Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 22, Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Promoting innovation

There is much that can be said about the Institute of Innovative Design, now having reached its second year. Under the guidance of the passionate architect Syda Fazilatun Naz, Institute of Innovative Design has successfully been filling in the gaps that most business courses, even University level ones, leave behind.

The application of the knowledge is where most BBA graduates stumble and this is what this institution strives to rectify.

"The country is full of young and intelligent fresh graduates. So what helps a company decide when the question of hiring arises? The additional set of talents or skills that each individual possess." Syda explains.

"This is where we come in. We provide that additional element, that certain factor, which increases the employability of the individual."

So what exactly does the Institute of Innovative Design offer?

Short courses ranging from Interior Design, Photography, Special Design, Graphic Design, Glass Décor, Event Management courses and many more courses are provided, all in an attempt to make the pupils self-sufficient and skillfully. But instead of just lecturing on the courses, Institute of Innovative Design also offers practical lessons and has a strong employment programme, ensuring the best talents can find the perfect jobs.

One to two exhibitions are held annually, displaying the various wares and talents of the students of the institution.

This institute is also the first to provide comprehensive training courses dealing with Event Management. Although Event Management has become a much pursued field for the younger generation, most of the entrants were fresh under-graduates and graduates who may have started off with one project, but soon ran out of steams as they met the numerous problems and lack of customers in this promising area. Syda believes that if these people were properly trained then they would have been able to sustain themselves and hence she offers courses dealing exclusively with this occupation.

The three month course contains lessons on security arrangements, flower arrangements, stage decorations to almost all aspect of managing an event. Furthermore, enrolled student's horizons are broadened by letting them handle some events the institution holds or at the request of clients and thus they learn and gather valuable experience at the same time.

'I specially want to reach the BBA and MBA students, because with proper training these people could so much more to their CVs, careers and experience than they already have.' Syda mentions.

Most of the courses are short, ranging from 3-6 months, with 2-3 lecturers provided for each subject. Upon completions of courses, certificates are provided and a Level 1 Diploma is reserved only for those having completed their Interior courses.

Although, apart from the Diploma, the certificates aren't authenticated by any other source but the institution itself, Syda adds that technical subjects don't need such verifications and the certificates can help a person get a job easily.

One of the most interesting courses on offer is the one dealing with Glass Décor and Ikebana. Students are trained to make beautiful designs with glass and one former student explained how she had made this her profession and now was running her own website selling her designs.

Esha, one of the lecturers, explained that learning this opened up a lot of opportunities. "We focus on women and their empowerment and learning such skills is a way of empowering them" she explained. The glass décor, using even discarded pieces of glass, were feasible and the beauty depended solely on a person's taste and creativity. But it is an art that can be learned with a little effort and patience. Certain flowers, which were being used for designs, were being kept alive for two weeks and retained their design for so long, opening up numerous commercial possibilities.

Each space of the institute reflected the lessons being taught, with students and teachers contributing to the beauty of their places as they brought their imaginations to life, using glass, flowers, plants, space and photographs.

Of the three women learning glass décor, all teachers by profession, claimed that this was not only a hobby but a profitable one as well. As the Institute also allowed them to bring their children, they learned their new trade while keeping their minds burden free.

Syda concluded the visit by stating, "…commerce students usually have no technical education and this puts them at an unfair disadvantage sometimes. Here we are providing them the opportunity to do something for themselves and realise their dreams." With no intention of high profit, the fees charged are low and discounts are offered the year around during special occasions, especially for women.

With connections to furniture developers, Interior Design firms, scope for event managers and exhibitions to provide exposure for new students, Institute of Innovative Design takes the lessons beyond the classrooms and help to implement the knowledge to do something in life. It is indeed an opportunity that, if one has a desire, should grab with both hands.

For more information head down to House # 37, Road 15, Block D, Banani or email them at sydagnaz@gmail.com.

By Osama Rahman
Photo courtesy: Institute of Innovative Design


Some values and added tax

Fahmeena Nahas

The message alert tone on my cell phone pealed. Thinking it to be a worthwhile sms from a loved one, I clicked the show button. Whoa! What do I find?

“Are you buying something? Please, ask for VAT Challan. This will ensure collection of VAT that you have paid - National Board of Revenue."

The next day I went to work armed with valuable Government info. On my way back I remembered that some guests were coming when I saw the latest branch of the most popular sweetmeat store in town. I at once asked my driver to stop and breezed in to the shop. My sweet-tooth drooled as I inspected the sweets on display. I finally opted for chhanar shandesh, one of my favourites.

I remembered the sms and asked the man sitting behind the counter to give me a bill. He took a scrap of paper and started writing on it. I told him that I wanted a bill and not a scrap of paper. He started looking for his “bill” and managed to find a shop letterhead.

I told him in a firm tone that I wanted a bill and not a shop letterhead. By then other customers gathered around the counter. Some even commented that it was appropriate to get the VAT challan so that the right amount of money went to the state coffer. We all looked on expectantly and while the volley of other such comments continued.

The insufferable man babbled in his local dialect that was quite undecipherable. He continued to search for the suitable piece of paper while all of us customers looked on expectantly. After what seemed like eternity he managed to unearth a book like thing from the hollow in his counter. I peeped inside. Apparent there wasn't a whole lot of things there.

Aha! The bill book had finally been located! The man started scribbling the name of the sweets. But lo! Where was the shop's copy of the bill? The copy that was supposed to be shown at the Vat office! There was no carbon and hence no carbon copy. So what was the big deal about writing a bill if there was no copy left at the shop?

As a concerned and a conscientious citizen I felt so dejected. This was just one shop I had encountered where the right amount of VAT did not go to the government. I'm sure in this little country of ours there are thousands of such well-known shops that do not pay the right amount of VAT or Income Tax. When will we be more patriotic?


Play dates

Is your child ready to socialise and make friends? Sure, even if s/he is only a couple of years old! One of the best and most fun ways to start this is through play dates.

Play dates, basically any arrangement where children get together for a few hours to play, is becoming very popular these days, especially with so many women joining the work force. It's a fantastic deal for children playing with friends, and for you too as you can take half the day off to go shopping or have some fun on your own.

It is also a superb way for your child to grasp social skills. Nadia, a mother of two, says, “Before school life, this is probably the best platform for a child's socialisation.”

Indeed, play dates come with a stream of benefits - for both parents and children.

Invitation out-of-the-box
Set the mood. Make the other children eagerly wait for the play date. One fun way of doing this is sending them invitation cards. Nothing fussy; there are a few websites where you have e-cards for play dates. These cards can also be personalised by providing the name, time, venue, etc. After you're done, send them to their parents' email address where they can show it to their children.

There are a few printable cards as well, which gives more scope for creativity (in terms of drawing, colouring, etc).

The arrangement
You can take the few hours off and have fun on your own with the other mothers. But make sure to leave some solid ground rules and communicate that to the children. If the children are too small, you of course need someone not only to baby-sit, but also to monitor and coordinate the whole thing.

There is no magic number as to how many children should be in a play date. But it sure will not be high. You don't want your house to be crowded; and play dates are not parties.

It's important to set a definite time when the date will end. “Once kids start playing, they are reluctant to go home. And they also don't understand when they're tiring. So I declare the duration before the play date begins,” says Nadia.

A play date shouldn't last for more than a few hours; it depends on what type of activities you've prepared for.

Indoor games
Buy a mini basketball loop and attach it in a safe place. Children will love to score and therefore make a game out of it.

You can include board games if the children are more then six or seven years old. Monopoly, for example, can consume a lot of time. A simple snake-and-ladder game is also quite thrilling. Teach your children how to play chess. Not only is that fun, but it of course has other mental benefits too.

Bouncy balls
If the children promise to play it safe, buy several of those bouncy, rubber balls of different colours. The sheer bouncy and quirky nature of these balls makes them fun and silly entertainment for children. They'll go nuts!

This is especially an excellent option for toddlers. Kids love to doodle, draw and paint. Colours, somehow, mesmerise them! Buy a box of crayons and art books for play dates. Although it means more work, consider a water-painting session too.

Ask other children to bring some of their toys if they wish.

A G. I. Joe set allows more than one child to play. With different characters, themes and children's imaginative minds, G. I. Joe will never fail to keep children engaged. Same is the case with dolls.

Playing with Lego or blocks, other than being fun, provides creative stimulation, enhances the eye-hand coordination and encourages teamwork.

Snack time
Kids typically are reluctant to eat. So don't spoil their fun with traditional foods. Keep things simple, short and yummy. Brownies, cookies, pastries, biscuits and chicken sandwich with lemonade works just fine.

Talk to other parents about their children's eating habits. Is anyone picky? Does anyone have allergy?

Arranging an extraordinary play date is indeed not easy. After all, being an excellent host is no easy matter, especially if your guests are an army of little tykes!

By M H Haider


Persistent myths about smoking

People start smoking for many reasons. Many continue to puff away because they buy into certain persistent myths about tobacco use. Here are some of those myths, and the truth about each.

Myth: My other healthy habits may make up for my smoking.
Some smokers justify their habit by insisting that proper nutrition and lots of exercise are enough to keep them healthy. Not so. Research shows that eating a healthy diet and exercising don't reduce the health risks associated with smoking. Smoking affects every organ system in the body, and thinking that you're going to find the perfect lifestyle to counteract the effects of smoking is just not realistic.

You could take a truckload of vitamins a day and still not undo the deadly effects of tobacco.

Myth: Switching to 'light' cigarettes will cut my risk.
Smokers who switch to brands labelled "light" or "mild" inevitably compensate for the lower levels of tar and nicotine by inhaling smoke more deeply or by smoking more of each cigarette.

Most people who smoke them wind up getting the same amount of the killing components in tobacco smoke. People who smoke light cigarettes are dying of lung cancer, stroke, heart attack, and emphysema every day.

Myth: I've smoked for so long; the damage is already done.
The damage caused by smoking is cumulative, and the longer a person smokes, the greater his/her risk for life-threatening ailments. But quitting smoking at any age brings health benefits.

Your health will improve even if you quit at 70. The benefits of quitting start the day you stop. Within a month, you will feel like you have more air, because you do. Within a year, your risk of having a heart attack will be cut by 50 percent.

Myth: Trying to quit smoking will stress me out -- and that's unhealthy.
True, tobacco withdrawal is stressful. But there's no evidence that the stress has negative long-term effects.

In fact, research shows that smokers who quit begin eating better, exercising more, and feeling better about themselves. They're in a better mental place. So many smokers today hate the fact that they are addicted, and that they are taking money out of the family budget and putting it toward deadly cigarettes.

Myth: The weight gain that comes with quitting is just as unhealthy as smoking.
Smokers who quit can gain considerable weight but the risk posed by carrying the extra pounds is minuscule compared to the risk of continuing to smoke.

Myth: Cutting back on smoking is good enough.
Cutting down on the number of cigarettes is not an effective strategy. Smokers who cut back draw more deeply and smoke more of each cigarette. So even though they smoke fewer cigarettes, they get the same dose of toxic smoke. The data suggest that the only smoking cessation strategy that works consistently is getting to the point of not even a single puff.


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