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March 8 is International Women’s Day: Exploring Creative Instincts give Women wings to Fly

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A woman reading a book (representational image), Pixabay

New Delhi March 7, 2017: Three years ago, Malini Arora, 29, left a busy corporate job to satiate her itch to explore her creative instincts as a designer of contemporary ethnic wear.

It’s a bumpy ride, but then you get to drive, she says — a sentiment that resonates with several such Indian women who are turning entrepreneurs with their clutter-breaking creative pursuits. And the digital wave is helping them even more.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store when I’m in a fabric shop,” Noida-based Arora, who realised her dream with her brand Designs By Ikebana — promoted mainly through digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram — told IANS.

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“I guess I always wanted to be a designer, but a little bit of gumption and that necessary nudge from my family finally made it happen. My corporate job paid the bills but my current pursuit gives me the courage to explore the creative world.

“To all those who are looking to venture out with their creativity, I say: Do it!”

There are also Pooja Kaul and Amita Mahajan, both mothers and keen architects. A sudden project to do up a nursery sowed the seeds of FLYFROG KIDS, an online kids decor platform.

“The idea was to create a line of vibrant products different from what was currently available in the market — with a focus on function as well as design. Our products have generic flowers, butterflies or sailors or dinosaurs as the main stars. We think that kids should have the freedom to imagine, think and dream,” Mahajan said, adding that child safety is a mainstay of their offerings.

They retail through lifestyle online portal Luxehues.com to reach out to the affluent households across India, and decided early on that online was the way to go, given the country’s growing smart phone base.

There’s experimentation by women in the jewellery space too.

Chennai-based Bharathi Raviprakash was once a money changer. Her urge to break the monotony led to the birth of Studio Tara, a jewellery brand which offers diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethyst, spinel, tourmalines, and other precious gems dramatically set in yellow and white gold.

It was her passion for precious stones, and an eye for design, that gave birth to Studio Tara, but Raviprakash’s thirst to learn more led her to a gemological institute in London, from where she graduated in 2002. Her designs reflect a raw feel, and appeal to the corporate crowd.

Another entrepreneur, 32-year-old Anubha Patankar, has carved a niche with her love for baking.

“I was already conducting chocolate-making courses for a few years just as a hobby, alongside my hectic corporate job in IT. Frankly, I loved it more than my job,” Patankar said, recollecting how her small stall in a society get-together focused attention on her culinary talent.

When she decided to quit her mundane job after having a second child, she began planning to open a baking institute — a dream that became a reality with the launch of Melting Momentz in Pune back in 2013. Two years later, Patankar had to move to Gurugram, where she set up the institute from scratch.

“I started promotions online to attract the tech-savvy crowd of Gurgaon (as it was then called). I changed my course content to include healthy baking and focused more on breads. Chemical-free, multi-grain and 100 per cent wheat breads became the synonym for Melting Momentz, where food enthusiasts could learn tips and tricks about cakes, icing, fondants, desserts, cookies, chocolates, eggless recipes and more.”

Her larger aim, as she puts it, is “to support women entrepreneurs in starting their own bakeries and outlets with full assistance from the studio”.

There are common threads that bind these stories: the joy of following their own hearts, the satisfaction of using their creativity and talent, as well as the peace of financial, social and mental freedom. (IANS)

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Despite All The Efforts, Political Campaign Spends on Social Media Remain A Mystery

But even as the Election Commission has made social media companies follow certain norms, such as pre-certification of political ads to prevent misuse of the platforms, such measures are unlikely to bring adequate transparency to the whole process

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The Election Commission is in talks with the representatives of Internet companies, including social media platforms, on the use of social media for campaigning in the Lok Sabha polls while the Model Code of Conduct is in force. Pixabay

Despite all the efforts put in place by social media companies to show who is paying for the political advertisements on their platforms, the users may not know the actual amount spent to run political campaigns on these websites.

Facebook has a searchable database for political ads which anyone can access. This Ad Library report from the social media giant shows that Indians have spent over Rs 6.5 crore in over 30,000 ads related to politics since February 2019 — in the run up to the general elections.

Similarly, Twitter also has an Ad Transparency Centre which allows one to search which account has spent how much in the past seven days.

social media
“In terms of political ads, social media companies should allow only certified agencies to post ads. This would make the monitoring process much easier for everyone. Allowing any individual to post political ads complicates the monitoring process. This is a big loophole,” he said. Pixabay

While these efforts are being regarded as important steps towards bringing transparency in the political process, they may not reflect the complete picture of how the social media space operates, according to experts.

“Influencers play a very important role in political campaigns and 90 per cent of the transactions related to these campaigns are done through cash,” social media expert Anoop Mishra told IANS.

Knowing which party is spending how much on social media is important because much of what trends on Twitter or what becomes popular on Facebook – with potential to impact voter behaviour – may actually be due to the money and manpower of political parties while creating an illusion of organic support from hundreds and thousands of users in these platforms.

“Every political party including the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), Congress, Samajwadi Party and BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) are trying to push their agenda on social media. But those parties with greater money, manpower and tech expertise are likely to win the social media war,” Mishra said.

He added that political parties were employing a large number of people to make their propaganda material viral on social media.

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Similarly, Twitter also has an Ad Transparency Centre which allows one to search which account has spent how much in the past seven days.
Pixabay

“In terms of political ads, social media companies should allow only certified agencies to post ads. This would make the monitoring process much easier for everyone. Allowing any individual to post political ads complicates the monitoring process. This is a big loophole,” he said.

“Encrypted platforms like WhatsApp could be used extensively to spread advertisements and propaganda, which could be difficult to be tracked,” added Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director, Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC.in), a Delhi-based not-for-profit legal services body.

Also Read: Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity
The Election Commission is in talks with the representatives of Internet companies, including social media platforms, on the use of social media for campaigning in the Lok Sabha polls while the Model Code of Conduct is in force.

But even as the Election Commission has made social media companies follow certain norms, such as pre-certification of political ads to prevent misuse of the platforms, such measures are unlikely to bring adequate transparency to the whole process. (IANS)