INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH & STUDIES
Facilitating Business Communication in India
Surendra Gambhir, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
This work is dedicated to those who have and will decide to become bilingual in Hindi and English before going to India. Those are the ones that will have an edge over others in international business in the decades ahead.
Business Hindi materials consists of two volumes that are meant for those who want to work in India’s business world. The two volumes contain the following materials for ambitious learners of business Hindi.
- Volume One consists of forty-eight units on 12 different business-related topics and Volume Two consists of 48 units on 12 different topics with engaging content in Hindi. Each unit is supported with pedagogic tools of glossary, grammatical and cultural notes, and reading comprehension questions.
- Complete text of the 48 units is uploaded on an Open Scholar website (https://sites.sas.upenn.edu/business-hindi/) of the University of Pennsylvania.
- The audio version of the written texts is available via hyperlinks within the text.
- Each unit contains a hyperlink to an online dictionary that works both ways – Hindi to English and English to Hindi.
- Each unit contains questions to generate conversation and/or discussion in Hindi on business-related topics.
- The Volume Two contains lists of supplementary materials with references and links.
All the texts bear the authenticity of their original authors. Most of these materials are collected from Hindi media, Internet as well as business schools where instruction includes both Hindi and English.
The first volume presupposes Intermediate level (ACTFL) level knowledge of Hindi and Volume Two requires Intermediate High/Advanced Low level knowledge of Hindi.
With intensive study of the first volume, students are expected to reach Intermediate High/Advanced level proficiency in business Hindi. The target of the second volume is to climb up to Advanced High/Superior level proficiency.
The Business Hindi materials focus on three skills – speaking, listening, and reading. The style in these materials is mostly formal. As Hindi is a diglossic language, its formal style both in spoken and written styles is somewhat different than the informal spoken style. Grammar in both the styles is the same but vocabulary items differ. In formal styles, Hindi is highly Sanskritized.
The current materials are mainly for developing reading proficiency. The audio versions of the written texts are also to reinforce the written materials. Listening to these materials should reinforce the vocabulary, pronunciation, and the content of these materials as well as improve listening comprehension in formal Hindi.
Hindi borrows professional and scientific terms from English and these terms are often used in spoken style Hindi. Hindi’s indigenous source for coining new terms for emerging linguistic needs is Sanskrit as should be evident from a wide variety of Sanskritized terms used in units of these two volumes.
Why Business Hindi Materials?
Although the knowledge of English seems widespread in India, it is actually limited both in its extent and quality. According to the Government of India special report the Knowledge Commission of India Report 2006, persons with a reasonably good proficiency in English in India are about 1%. According to the Government of India Census figures, those who claim to know English are about 12%. In absolute numbers, 1% amounts to a large number of 1.2 million persons who are proficient in English. Most of others who claim to know English often demonstrate limited output with limited vocabulary and formulaic phrases. Most of them are at Advanced level proficiency of the ACTFL scale. Also, as one moves from metropolis like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore to smaller towns one is likely to experience even lesser proficiency in English. The international business is also entering into the rural markets where the knowledge of English is minimal. Given these numbers, it makes sense to be bilingual just the way most educated Indians are. If anyone wants to develop good business relationship with someone in India it is very helpful for a convivial relationship to speak and understand the language of your interlocutors in a different culture.
The use of business Hindi extends beyond oral interactions. There are business newspapers and TV business channels in Hindi, which consist of articles and interviews about India’s business-related matters. Hindi newspapers and TV channels sometimes present different perspectives on domestic issues than English language media. Authors of the media articles and participants in the panel discussions on TV channels are seen getting into greater depth and unique perspectives when speaking in their native language.
For all these reasons it is recommended that American students and corporate employees who are considering working in India for even for a short period consider having a reasonable proficiency in business Hindi. A good target will be Advanced Mid to Superior depending on one’s anticipated needs.
Readers’ input and suggestions are welcome.
October 28, 2014 Surendra Gambhir
This two-volume project of Business Hindi was made possible by a grant from the International Research and Studies program, which is part of the Federal Government’s Department of Education. I am also thankful to the department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania for funding my pre-grant exploratory trip to India and for their continuous support for this project.
Many professionals have contributed to the formation of this two-volume project. Dr. Vashini Sharma and Dr. Vikrant Shastri have worked with me from the very beginning in deciding the content of the two volumes and later on selecting appropriate content from a myriad of materials in newspapers, periodicals, internet, and business course materials. Their continuous support from India has been a blessing for the project. I express my gratitude for Dr. Herman van Olphen of the University of Texas-Austin for his extensive input and support in all respects. Haimanti Banerjee, Josh Pien and Dr. Anand Dwivedi of the University of Pennsylvania have been connected with business Hindi courses at the Lauder Institute and their input has definitely improved the quality of this project. Archana Geld, Karan Raturi, Meghana Mudiyam , graduate students at the Lauder Institute, have helped in formulating questions for the second volume from the perspective of business students. On the technology side, I express my thanks for Dr. Jay Treat of the University of Pennsylvania for his continuous guidance on technological matters. I also thank David Riddell of the University of Pennsylvania for uploading this entire project on the University of Pennsylvania’s Open Scholar website. Lastly, I want to formally acknowledge multiple contributions to the project’s various aspects throughout its term from my wife and colleague Dr. Vijay Gambhir. The project has benefitted from her extensive experience in pedagogy and research relating to Hindi language and culture.
University of Pennsylvania
October 28, 2014