Kochi-Kumla bhai-bhai

A twin city for Kochi—far, far away from Kerala

Kochi has a new twin; that too, in far away Scandinavia! It is the Swedish city of Kumla that has entered into

A twin city for Kochi, all the way in Scandinavia.

a twin-city relationship with Kochi. Recently, a visiting delegation from Kumla held discussions with the Kochi city Mayor Tony Chammany, after which it was decided that the two cities would collaborate in mutually beneficial ventures.

The delegation’s visit was a follow up to last year’s conference between the Kochi Corporation and the Swedish International Council for Local Democracy. Currently, they are studying the feasibility of three-year projects in the areas of waste management, drinking water, education, information technology and e-governance.

An opportunity for knowledge sharing and more

The five-member delegation headed by Mayor Katarina Hansson visited the Infopark and met with heads of IT companies. The Kumla city council would be looking at investment opportunities in Kochi. The media reported that the Swedish team was impressed with the infrastructure available at the IT Park and the growth of the IT industry. In return, Kochi could benefit with technology and know-how in areas of waste management and education.

The others in the Swedish team included Mats Hellgreen the opposition leader of Kumla, Marcel Minnegal, the chief of water management, and Anders Larson the chief of waste management.

Kumla, when compared to Kochi is small in size and population. While Kochi city has a population of over 6 lakhs (as of 2012), Kumla’s population is only around 15,000. Sweden itself has a low population density with only 21 inhabitants per square kilometre. Kumla has an interesting history of being a shoemaker town, though now it is better known for manufacturing and communication technology.

In the next three years, the two cities would be looking to make good use of the twin-city status and work closely on projects and create investment opportunities.

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Socialising more online… does the news really surprise us?

By Sumi Thomas, Wordsmith at DropCap Media

Logging in to work early today, one of the other tabs I inevitably have open on my Google Chrome browser window includes Facebook. And then my Mashable email round-up of tech news brings me this stunner graphic, revealing the Internet habits of Americans. Apparently, Americans spend 18% of their online time on social media, mostly on Facebook (but of course!).

So, are Indians any different? I doubt it… if you look at my average Net usage, at any given point of time, I always have a social media site open on a tab. Of course, most of the time it is for work, and sometimes it’s for the entertainment of my six-month-old who is hooked to Psy’s Gangnam Style (sigh!). Still, I am sure even on a personal note, I am a social media junkie, probably averaging many more hours than the Americans’ monthly 6.5 hours on Facebook.

What I found really interesting in this graphic is that time spent socialising for real and ‘taking care of household members’ has taken a hit by more than 2 hours in total. Which means we would rather put our efforts into virtual relationships, which are easier to maintain (all you need is a Like button), than nurture real-life ties. Admittedly, real life can turn out to be a pain at times, with no easy options to Like, Comment, Share or even Unfriend. Real life is messy, because often things boil down to face-to-face talks and eye-to-eye confrontations. But conversely, doesn’t that make real life more fun as well? You tell us.

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The Great Indian Social Debate

There has been much ado in the world of late. Real world troubles spilling over and echoing in the virtual world, social media-driven protests sparking off revolutions, individuals thronging on to social networks to find a platform of shared beliefs and an ardent community of fellow believers… As we live more of our lives online, these are but the beginnings of the reactions and responses the world can expect from our species that has found a new stage to express its emotions, beat its breast, rally support, offer refuge, lend a helping hand, and do a lot more, a lot faster.
In India, nothing has driven home the sharp thrust of this phenomenon deep into the slumbering behemoth of our unwieldy democracy like the might of an unassuming 73-year-old named Anna Hazare. Called a Gandhi wannabe by critics, he has nevertheless stirred up the collective consciousness of this country of myriad divides. His weapons of choice are non-violent and his iron stance is against one of our country’s most debilitating factors: corruption. For, his version of the Lokpal Bill–now dubbed the Jan Lokpal Bill–promises a fearless India where every person in power will be made answerable to his countrymen for a misdeed.

Nothing else could perhaps have so wholly caught the imagination of a people so beleaguered by the everyday revelation of scam after scam amounting to crores of rupees even as the country flails for funds for development activities, to aid the poor, strengthen the education system, infrastructure, and more. What is remarkable about the Anna Hazare-led movement is its online reflection. A search on Facebook for Anna Hazare throws up a number of Pages, two of which boast a combined follower count of more than 4 lakh. Call it armchair activism or what you will, but it does stand to reason that the people who signed up on these pages felt some sort of connection, however tenuous, with Hazare’s cause. During his last protest, candlelight demonstrations in support of Hazare were organised and held via Facebook event invites.
It is indeed a defining time for the world in general, and our democracy–poised at the verge of a promising future–in particular. With one in every three Indians with Internet access opting for a Facebook account and more and more Indians signing up with powerful social networks like Twitter, it is but natural that social media will soon have the power to spark, evolve and guide movements and revolutions. We have seen it happening elsewhere in the world; in our democracy that spans the diverse factors of language, region and religion, perhaps social media will help Indians find common ground and fight for the common good.

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Businesspeople Reading Pamphlet

Do’s & Don’ts of a Good Newsletter

For your business to be successful, it is extremely important to keep yourself on top of your client’s mind. A carefully crafted, well-timed and well-targeted newsletter can make your job easier. However, there is always a big debate on whether newsletters are effective or not. Newsletters work, no doubt; but only if they are done professionally. A newsletter put together shoddily, with no serious thought into its content or design, can backfire, doing more harm than good.
Image courtesy: Corbis
A good newsletter can secure the loyalty of existing customers and keep them updated about the full range of products and services you offer. It can also generate interest in new customers, besides reaching out to investors and other businesses, helping you build a wide and fruitful business network. Newsletters also make it easier for your existing customers to pass referrals to their friends who are likely to be interested in the products and services you offer.

Whether it is an online newsletter or a printed one, you should always follow a formula to keep them interesting for the target audience. Is there really any “news” to pass on to your customers via the newsletter? Unlike a brochure, which is intended to spread general info regarding a company, a newsletter is about news – something new and exciting that has happened in your business. You can even carry industry-specific information that could be of use to your readers.

Of course, a newsletter does give you the chance to sneak in an ad; but the idea is to do this without losing your audience and by talking about something they care about. Some important points to be remembered while creating a newsletter are:
  • Always send your newsletter to a well-thought out target customer group.
  • Get it done perfectly and professionally. Give it an expert touch. A professionally designed newsletter can instantly appeal to the reader’s aesthetic sense.
  • Keep them short, comprehensive and interesting.
  • Give your customer respect; build integrity.
The content of your newsletter should be eye catching, simple and to the point. Write short pieces that are informative and relevant for the customer. You do not have to be on a sales pitch all the time.
When done professionally, newsletters can convey your message and generate an impact for your business and achieve customer interest.

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Shooting in the rain: tips for monsoon photography

Pic: Sivaram. V

Photography is a growing craze these days. With photo sharing becoming a big trend in social networking sites like Facebook and Flickr, many people have taken to photography as a serious hobby. Mounting ‘likes’ and inspiring comments on photographs on Facebook are reason enough to push more people into taking up this art. Monsoons are a favourite season for many professional photographers as the colours, ambience and feel that this weather creates is out of the ordinary. The rains also inspire budding photographers to experiment with the camera. However, getting the perfect monsoon picture is an art in itself. Here are a few tips and tricks to polish your rainy-day frames.

· The dark grey pre-rain clouds are a treat to the eye. So while shooting just before the rains set in, try to cover 75% of the frame with clouds and fill your frames with shapes.
· To enable a better shooting experience in the monsoon, you should always wear clothes that make you comfortable.
· Carry essentials like cotton handkerchiefs or plastic covers to protect your camera and gear and make sure that you keep your gadgets dry. Avoid carrying more-than-required equipment along when you travel around to shoot in the rains.
· Monsoon is the best time to capture a rainbow. Try to get an uncluttered background; this helps emphasise the colours of the rainbow.
· If you happen to be at the seaside, shoot the waves, fishing nets and fishermen in action. Avoid using flash while shooting in the rains.
· Capturing reflections becomes easier after a downpour.
· Everything looks fresh once the rain stops. So capture landscapes and explore the nature to unlock a variety of eye-catching visuals.
· Rain by itself can make a great subject. Experiment with different shutter speeds and capture the downpour.
People often want to capture pictures that tell stories. But telling a story through your photographs isn’t an easy process. The reason that drives you to capture a particular moment is the story that you intend to convey. Your entire emphasis should be on that part to effectively capture what you truly anticipate.

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