July 20, 2019
India has 22 constitutionally recognized languages and 11 scripts, as well as more than 120 languages with at least 10,000 speakers each
As per a study by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), only around 125 million out of the total 1.35 billion Indians people know English
To reach out to Indians who are conformable in non-English languages and tap their vast market, regional language expertise is imperative
Regional language literacy is a big draw in the current job market, with applications spanning targeted software development to content creation
India Regional Language Manager (Globalization): Netflix Mumbai, IN
The Globalization team is responsible for translation and cultural adaptation of most things Netflix creates, from beautiful user interfaces to cinematic original programming. Our team is looking for an experienced Regional Language Manager to manage the localization strategy and resources for several Indian languages on our product and content”
Language Expert/ Sr. Language Expert: Web Dunia – India
Education: Bachelor’s Degree; Skills: Computer Skills Content & Localization: Freelance translators kindly send your applications to [email protected]. Location: Indore / Chennai. Job Description: Translation from English to: Hindi/ Bengali/ Punjabi/ Assamese/ Urdu/ Marathi/ Gujarati/ Oriya/ Malayalam/ Kannada/ Telugu/ Tamil & vice-versa”
Posted on leading job platforms, LinkedIn and Naukri.com, these are just two from over a thousand job listings seeking expertise in vernacular languages for job qualification in India. As the country’s more than 1.35 billion market presents more and more opportunities to small and large, domestic and international businesses, organisations are looking for employees who can connect and bridge the communication/language gap with potential consumers.
English leaves vast untapped markets
As per a study by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), only around 125 million out of the total 1.35 billion Indians people know English. Given that more people are better equipped in their native tongue, opportunities for people with vernacular proficiency is growing. In urban India, this challenge is less as English is an accepted medium of communication. But in tier-2 and beyond addresses, local languages continue to be the primary medium of communication. And, as India’s non-metro cities become better connected and more urbanised, sectors such as tourism, agritech, food processing, hospitality, micro-finance, healthcare, retail and e-commerce are recognising the imminent need to hire regional language experts.
Vernacular paves the way for hiring
From sales and marketing, to translation, to technical writing, content development, to social media content creation, to developing software tools and human-machine interface systems in regional languages such as Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Odia, Bangla, among others, vernacular expertise has many takers. A KPMG study reveals that 70 per cent of internet users find local language digital content to be more reliable than English language content. As a result, digital marketers with knowledge of a vernacular language find tons of job opportunities – content creators, editors, search engine optimisation professionals and paid bloggers are examples.
These opportunities are abound in traditional and new-age media houses, FMCG and in businesses catering to local audiences. Of late, regional language expertise is also creating job opportunities for homemakers, retired personnel, students and others who are looking for part-time or full-time work-from-home options. It leads to income generation and more purchasing power, boosting the economy,
Initiatives to bridge the language gap
Recognising the need to create a level playing field for Indians who are proficient in diverse regional languages, Government of India has launched several initiatives. Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) Programme launched by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is developing information-processing tools to facilitate human-machine interaction in Indian languages and to develop technologies to access multilingual knowledge resources.
In addition to research and development of technology, software tools and applications for Indian languages, TDIL is working on the proliferation of language technology products and solutions, development of standards for linguistic resources, tools and applications for interoperability. Key initiatives include Machine Translation Systems, using which data available can be translated from English or any Indian language to another Indian language; Optical Character Recognition Systems, On-line Handwriting Recognition Systems, Cross-lingual Information Access System, Speech Processing Systems using which, local language digital text can be read out by machine (TTS) and spoken words in a domain can be recognized.
The Department of Information Technology has launched a national initiative called National Rollout Plan aggregated Indian language software tools and fonts. They are accessible through a web-based Indian Language Data Centre ILDC. The Department also promotes Language Technology standardization through active participation in International and national standardization bodies such as ISO, UNICODE, World-Wide-Web consortium (W3C) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), ELRA, to ensure adequate representation of Indian languages in existing and future language technology standards.
Another initiative, Indian Language Internet Alliance (ILIA), spearheaded by Google and FICCI, is focused on popularising Indian languages online and driving policy around it.
In a recent announcement, the Government of India announced that exams for direct recruitment of Scale-I officers and office assistants in Regional Rural Banks are to be conducted in 13 regional languages, apart from English and Hindi. The Finance Minister had announced that the functioning of the RRBs are state-specific and rural-focused and therefore knowledge of the local language of that state/region would help the candidate in performing his/her duties effectively.
With such concentrated joint initiatives by the public sector as well as the private sector, language as an eligibility criteria is creating new job opportunities in India. As a spin-off, there is increasing interest among global tech companies to look at India as a large market for Language Technologies. India is emerging as a multilingual computing hub with expertise in vernacular application development.