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How India Post is innovating to keep the postman relevant  

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By Santosh Dubey

There was a time when the postman was the most awaited person in town. People expected a letter or money order whenever a khaki clad postman visited them. But in this age of mobile phones, emails, and other modern modes of communication, the postal department, along with its postmen, has shrunken in its visibility.

Being relevant

Of course, it does not mean that the postal department has lost its relevance in the present times. The department has upgraded itself with time and changed its work functioning.

Today the Indian postal service provides many more facilities like mail product,  insurance facility, speed post, business post,  logistic post, express parcel and various other financial services.

Development schemes under NDA

Under Narendra Modi government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative, India Post will tie up with major e-retailers like Flipkart and Snapdeal which will use its services to deliver consumer goods in remote  areas of the country.

At present, the postal department is only able to track the parcel system, but this system is going to be upgraded in the coming time. The government is planning to undertake technical upgradation of different post offices across the country.

Branching out

The department has not given up its hope to convert itself into a postal bank. The government has started working in this direction and 2500 of its outlets are expected to be connected to the core banking platform by financial year-2016. The postal bank will also provide  ATM facility to meet the consumers’ needs.

Not only this, in another scheme launched by the NDA government, named SUKANYA SAMRIDHI scheme, the postal department has opened special counters for parents having a girl child and are willing to open an account.  This was done under the Prime Minister’s Beti Padhao Beti Bachao campaign in January, 2015.

According to sources, the beneficiaries of this scheme get the second highest rate of interest. The five years’ senior citizen saving scheme has the highest rate of interest at 9.2%.

“This department is almost ignored by the people as they are getting such facilities at their door steps, but it is again getting pace with the introduction of schemes like Sukanya Samridhi scheme and others. Hope it will again become people’s choice as it is getting updated,” said a postal department employee.

The department has the potential to cater to the people beyond the reach of  the courier and other wired facilities and it should try to place itself as a relevant and crucial player in these areas.

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Lockdown Diaries: Online Sales of Gardening Products Shoot Up

Online sales of gardening products hint at home-gardening bloom in lockdown

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Lockdown
Many Indians have turned into gardeners during lockdown. Pixabay

By Siddhi Jain

Two months of lockdown has turned many Indians into avid gardeners. As people explore their green side by growing a variety of plants, sales of gardening products on an e-commerce site seem to have shot up notably in this period.

As per Snapdeal, the overall sale in the gardening category for mid-March and mid-May 2020 is more than double the sale in the same time-frame last year.

“Over the last two months, users have bought seeds to grow a range of vegetables including brinjals, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, chilli, coriander etc. Seeds of everyday-use items like lemon and tomato were the most searched for seeds on Snapdeal. Combo vegetable seeds pack with multiple varieties of seeds priced under Rs 300 was another popular pick amongst Snapdeal shoppers,” the online marketplace told IANSlife.

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People have bought a variety of seeds amid lockdown. Pixabay

What made it to e-carts and search bars?

As kitchen gardens blossomed, so did a collective desire to build immunity against the novel Coronavirus.

Since late April, Moringa (drumstick) seeds remained high in demand for immunity-boosting properties.

For those looking at summer flowers, Roses, Zinnia, Petunia and Marigold have been a top pick, since they grow well in summers.

Enthusiastic gardeners also bought a range of supplies including garden tool kits comprising trowels (‘khurpi’), clippers and weeding forks, green net to save plants from birds, spraying can, and seedling trays, Snapdeal shared.

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Many enthusiastic gardeners also bought a range of supplies including garden tool kits. Pixabay

Apart from greening lawns and balconies, people also bought indoor plants like money plant, areca palm, rubber plant, and fiddle-leaf fig. Succulents were also widely searched and liked but seldom bought due to its high maintenance nature and difficulty to survive Indian weather conditions, the e-commerce platform said.

When it came to pots, plastic pots in a variety of shapes, colour and sizes were in high demand and the popular price range of these were Rs 50-250. Most users bought multi-packs of 4-12 pots. Traditional terracotta pots were also searched for but were not available due to difficulty in transporting the same. Grow bags which are a cheaper alternative to pots were a hit too, Snapdeal said.

“Gardening is a fun and relaxing way to get in touch with nature. In the lockdown period, we saw increased interest from our shoppers in this category, as they spent more time at home. From the nature of buying, we can infer that users are attempting to grow everyday use fruits and vegetables at home. Our sellers also received queries for bulk supplies from those users who intend to grow organic produce for regular commercial sale. Seeing the demand, we have onboarded new sellers in this category to ramp up supplies,” a Snapdeal spokesperson told IANSlife.

Also Read: McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

Regional demand

Seaweed solution bottles were popular gardening picks among the metro audiences to save the trouble of keeping packets of compost. The non-metro audience, on the contrary, continued to buy compost. Cocopeat, which can absorb water for longer than normal soil, was widely bought in north India to beat the sun.

Shoppers from Tier 2 cities bought most of the gardening supplies. Most orders came from Bhopal, Chandigarh, Nagpur, Dehradun, Gurgaon, Jamnagar, Lucknow, Mysore, Ranchi and Raipur.

Orders for some of these items were placed mostly when deliveries of these products were prohibited and are now being delivered post the lockdown restrictions being removed, the brand said. (IANS)

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Simple Do’s and Dont’s For Beginner Bakers

Here are some baking tips for beginners

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Baking
Tips for baker who've just begun amidst the lockdown. Pixabay

Now that most of us have adjusted to the new normal of being confined in our homes and working remotely, one area that has kept creativity alive and brings cheer to otherwise monotonous days is cooking.

Some people have surprised us with their culinary skills, with delectable pictures being posted on their social media profiles. What has stood out during these quarantine times is baking, with banana bread being the latest internet trend.

According to Google Trends, internet searches like ‘How to bake bread at home’ and ‘Banana bread’ have seen over 100 percent spikes in the country, during the lockdown period.

Baking is a deeply engaging activity where all members of the family can pitch in right from measuring the flour to popping the batter in the oven. This World Baking Day, engage both the eldest and the youngest members of your family in the process and have some fun.

To create delicious baked goods we spoke to experts at Flipkart to suggest baking essentials that go a long way in the kitchen:

Baking
Be a baking maestro with these easy tips. Pixabay

Convection ovens, microwaves and more

While baking is easier with an OTG oven, there are other simple substitutes that can be used if you do not have an OTG handy. Microwaves and Gas Tandoors are perfect substitutes for a convection oven. If you own a Gas Tandoor, you can bake anything under the sun from pizzas to cakes. Gas Tandoors are the easiest and the lowest maintenance equipment for baking. Additionally, Microwaves can also be used for. However, the ingredients and process might alter slightly.

Blending wet and dry elements

Immersion hand blenders are key to combine the dry and wet ingredients into a smooth creamy texture. Hand blenders allow the batter to mix together in a uniform consistency without any lumps or air bubble that might hinder that perfect end result.

Processing for uniform texture

Food processors are a blessing, especially when you are rolling a dough. While hand blenders are suited for cakes, food processors are suited for breads, biscuits and scones or even fluffy pancakes. There are many varieties of food processors in the market depending on their auxiliary attachments and functions.

Miscellaneous baking paraphernalia

Baking is enjoyable when you absorb all the elements in it – right from choosing the correct apron fabric to choosing the right mixing bowls. The science behind choosing the right bowl is that copper and glass binds the egg and gives a creamy texture without making it grainy. Besides the electronic equipment, there are various tools that one might need for baking. From basic tools like measuring cups, spatulas and mixing bowls to aprons that protect you from getting drenched in flour, these items are essential for making the baking process smooth, streamlined and efficient.

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Baking becomes easier with these ideas. Pixabay

The extra oomph

Icing on the cake adds to the extra oomph, makes it goey and presentable. If you’re baking a cake, decorative ingredients such as sprinkles, cherries and fruit can be added to add to the flavour and increase the beauty quotient. For savoury items such as pizzas and pastas, mozarella cheese is the way to go. You can be creative with your decorations depending on what you are baking.

Also Read: Vizag Gas Leak: A Tragic Story of Human Blunder

For the perfect icing on the cake

With summers in full swing, it is imperative to store the baked products properly. You must store cakes and icing separately to ensure the end product doesn’t get soggy. Also, make sure the unfrosted cakes and items like pizza dough are stored in a plastic wrap or airtight containers. This adds to the shelf life and keeps the structure of ingredients intact. (IANS)

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Finance Minister’s Announcements Will Boost MSMEs: PM Modi

Modi praised the announcements made by the Finance Minister in a tweet

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Prime Minister
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to appreciate the announcements made by the Finance Minister. Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday hailed the announcements made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to aid the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which have taken a beating during the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Modi tweeted, “Today’s announcements by FM @nsitharaman will go a long way in addressing issues faced by businesses, especially MSMEs. The steps announced will boost liquidity, empower the entrepreneurs and strengthen their competitive spirit.

He also used the hashtag ‘Atma-nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, which is a reference to self-reliant India, something which he vowed to turn the country into during his televised address to the nation on Tuesday night.

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Sitharaman announced to widen the definition of MSMEs and raise the investment limit on Wednesday. Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to the media here on Wednesday, Sitharaman announced to widen the definition of MSMEs and raise the investment limit. Another criteria, turnover of the company, has also been added to the required norms for classification of MSMEs.

Read More: Bars, Guest Houses Allowed to Open in Lockdown 4, Urges Goa Minister

Sitharaman also announced a collateral-free automatic loan for MSMEs of up to Rs 3 lakh crore, among other liquidity measures.

In a move to provide more scope for Indian companies, including MSMEs, the Centre has decided to disallow global firms from participating in government procurement tenders up to Rs 200 crore.

These were part of a multi-pronged approach of the government to rejuvenate the sector which has been badly hit by the suspension of economic activities in the country in the wake of the nationwide lockdown which is place to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. (IANS)