Monthly Archives: December 2010

Who will benefit from the snow?

UK has been reeling under snow since the last few days. The metrological department has issued weather warning of a mix of sleet, snow and rain

As temperatures hit sub-zero, some people gain from adverse weather conditions while others suffer losses. Here is a look at the winners and the losers due to the snow.

The Winners

School children are the happiest as schools as closed. They are likely to enjoy a longer vacation.

A well-heated mall is always a blessing to those stranded outside in the cold. Departmental stores may have expected a drop in footfalls due to heavy snowfalls. However, the sale of winter wear, sweaters, jackets and thermal clothing are surely booming. Sales of sledges and shovels have also increased.

Tyre companies are making hay while the sun shines. There has been a sudden increase in demand for winter tyres.

With people getting ready to begin Christmas shopping, the snow may ruin shopping plans. Online stores will be flooded with orders as long as they can deliver the product despite transport problems. Amazon UK has posted a warning stating “Deliveries in some areas of the country may be affected by adverse weather conditions.”

If the snowfall continues, people may resort to panic buying by stocking up on canned food and soup.

The losers

City councils are shelling out amounts as high as £1.2 bn. Not only do they have to invest in salt but also in manpower to clear the snow.

Scotland is worst hit. All six Scottish Premier League football matches have been postponed.

Businesses are running losses as employees are unable to each their workplace. Employees are unable to stick to their travel plans as trains and flights are cancelled.

NHS will have to treat more people for winter-related illnesses. The number of people visiting the A & E with injuries from slips, falls and other ice and snow accidents has increased.

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Enjoying free labour or helping students?

Entering the media industry is a challenge. The lucky ones are those who are at the right place at the right time while others need a godfather in the industry or pursue an (unpaid) internship.

Journalism has not only been a passion but a way of life for me. As a child, I was curious to find out about things happening around me and developed a nose for news.

I decided to pursue a career in journalism at the age of 12. Therefore, during my early teenage years, I began writing for my school and parish magazine and then went on to become a part of the editorial team.

My interest in the area drove me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mass media with journalism as a specialisation.

Securing an internship

During the course of my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue an internship to enter the industry, gain experience and to create a network of contacts. The education system in India focusses more on marks than on gaining practical exposure. Pursuing an internship was out of choice not out of academic compusion.

I ran from pillar to post knocking on the doors of media companies in search of an internship. I finally got a one-month unpaid internship at a national English daily newspaper in Mumbai.

The lessons

I gained practical knowledge in the mainstream Indian print media as a reporter on the field as well as an editor and page designer on the desk.

I learnt a lot through hands-on experience and in terms of knowledge through co-ordination, co-operation and team work. I learnt that the glamour that is associated with such a job profile is quite an illusion.

Working with people with different attitudes, outlooks and approaches is a complete learning experience in itself. My work experience while reporting on various beats taught me the nuances and realities of a scribe’s life.

The internship was a great way to gain experience, confidence and knowledge about the world of work. In an increasing competitive job market, employers expect prospective employees to have some amount of work experience.

Why is it unpaid?

Interning for a company is totally different from volunteering with a charity. For me the internship was more about the work experience and not about the money. This is not the case for all interns. Many interns cannot afford to work for a month without pay. Coming from a well-to-do family in Mumbai, I was able to afford the unpaid internship along with all the other ancillary expenses that come along with it. It was surely hard on the pocket but I could do it with family support.

While reporting on the field, news progresses very fast. Unless the intern has their own transport which is highly unlikely, they have to rely on public transport. I did not have time to wait for the bus or the train. I had to take a taxi to reach my destination on time and gather news. Taxi fare and conveyance was the major  expense as I did not get a reimbursement. The reason cited by my editor was – “You have come here to learn which you are getting free. Why do you want to get paid for learning?”

Internships provide employers with cheap or free labour. Remunerating interns for their work is the company’s way of appreciating their work however menial it can be.

Intern Aware

Intern Aware is an organisation in the UK that campaigns for paid labour. The organisation strives for the payment of the national minimum wage for interns.

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My first experience of snowfall

Ever since I came to London to study, I wanted to see snow

I have lived in Mumbai all my life until I came to London two months ago. The coldest Mumbai can ever get is 20°C. I have been waiting for snowfall ever since I got here. However, everyone told me “it hardly snows here.”

Weather in London is highly unpredictable. One can experience all four seasons in one day. Over the past few weeks, I noticed that the grass outside my window and many vehicles had become frosty. I wasn’t sure if it was frost or snow, as I did not know the difference. I asked my cousin about the snow and he told me, “When it snows you will know it.”

I had been a part of many discussions about the likelihood of a snowfall anytime soon. I make it a point to check the weather forecast before leaving my house so that I am well equipped for sudden change in weather conditions.

My dream comes true
November 30 was a much-awaited day for me as the weather forecast predicted snowfall all day and it would be the first snowfall of the season in London.  Mumbai being a hot and humid city, experiencing snow in Mumbai is highly impossible. Witnessing a snowfall was a distant dream.

The snowfall was scheduled to begin at 0300 GMT. I was awake all night working on an assignment that was due for submission. At around 0245 GMT, my flatmate knocked on my door and told me that it has started snowing. I opened my window and what I saw next will etched in my memory forever.

My joy knew no bounds. I left me assignment aside, grabbed my coat and went out for a walk in the snow with my flatmate. The campus was a pretty sight. Everything had turned white. I was bursting with excitement to experience my first snowfall ever. i was jumping in the snow. And that’s when I realised that snow is slippery!!! The first thought was to have a snowball fight and make a snowman.

What’s next?

Today was just the first snowfall and the snow was not enough to have a snowball fight or make a big snowman. However, winter has just begun and I am expecting many more snowfalls this season.

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