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Emerging importance of foreign languages in India
The period after the Mumbai terror attacks saw a slump in hotel, tourism and related industries which work on international relations. Proficiency in foreign languages will not only enrich communication at the international level but will ...
THE MELTING of national borders due to globalisation has made English a global communication tool but it has also made the knowledge of other foreign languages necessary. Today, it is the need for the employable Indian population to be proficient in a couple of foreign languages as the country is emerging as a big economic players on the international stage. Since developed countries are taking interest in doing business with India, companies whether in IT or non-IT sectors are now seeking multilingual or bilingual professionals who can cater to international non-English speaking clients. There are many markets that may still be explored but where communication presents a barrier due to the absence of people who can speak both in the local language as well as English. Also, foreign languages are indispensable for strengthening the security network of India.

The period after the Mumbai terror attacks saw a slump in hotel, tourism and related industries which work on international relations. In order to weave an international security network to cut the inter-country terror link, intelligent agents must be multi-lingual. It is essential for the collection and co-ordination of information between different nations. Even Indian politicians are vying to learn some foreign languages in order to express themselves aptly on international platforms like NATO and SAARC - where interpreters play a special role. Interpreters shoulder the significant onus of interpreting and translating the right meaning to politicians. Learning foreign languages opens the mind and widens the scope for employment. Computer localization, web localization, transcription and translation require the combined knowledge of the foreign language in which it is codified, as well as English.

Major software producers sub-contract or outsource their localization and testing to small firms for cost saving. These companies in particular seek multi-lingual public relation officers and human resource managers to facilitate better corporate communication in the context of a motley work culture. There are many Indian companies whose sole service is to cater to foreign language experts across the globe. Starting from government-related work to entertainment, they provide language solutions to their clients. Proficiency in English is an added advantage for Indians who may teach foreign languages in other nations. Since it is a global communication tool, it is also observed that in most countries where people are still learning English, translation from their native language to English is a skill that serves as a propitious economic avenue.

Surveys and analysis has led education think-tanks and intellectuals to espouse the inclusion of foreign languages in the high school level syllabus. On the premise that intelligence and knowledge rule today's world, foreign languages can play a seminal role in the qualitative improvement of our work force. Other career options in the education sector that call for foreign language proficiency are teaching, translation and interpretation. Loads of research work, journals and documents need immediate translation into English to facilitate knowledge liquidity in the Indian market.

Foreign languages play a defining role in the growth of the tourism industry which makes a significant contribution to the country's economy. The prosperity of the tourism industry is directly proportional to the expansion of the hotel, hospitality and heritage industry. A network of people fluent in foreign languages along with interactive guides, form the cornerstone of the industry. As far as safety of the tourists are concerned, guides who can converse in the foreign language can issue guidelines to help them. Visitors feel that they will get true value from the trip if they communicate freely and appreciate the local culture and customs. Foreign speech ability is in high demand in the area of medical tourism.

The tourism industry represents brand 'India' on the international platform. Art, music and dance are an integral part of the tourism industry. Artists, singers, dancers and other performers can encash on the popularity in other nations by conducting classes and programmes. It is here that their knowledge of a foreign language will be handy to establish themselves. Languages are windows to familiarise oneself with different cultures and their distinctive features.

Proficiency in foreign languages will not only enrich communication at the international level but will make the exchange result-oriented and effective. Therefore, building a workforce that is fluent in a foreign language, is vital to assisting India's emerging status on several international fronts.

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