Foreigners learn Hindi to connect with India, cut biz deals

Raj Kumar Sharma

New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) Hindi, one of the officiallanguages of India may soon give popular languages of theworld such as Mandarin and Spanish a run for their money.

The emergence of India as a hub for global companiesseems to be attracting more and more foreigners into learningthe language.

"Foreigners who wish to relocate to India or want toset up their business here feel the need to learn Hindi formore upfront results. Though English is still the businesslanguage in India, knowledge of Hindi helps to understand thecultural nuances," says Chandra Bhushan Pandey, who runs acoaching institute that teaches foreigners Hindi.

Pandey, who teaches Hindi to around 40 foreigners in amonth points out, "The demand to speak Hindi has grown by 50per cent in last eight years. The ability to speak andunderstand Hindi increases the opportunity of enjoying Indianculture and history."

Multinational companies have been opening theiroffices in India and they encourage their officials to learnHindi for better business results and connection with theirIndian clients.

"Foreign professionals who can bond with their Indiancounterparts are very successful here. I teach them words like''namaskar'', ''shukriya'' and ''dhanyawaad'' to use in theirpresentations for good results," says Neeraj Mehra, a Hindilanguage expert based in Gurgaon.

Mehra also imparts cultural training to them whichenables them to strike an instant chord with the Indianclients.

"A foreigner who greets you with ''namaste'' with foldedhands is more appealing than somebody who just greets you witha ''hello'' and shakes hand with you," he says.

A number of foreign research scholars and peopleworking with NGOs and UN agencies in India also learn Hindi astheir field work requires them to interact with locals.

"I thought English would take me through but Irealised during my fieldwork that its a must to know Hindi,"says Juliet from Switerzland who works with an NGO in Delhi.

Cecelia, a French student studying in India says sheis learning Hindi as she wants to show locals that she isinterested in integrating in their country and culture.

The huge popularity of Hindi films abroad is alsopromoting the Hindi language.

Abuzar, a student from Tajikistan says,"Hindi filmsare very popular in our country. Thousands watch them everydayand that prompted me to learn this language."

Tourism industry is fast growing in India, with 5.58million foreigners visiting the country in 2010 and many ofthem are trying to learn Hindi to make their local experienceinteresting.

The Indian government is also promoting Hindi andIndian culture abroad. .

The Ministry of External Affairs celebrates World Hindi Day on January 10 every year for promoting Hindilanguage and Indian culture abroad. All the Indian missionsabroad celebrate this day and encourage residents of theirrespective countries to learn Hindi and Indian culture.

"World Hindi Day is celebrated for worldwide promotionof Hindi language. Foreign countries are understanding theimportance of Hindi because India is fast emerging as one ofkey economies in the world," said Foreign Secretary NirupamaRao at the World Hindi Day function this year.

However, there can be some unpleasant experiences thatcan prompt a foreigner to learn Hindi in India.

"It can be tough dealing with day to day activities inIndian cities. Some people like vegetable vendors, rickshawpullers and autorickshaw drivers do try to take advantage ofyour language gap and charge more from you," says Sharell anAustralian living in Delhi.

"That''s why, I decided to learn Hindi," she adds. PTIRKM ANS

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