Number of typewriting institutes has dwindled but the need for the crucial skill is still felt
Typewriting institutes, once considered to be hallowed learning centres, played a key role in helping students get government jobs. But not anymore. With the advent of desktop publishing in the early 90s, the decline of typewriting machines started. They should have become antique pieces but for the institutes that do ‘job works,’ and the rare breed of typewriter aficionados.
Till the late 80s, typewriting institutes were the most sought-after places of the youth. “After I completed my school finals, my parents insisted that I should join a typewriting institute near my home. The typewriting skill fetched me a job in the Judiciary Department,” says Ramanathan (47).
There are many others like him who got government jobs with ease because of their typing skill. Those who learnt shorthand as well were considered highly-qualified in the Judiciary Department, Legislative Assemblies and Parliament.
The designation typist was respected those days. Students learnt typewriting in a systematic manner from qualified personnel at the institutes, says M.Ganapathi Subramanian, one of the veterans in training students in the city.
Mr.Subramanian says the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission conducted examinations for typists and stenographer posts at periodic intervals. “I used to prepare almost 1,000 students for the exams every six months at my institute,” he recalls.
Among the southern States, Tamil Nadu, which had a regulated structure, produced better qualified typists and stenographers, he says. “Today, there is a mad rush to learn anything to do with computers. Still, there is an advantage even today to learn the nuances of typing through typewriters.”
R.Manikandan, who runs a typewriting institute in South Veli Street, says he took over the institute from his father. “Though it is not lucrative, I am doing it is as a service. Even those who work with computers can increase their productivity if they learn right fingering techniques on a typewriter keyboard.”
A leading typewriting machine dealer, A.Vallinayagam, says leading manufacturers such as Halda, Remington, Facit and Godrej had suspended production. “Only when the manufacturers have sufficient orders, it will be viable for them to undertake production. Even today, I get at least five calls from customers from Madurai, Sivakasi, Rajapalayam and Tirunelveli who want to buy second-hand manual typewriters. While, we used to sell 70 to 75 new machines of different brands a month till a decade back, it is very hard to sell even five machines now,” he admits.
The typewriting institutes that bought the machines from the dealers have learnt to maintain them on their own since technicians are not available now.
“Some of the students who are waiting to join engineering colleges do join typewriting institutes. When they practice typing in a typewriter machine, they are better equipped to handle computers without error,” an institute operator on Kamarajar Salai says.
One such student, M.Ashwini of Surveyor Colony, says: “I plan to learn the typing basics for a month.”