, organised a series of lecture on the importance of crystallography for students.

 

Growing crystals is not difficult, but it can often be very challenging

 

 

Drums of India


A group performing at an event showcasing traditional drum bands of south India, on Saturday. The two-day event has been organised by Uniq at Koramangala BBMP grounds in Bangalore.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
A group performing at an event showcasing traditional drum bands of south India, on Saturday. The two-day event has been organised by Uniq at Koramangala BBMP grounds in Bangalore.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Embracing the future


Mata Amritanandamayi embracing schoolchildren at Amrita Vidyalam at Boloor in Mangalore on Saturday.— Photo: R. Eswarraj
Mata Amritanandamayi embracing schoolchildren at Amrita Vidyalayam at Boloor in Mangalore on Saturday.— Photo: R. Eswarraj

Teaching the law


B. Padmaraj, retired judge of the High Court of Karnataka, speaking at a workshop at the Karnataka Police Academy in Mysore on Saturday.— PHOTO: Anurag Basavaraj
B. Padmaraj, retired judge of the High Court of Karnataka, speaking at a workshop at the Karnataka Police Academy in Mysore on Saturday.— PHOTO: Anurag Basavaraj

It’s social media week


Social Media Week, the global event that came to India last year, is all set to be held in Bangalore over five days starting Monday.

The event that explores the economic, social, and cultural impact of social media will be held at several popular haunts in the city. Some of the locations where it will be held include Barleyz, City Bar, Fava, Hard Rock Café and The Leela Palace.

For more, log on tohttp://socialmediaweek.org/ bangalore/schedule.

 

 

Dancing horses


Colours of life:The ‘Kuthira Kali’ at Chinakkathoor Pooram near Ottappalam in Palakkad on Saturday.
Colours of life:The ‘Kuthira Kali’ at Chinakkathoor Pooram near Ottappalam in Palakkad on Saturday.

Solitary bliss


A WHITE PATCH IN A GREEN FIELD:A crane seems to be enjoying the perfect ambience of a paddy field near Gandipet on Saturday.- PHOTO: K. RAHUL KUMAR
A WHITE PATCH IN A GREEN FIELD:A crane seems to be enjoying the perfect ambience of a paddy field near Gandipet on Saturday.- PHOTO: K. RAHUL KUMAR

Green shoots


One for home:Visitors at the Horti Expo-2014 being held at the Nizam College grounds on Saturday.- PHOTO: G. RAMAKRISHNA
One for home:Visitors at the Horti Expo-2014 being held at the Nizam College grounds on Saturday.- PHOTO: G. RAMAKRISHNA

Is this we are learning at colleges?


We are like this only:In what is a recurring image, students travel on the footboard of a packed bus on the Basheerbagh-Abids stretch in front of Nizam College on Saturday.- Photo: G. Ramakrishna
We are like this only:In what is a recurring image, students travel on the footboard of a packed bus on the Basheerbagh-Abids stretch in front of Nizam College on Saturday.- Photo: G. Ramakrishna

Art has no barriers


Beyond borders:Tehrik-e-Niswan, an artistes’ group from Pakistan, performing Kathak at Ravindra Bharathi as part of the India-Pakistan Culture Connect programme on Saturday.- PHOTO: K. RAMESH BABU
Beyond borders:Tehrik-e-Niswan, an artistes’ group from Pakistan, performing Kathak at Ravindra Bharathi as part of the India-Pakistan Culture Connect programme on Saturday.- PHOTO: K. RAMESH BABU
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