BENGALURU: The third floor of Kandaya Bhavan, KG Road, in the heart of the city s milling with people, earnestness writ large on their aces. They are at the govern ment office not for any land related work, but to learn an art: the ‘art of recording the spoken sound’ in real time, or Pitman’s Shorthand as it is popularly known.

One could hear a pin drop at the classes run by the Shorthand Writers’ Associ ation of Karnataka at the Bhavan, but for the speedy dictation of the master. TOI visited the association ahead of the 203rd birth anniver sary of Isaac Pitman, the En glishman who popularized the art, on January 4.

The association was founded in 1919 by three ste nographers, SG Narasimhai ya, DK Ramachandraiah and TN Raghavachar, working under British officers.

Among the shorthand learners is SS Nirmala, a bud ding advocate, who believes the skill will equip her face the challenges at her work place. Her speed crosses over 120 words per minute. As the dictation continues for pages together, she writes effort lessly, with accuracy.

“The founders were bub bling with utmost enthusi asm, with the main intention of maintaining their speed, if not increase it. They started meeting together and took mutual dictations and found ed this association,” says HBS Aradhya, a retired bu reaucrat and president of the association.

With the decline in the use of manual typewriters, short hand has also taken a beating Though there has been an in crease in demand for stenographers from the government as well as the private sector, in stitutions are not able to sup ply skilled shorthand writers The reason: the number of people interested in short hand has declined. There are just 80 institutions teaching shorthand in Bengaluru, down from over 400 in 2000.

Interestingly, about 90% of the shorthand learners are women, says AM Muralinath, secretary of the association, who takes English shorthand classes. “It takes over six months to understand the theory and another six months for thorough practice. Students can appear for the junior level exam after that,” he says.

Shorthand, though a fading art, still holds hope for many . “I am a typist now. If I learn shorthand, I can get promoted as a stenographer in some time,” says Veena C, a government employee.

Shorthand is one of the subjects in Diploma in Commercial Practice. Darshini G and Chraithra S, who are studying in II year diploma in a city polytechnic college, attend these classes for extra coaching.

“We do learn English shorthand in college. But we need one-to-one teaching, so we joined the classes here,” the 17-year-old girls told TOI.

Retired government officials teach at the association.Of the 1,200 life members of the associations, two are Americans.

“LeRoy Friedman and Morris Kligman from the US are the two foreign members of our association,” says Muralinath.

Source: TOI-BGLR