Downtown

Holding out in the computer era

At Meena Institute of Commerce at Vellala Street. Photo: V. Ganesan   | Photo Credit: V_GANESAN

The clanking of keys from the typewriting machines can be heard as I walk down the long passage leading to Meena Institute of Commerce at Vellala Street, Purasawalkam.

There are nearly a dozen youngsters furiously typing. I expected to see school students and was therefore surprised at the absence. The group is a mix of college students and young working professionals, the latter being in the majority.

I am told some of them have signed up for the typing course to improve their employability quotient.

“We do not have a seasonal demand during the vacations, we have students coming throughout the year,” says 84-year-old S. Veeraraghavan who started the institute in 1957 with just three machines.

He claims to have inherited only Rs. 2,500 from his father. Out of this amount, Rs.1,000 went into the purchase of three typewriters.

“It was not a business that fetched you big money. Initially, the fee was Rs.3 per month, which included the supply of plain papers,” he recalls.

Currently, there are 35 machines and 100 students are enrolled — a majority preparing for typing examinations scheduled during February and August.

In the 70s and 80s, the institute had more students.

The morning batch started at 5.30 a.m. and the evening batch at 3 p.m.

“From the 90s, there was a decline in numbers. Many institutions even closed down,” says Veeraraghavan.

Purasawalkam, he says, once had 15-20 institutes.

“Now, only a few remain and we are one of the oldest institutes in the neighbourhood,” says Veeraraghavan, who retired from the office of the Accountant General.

Running the institute is tough with the number of computer-related jobs.

“Government itself has simplified the course to encourage more to take it up. Our students — women, youngsters and office-goers — believe this skill will fetch them a job,” he says.

In addition to his administrative work, Veeraraghavan sometimes takes classes in typing and short hand.

On the future plans, he says: “As long as I am alive, I will continue running the institute.”

He is helped by his son V. Balachander who takes accountancy classes at the centre.

For details, call 94453 49122.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:21:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/holding-out-in-the-computer-era/article7116901.ece

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