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Raksha Bandhan goes digital this year

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With travel restrictions and physical distancing becoming the new normal this year, traditional visits to our siblings for Rakhi this year are being substituted by virtual Rakhis sent online.

Major e-commerce sites have seen massive jump in the number of orders placed for rakhis and e-gifts given the restrictions and apprehensions about travel and social distancing.

Snapdeal saw rakhi orders jumping three-fold as more users have opted to buy or send Rakhis online. Adding to the trend, Snapdeal’s shoppers moved to completely digital solutions for Raksha Bandhan this year by choosing E-Gift cards as the topmost Rakhi gift.

The platform witnessed a surge in the sale of digital gift cards two weeks before Rakshabandhan. It logged an increase of 70 percent in the sale of these cards, vis-à-vis last year, the company announced in a statement.

Last year, travel accessories like go-pro mounts, selfie sticks, and backpacks were widely picked as Raksha Bandhan gifts. Ethnic clothes were also widely bought as gifting. This year, as India continues to be cautious of the virus, digital gift cards saw a big boost in sales.

“The number of Rakhis sold this year exceeds the number of Rakhis sold in the last two years combined. This is primarily due to the shoppers exercising caution and avoiding the festival linked travel,” the company said.

Flipkart has also seen a sale of over 1,00,000 rakhis per day. Overall, the platform has seen 2x growth as compared to previous year in terms of units sold.

The North is the largest chunk in the pie, with almost 45 percent demand coming from the region, followed by Eastern states with 25 percent share, the company said.

The top 10 cities generating demand are New Delhi, Bangalore, Patna, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Gurgaon

Ferns N Petals has witnessed 100 growth in in comparison to the previous rakhi seasons. It has received 10,000 rakhi and rakhi gift orders every day, total 300,000 orders till Saturday. There have been 400-600 orders per day for virtual gifts like Guitarist on Video Call, Personalized Video message, and celebrity video message. The company is anticipating to close this season at 1.5 million orders.

“More and more customers are shopping online than before, in order to maintain social distancing. With this shift in buying behaviour, we have witnessed a huge surge in customers who want rakhis to be delivered in other countries like the US, followed by the UK, Singapore, UAE and a couple of other countries,” informed Manish Saini, COO, ecommerce, Ferns N Petals.

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Books & Authors

“Publishing a book is not only about writing, it is much more than that”, says Nayana in a recent Interview

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About The Author:
Nayana Phukan, the author of the bestselling novel ‘Dawn in Florence’ is a software engineer and an avid traveler. Nayana is a bookworm since her childhood days and she always had a dream to write books of her own. She started writing her debut novel ‘Dawn in Florence’ in November, 2019 and finally, published it on the last week of July, 2020. Nayana currently lives in the city of dreams, Mumbai and she believes in enjoying every moment of life.

Briefly describe your journey until now. Have you accomplished what you wanted or still have a mile to go?
Since my childhood days, I have been a bookworm and I always had a dream that one day, I would write novels of my own. But for me, the challenge was to find an ample amount of time for writing. I am a software engineer and have been working as an IT professional for the last nine years. It was not easy for me to find out time for writing but apart from an engineer and a writer, I am also an avid traveler. For a long time, I was planning to start a travel blog and on one fine day of 2018, I started writing travel blogs and thankfully, everyone loved it. During that time, I was working as a senior web developer in a major e-commerce firm and due to immense work pressure, it was not easy for me to find time for writing. But I didn’t give up and started to draft some small stories apart from travel blogging in my spare time. That was the time when I realized that I should take writing more seriously. I started writing my debut novel ‘Dawn in Florence’ in November 2019 and finally published it in the last week of July 2020.

I am very happy to see all the love of the readers towards my book. I was feeling out of the world that day when I saw my book on the bestselling list of Amazon. ‘Dawn in Florence’ is the first step in the world of novel writing and I believe that I still have a mile to go.

What is your book “Dawn in Florence” all about?
‘Dawn in Florence’ is a tale of unconditional and mature love that does not follow any prejudice. This is a story of a strong and independent single mother Leena Shenoy, who fell in love in her late thirties, far away from her kids and her motherland India, in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. Stunning Italy added colors to the black and white life of Leena. Her complicated love story that blossomed in the beautiful parts of Italy, taught her about that side of love, which is just like a rose with thorns, beautiful yet painful. Life is not always fair but every chapter of it teaches a new lesson and only if we learn to inhale the bright side of it, life becomes beautiful. From the magical Venice of northern Italy to the breath-taking Amalfi coast of southern Italy, from the fashion capital Milan to the architecture capital Rome, every chapter of her Italy diary was full of surprises, love, friendship and unexpected turn of events. She had never imagined falling in love with someone far away from her homeland, but love always comes without prior notice and it can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

What is the most fulfilling part of writing this book? And what is the most challenging?
Writing a book was always a dream for me and finally, my dream has come true. I have put a lot of time, energy and effort to write this book and I am feeling happy when it is published. But what makes me happier is the beautiful feedback and compliments from the readers. The most challenging part was finding out an ample amount of time to write and self-publishing the book was also a big decision. I always believed that if my work is good, it would be appreciated one day or another and now, I feel overwhelmed to see the readers embracing my book with so much love.

How much research and efforts were required on your part to complete this book?
As I have already mentioned above, I started writing this book in November 2019 and published it in the last week of July 2020. Writing and publishing this book was a bit of a journey for me. To be very honest, I did not do much research on this book. Leena and Siddharth are fictional characters and this story is an outcome of my imagination. This love story is set against the beautiful backdrops of Italy and I spared no effort to describe the beauty of stunning Italy in my book. I started writing this book just after a vacation to Italy and the young and fresh memories of that vacation helped to describe the scenic beauty of the Italian places so vividly.

Would you like to share some writing tips with our readers and aspiring writers?
If you are passionate about writing, then you should follow your passion. Be it writing or anything else it always brings the best out of you. Try to find out some time for writing every day. I know it is not easy all the time, but try to make it a part of your daily routine. Always believe in yourself and let your dreams be your wings. 

I want to say one more thing to all the aspiring writers who are planning to publish a book that, publishing a book is not only about writing, it is much more than that. If you want to be a successful author, you have to think like an entrepreneur, not only as a writer.

Last but not the least, how are you dealing with current times where everything is so uncertain?
Definitely, this time is tough but I have faith that things will get better with time and the world we call normal will be back soon. Currently, I am living in Mumbai, a city that is one of the worst-hit by coronavirus. We are almost home stuck since March 2020 which is frustrating sometimes but I am trying my best to utilize this time in learning new things. I want to tell everyone that we should not lose hope. Because after every storm, there appears a rainbow and oftentimes, the brightest rainbows follow the darkest rainstorms. Here, I want to mention a quote from my book ‘Dawn in Florence’:
“After every storm, a rainbow will smile
After every night, the sun will rise
‘Hold on Pain Ends’, that’s why they call it hope
After every darkness, there’s always a light.”

Buy DAWN IN FLORENCE From Amazon For Just Rs.245

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Books & Authors

Women Authors Cope with the Pandemic

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Covid-19 has created unique challenges for women. Preliminary research conducted by the journal Nature Research shows that women in academia are publishing fewer journal articles than they were before the outbreak. To get an idea of whether the same could be true for women authors in general, PW reached out to some who are also mothers to learn how the lockdowns have affected their work.

Prior to the pandemic, a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that women in the U.S. spend an average of two hours per day more than men on domestic responsibilities. This is due in part to the fact that women are more likely to have partners who are also employed, to be single parents, and to have elder care responsibilities. Additionally, the division of domestic labor often comes down to who earns more, and women are consistently paid less than men.

This issue has been compounded by the pandemic. Though data on women’s publishing rates in academia is clear-cut, gendered data on book publishing rates is harder to find. However, women in both fields face the same challenges: the extended shutdowns of schools and childcare facilities mean that parents, and especially mothers, have had to take on homeschooling and extra caregiving responsibilities. Hours of the day that were once devoted to work have been spent trying to keep children educated and entertained.

Alessandra Minello, a social demographer and professor at the University of Florence in Italy, studied publishing rates of women in academia and found that they typically submit fewer studies than their male counterparts. Minello works on a project called Smart Mama, for which she and another researcher recently interviewed 38 academics who are mothers in the U.S. and Italy. They found that these women had to prioritize childcare and teaching duties—both of which they are more likely than men to be responsible for—over publishing.

Minello fears that young mothers beginning their careers during the pandemic will struggle to obtain higher degrees and receive grants as a result of publishing less, which will affect advancement in their fields. She suspects that mothers who write trade books, though less likely to be responsible for teaching duties, will also slow their writing as they are forced to prioritize childcare.

Marcy Dermansky, author of Twins and Bad Marie, is a single mother to an 11-year-old daughter. Dermansky used to schedule her writing time when her daughter was in school, but that changed when schooling shifted to home. “It was just pretty much impossible to work, because she required a lot of help,” she said. “I think it’s always hard for mothers in writing with childcare, but the pandemic has made it exponentially harder.”

Spending time helping her daughter with e-learning meant Dermansky hasn’t been able to make much progress on her upcoming novel. “During those months, I didn’t even try to work,” she said.

Vanessa Lillie, author of Little Voices and For the Best, is currently working on her third book and has found that she is a month behind where she thought she’d be. Lillie has a five-year-old son and previously worked while he was at school or soccer practice. Her husband, a lawyer, spends much of his days on Zoom calls, meaning Lillie is the only one available to care for their son most of the time. “Having children in the house is just a stream of constant disruption,” she said. “It is really difficult to write on that deeper level I need when I am constantly interrupted.”

Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody’s Daughter and Necessary Roughness, has faced unique challenges balancing revisions on her upcoming novels, Finding My Voice (Soho Press) and The Evening Hero (Simon & Schuster), with caring for her autistic son, who also has other learning disabilities and medical issues. Lee and her husband are schooling and caring for their son without any outside help in their small New York City apartment. Lee said she struggles to focus at home but has managed to get some work done at a friend’s apartment. “I just have days where I feel like I am not in control of anything,” she added.

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, author of Bittersweet and June, has a four-year-old and an 11-year-old. She sold her latest book over the winter and initially thought she’d have plenty of time to complete it by the summer. However, when the pandemic struck, she found herself scrambling. She and her husband moved in with another family to share childcare responsibilities, and though she said the arrangement has provided her with a great advantage in comparison to other writer-mothers she knows, it has been difficult for her to meet her deadline. “I don’t know how I am going to hand my book in in two weeks,” she said in late August. “I guess I’m just not going to sleep.”

Robin Romm, author of The Tilt and The Mercy Papers, also found writing in the pandemic to be nearly impossible. Caring for her 15-month-old and four-year-old has left her exhausted and unable to work. “It’s not only that you don’t have the physical time,” she said, “but you don’t really have the mental space to think expansive thoughts.”

Romm’s husband is also a writer, but he works full-time as a professor. Though he has been able to help with childcare, he had to attend meetings to prepare for a drastically changed fall semester. Romm’s more flexible schedule has meant that she has to bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities.

The pandemic has highlighted a number of long-standing issues within publishing, and the challenges it has created for women authors appears to be yet another that needs to be addressed.

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Lifestyle

50% discount in water, electricity bills for people of J-K in government’s relief package

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The Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday has announced an economic relief package of Rs 1,350 crore for Jammu and Kashmir’s ailing business sector which has been affected by the Covid-induced lockdown.

As per the relief package, a 50 per cent discount for people of Jammu and Kashmir in water and electricity bills for a year will be provided. It will cover small and medium enterprises, tourism industry, among other sectors.

“We have approved an economic package of Rs 1,350 crores for Jammu and Kashmir’s struggling business community. This is additional to the benefits of the Atmanirbhar Abhiyan, earlier announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Manoj Sinha said.

He further stressed that stamp duty is exempted till March 2021 for all borrowers.

Sinha further told the reporters that a new industrial policy will be announced soon to revive the industrial sector, which has suffered huge losses after J&K’s special status under Article 370 was scrapped last year on August 5.

“We have decided to give 5 per cent interest subvention to every borrower from the business community, without any conditions, for six months in the current financial year,” he said.

“This will be a huge relief for them and will help in generating employment here,” he added.

“For one year, we will be giving a 50 per cent concession in water and electricity bills. We will be spending Rs 105 crore on this. This will benefit farmers, normal people, businessman and others,” Sinha said.

“Under credit card scheme, we have decided to extend maximum limit of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for people working in handloom and handicraft industry. They will also be given 7 per cent interest subvention. From October 1, J-K bank will start a special desk for youth and women enterprises,” he said.

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