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This online company provides maids – and lets you pick them by religion and region

While activists say this encourages discrimination, the company argues that this information helps clients feel more secure.

On Monday, a newspaper ad for a website offering to provide domestic workers drew criticism on Twitter for claiming that “diamonds are useless” so men should gift their wives a maid instead.  Many lampooned the sexist assumption that women were responsible for housework.

The ad, the company said, was being misread by some people. “The campaign was extremely light hearted and we don't mean to stereotype or discriminate women,” said Anupam Sinhal, co founder of bookmybai. “We would never dream of doing that since women are the reason we exist. Ninety nine percent of domestic helps are women. It completely depends on the mindset of the person reading the advertisement.”

The site claims that it has more than 10,000 verified candidates in Mumbai and Pune who can carry out services ranging from cleaning, cooking to child and elderly care.  Clients pay a fee to use the site. The company sources workers through maids' bureaus operating across the country by bringing them on a common platform.

But the apparently sexist tone of the advertisement wasn't the only thing about the service that attracted attention. What also stands out are the precise profiles of the domestic workers, which allows clients to shortlist candidates very precisely.

Not only do these profiles list the experience and expectations of the domestic workers but also their religious, linguistic and places of birth. For instance, a custom search pre-defined on the website allows clients to locate a “Buddhist Marathi Non Veg cook” in Mumbai or a “Hindu bhojpuri speaking part time gujarati non-veg female cook” in Surat.

A sample of the listings on the website.

While the specificity of these profiles is an indicator of expectations of clients who select domestic workers on the basis of largely irrelevant factors such as their ethnicity and religion, commentators say that the trend is worrying.

“We have already seen how Muslim women have to change their names and identities to be able to work at Hindu-dominated areas and this blatant advertising of someone’s antecedents is likely to only enforce it further,” said Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association.

Listings such as these are not just the agency’s fault but also point to the lack of embarrassment with which many Indians have internalised social prejudices. Such discrimination is already enforced through informal mechanisms, she said, but will become even more entrenched if it is validated by corporations such as

“While one is allowed to choose a maid who is comfortable with their living patterns like cooking non-vegetarian food, it is not fine to not employ someone who is from a certain district or a religion,” Krishnan said. “The company shouldn’t be allow to get away by saying that they are just pandering to their client’s preferences. The only data that should be given out is what’s relevant to the job. Discrimination on the basis of religion and caste is against the International Labour Organisation’s regulations for workers which India has not adopted yet.”

The company, on its part, says that these details are put up only for “security purposes”.

“Due to the increasing number of criminal activities relating to domestic helps, we try and give as much information as we have about a person,” Sinhal said. “Having said that we have never and will never discriminate against a person on the basis of caste, religion or colour. We offer a choice to the employer and always insist that an employer does not discriminate a person on the basis of any irrelevant information like religion.”

To be sure, other online services also offer the same feature. For instance, the website allows people to select the preferred religion of domestic workers.

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Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

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The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

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The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.


So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.