Members of the Federation of Southern States Commerce Institute Associations are meeting on Thursday in Bangalore to discuss implications of the recent decision of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Training, to conduct the test for the post of lower division clerk and stenographers in computers only.

This would mean bidding goodbye to the good old typewriters, say patrons of the Federation, which has various typewriting institutes in the South as its members.

“It is sad that without examining the implications of doing away with typewriters such a decision has been taken,” said P.T. Santhana Krishnan, patron, Tamil Nadu Commerce Institute Association, who will be one of the members representing the State. “For the purpose of assessment of speed, performance and accuracy, typewriters are the best.”

According to owners of typewriting centers, the technique of building speed on the keyboard can best be mastered by practicing on typewriters.

Mr. Krishnan added that in Tamil Nadu, over 1 lakh students appear for the exams conducted by the Directorate of Technical Education every year. There is also the Automation Certificate Course, where adequate academic qualification and the skill of a junior typist are a pre-requisite, that encourage students to learn the skill.

But, poor patronage from the computer-driven environment has led to many typewriting institutes take a beating. “However, Tamil Nadu has one of the highest number of aspirants for the different levels of typewriting examination conducted by the State. In Kerala, a majority of institutes have folded up, while in Karnataka the situation is bad due to lack of funds,” said Venkata Rathnam Setty, secretary, Federation of Southern States Commerce Institute Associations.

People running typewriting institutes say that the number of centers offering classes as well as those interested in mastering the skill has dwindled over the years. But, replacing typewriters would further deteriorate its interest leading to more exams in computers. However, there are many who welcome the move saying it is a computer-driven world and there are easier ways of mastering keyboard skills, such as using CDs.

“Companies are no longer manufacturing typewriters. There is demand from offices that stenos should have knowledge of computers and not many want to master the speed on the keyboard, so the alternative is to switch to computers,” said S.V. Ramaswamy, honorary president, Stenographers' Guild.

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