By Anwesha Ganguly
When Paris went into a lockdown two weeks back, Chandrika Bahadur’s colleagues in France were in a bit of a fix since the office had shut down. But now the director of Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a non-profit organisation, zooms in to her teams in New York and Paris. "They were not used to working remotely as a norm. Now, we do a sort of breakfast call between 8 and 9 - Paris time. There isn't always an official agenda, sometimes we just say hello and chat, it's more a catch-up meeting," Bahadur told FE.
Indeed, the Zoom has become virtually indispensable, says Samyukta Subramanian, programme head, Pratham, who now conducts back-to-back education programmes on the app. Most participants, across 20 states, live in the interiors, not the metros. "The video connectivity is high and getting many participants on the link is easy. Also, since we can share a screen, even while we're speaking, everyone can see a document," she points out. Subramanian says, it's also possible to keep out background noises — which are unavoidable with people working from home — by muting them.
Thanks to Zoom, Bengalis don't need to give up their "adda". Niladri Mazumdar, president and COO, Seiko Watch India, first tried what he calls a "Zoom party" four days ago. Five families from across India logged on. "Bengalis love chatting with each other. So, the point was simply to sit down, have tea, or coffee, or a poison of one's choice and to socialise. We have decided to do this twice-thrice every week," Mazumdar said.
It’s never too early to begin. Seven-year-old Vedant uses Zoom for his school lessons. Says his father, Saurav Sanyal, managing partner at consulting firm Strategica. "For the past few days the teachers have been reading out stories to the kids over Zoom." Sanyal, of course, has been using Zoom extensively to talk to his clients who are all overseas. But he's delighted his son too is doing so. Keeping the kids quiet can be a challenge. "Parents have now been told to keep their children's screen on mute by default. The kids can raise their hands, as they do in class, and the teacher can remotely un-mute you," Sanyal told FE. The numbers are zooming up. According to LearningBonds.com, downloads of Zoom app have jumped by 1,270% in the month to March 22. The total downloads were 1,71,90,100 of which the Android downloads numbered 85,62,600.