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But For English I'd've been Papaji in Patiala: Sidhu

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 18 (UNI) What started out as a school of spoken English in a garage in Chennai's Thyagaraya Nagar 25 years ago, set its foot in the Capital today-- expanding to tap a Re 1,500 crore nationwide market.

''We have to speak what the world speaks,'' cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, playing Vivekananda English Training Academy's mascot, told journalists, adding that ''but for English, I would have been a Papaji in Patiala.'' The Academy-- VETA-- promises to help students ''speak fluent English''-- a promise it has kept to 1.8 million of them since setting out, according to managing director Ganesh Ram and executive director K V Rajan.

They said globalisation has fuelled the demand for English language speakers-- and therefore for schools which can teach the skill.

VETA which already has close to a hundred branches in South India opened a centre near Delhi University today and plans to set up a thousand by 2010 through franchise.

It also plans to venture abroad to such destinationas as Malaysia and Singapore.

VETA spokesmen pointed to close to a million jobs in retail and equal numbers in information technology areas and services, in which there was a strong pull for spoken english.

''Communicating in English has taken a new dimension in the country and has a lot of scope as a business,'' Ram said, adding that ''expansion into the North will put us on the National map and carve a leadership position for VETA.'' As Sidhu put it, young Indians minds are decolonised and see English as ''one of India's many languages.

''They are comfortable mixing English with Hindi words in a fashionable mix called Hinglish... increasingly pan-India's street language.'' MORE UNI MJ NK KN1732

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