V.Raghunathan
Process Industry Consultant / Soft Skill
Nashbramhall
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Consultme
Entrepreneur
Mandy007
Sr Hr Executive
Abhishekyp
It Professional
Unnikrishnamenon
Bramch Head Idbifederal
+3 Others

Before starting this discussion I want to make one thing clear i. e. I have studied in English Medium School. I understand that if we want to work in reputed companies we have to speak fluent English.

It is said that if we take education through our mother tongue we understand the subject very well. English is a foreign language and now it has become a global language. Every country in this world is proud of their national language and mother tongue. The fact is we are not proud of our national language and mother tongue. Anyone speaking in mother tongue is considered vernacular and people who speak in English is considered sophisticated. Chinese, Japanese, German, French and Spanish people conduct their business in their own language and they are not fluent or they can't speak English properly. But yet their country is developed.

Many of my relatives have studied in Marathi Medium and they are too good in understanding any subject say Maths, Science, Geography etc. Many of them are working in top companies and they hold top positions in those companies . (yes they did brush up their language skills). Their conceptual understanding is also much better than English medium population. This proves that language cannot be a barrier to build a great career in life.

If any company wants to become successful in India they have to satisfy the needs of Indian population which majority of them live in rural areas and not all of them are expert in speaking English. If this is the case then why many bright candidates are rejected during interview process just because they can't speak English properly.It is fine if they are rejected on other grounds like lack of relevant skills, knowledge, experience etc

My next question is directed to corporate India. When u say communication skills how do you define it? A person can be an excellent communicator even in his own mother tongue or national language. For eg. Sushma Swaraj. Unfortunately the word Communication has become synonymous with speaking English. Communication means speaking a language with correct Grammar and pronunciation.

Please give your opinion on this topic. I know that communicating in English is the need of the hour but I will appreciate everyone's view on this topic
12th July 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Mandy007,

You seem to have missed one point. All the countries you have mentioned have only one official/National language. However, India has many. It was for that reason among others that India is sometimes referred to as the Indian sub-continent. Please tell me what language should a person from Maharashtra use when working in Karnataka or Tamil Nadu or vice versa. Also, the countries that you mentioned were not colonized by the British and became industrialized at the same pace as the British without the help of the English language. English is the language that has united India not HINDI or any of our other official languages.

So, kindly tell me which language should corporates use without giving any undue advantage to people speaking their own mother tongue? My mother tongue is Tamil (I can't read or write in it.), my regional language is Kannada (The official language of Karnataka.), which I can read, write and speak fluently; I can also read, write and speak HIndi, but not fluently; I studied that as second language, English was my first language since aged 11. so, if I were working in any state other than Karnataka, which language should I be using?
12th July 2013 From United Kingdom
Speaking English like British is not the only criteria to mark a person as a Good Communicator. Language is only a medium.

Certain Jobs demand specific language skills - it could be English, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Arabic, Mandarin..

Here is an interesting post on communication

1. In knowledge industry particularly IT, ITeS, KPO etc, English is the leading business language as the customer base is across the world. However when deal with China, Middle East, Japan, Russia, France, companies use either translators or people with respective country language skills

2. In India, if we look at Metros and Mini Metros, English has been accepted as the most preferred business language. However when we go to Northern Part of India, Hindi is equally important as a business language

3. Across India, to work in certain departments, local language skill is a must ( Eg:- A person who can not speak Tamil can never function as an effective IR Officer in a Tyre Manufacturing Company in Coimbatore)

English is a good language and this has helped Indians to establish a better rapport with people from other English Speaking Countries. This also helped India to cross geographical barriers, create more business opportunities, export revenue etc.

@ Nashbramhall - With great respect to your experience and opinion, I express my disagreement to one point. Unable to agree with the opinion "English is the language that has united India not HINDI or any of our other official languages". Before 1947, our literacy rates were not so good, Kings were not speaking English and all our freedom fighters were not speaking English. The constant urge towards freedom and the efforts of millions of people across Hindustan under the leadership of many great leaders made United India, a reality. The colonial rule and slavery imposed by East India Company acted as a catalyst for people to unite and fight for freedom.
12th July 2013 From India, Bangalore
Dear Consultme, I take your point. But please tell me, what is the Official language of India? If instead of English, had they said any of the other languages was the official language, would it have been accepted. I remember what happened in Tamil Nadu and other non-Hindi states, when Hindi was made compulsory. Even now, though Hindi is the official language, "the constitution requires the authoritative text of all laws, including Parliamentary enactments and statutory instruments, to be in English, until Parliament decides otherwise". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langua...tatus_in_India
12th July 2013 From United Kingdom
Dear Natbramhall, You are talking about Small portion of Hindustani. If you see the survey, HINDI will stand above all languages and above all HINDI is recognised as our MATRIBHASHA. Further, Corporates does only means White Color People, it the hard effort of Blue color people, who speak HINDI more often than any other Language.
I totally agree with Consultme for putting HIndi above all.
So pls dont creep when English is critised. No one can replace HINDI or even Sanskrit. It is the HINDI which kept Hindustan United and those who speak English have rather divided our country like British did. Sometimes it is required like a person must know Tamil, if he or she wants to work with Rural Tamils. English Speakers will be felt like Strangers.
13th July 2013 From India, Delhi
There is no harm in communicating in English but my objection is why should you consider a person unsophisticated just because he can' t speak English properly.English has become synonymous with sophistication. If someone can't speak in English they are ridiculed. Why?
It is a foreign language. Even if we speak English clearly we still can't match the accent of Englishmen because they were born to speak. As mentioned in my post we are ashamed to speak in our mother tongue even with people who belong to our mother tongue? Why? My main concern is we are losing our identity and we are underestimating the power of our mother tongue or national language.
13th July 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Mandy007,
Nothing to be upset. We have taught entire world with our Skills and knowledge since ancient times and those times will come again. Let some narrow minded english speaking people try to divide our ever solid unity of HIndustan, which is bound to fail till we all are united.
13th July 2013 From India, Delhi
Mandy i too accept your view point
we need english as common language or it has become a business language.. but understand english we need some structure which can be given oly by our mother tongue.....
we need english for growth in our career.... we have made so...........
13th July 2013 From India, Coimbatore
Hi

Some how the discussion is becoming hot and few seems to be taking it personally I feel. If not fine.

India was divided to many states based on language only. Same languge will make the administration convenient. Still we are united. We were not united previously and all the kings fought each other.This was for a particular period especialy just before the colonialisation. But in the anicent India under great emperrors we were united which included Pakistan also. so time to time there were unity and division occoured not only for our country but also for the great countries in the world. so I dont agree a language can unite any nation. But the culture can. Geography can. Rest of the asia is influenced by the Indian culture. The world and our society contiue to prosper becsue of laws only. Imagin if there is no low, they people will kill, loot, rape, homicide and genecide will happen. Now this union of states called as India is trying to break the language barrier. Not only within the country but also internationaly for opportunities. Hindi is a fantastic language. I love Hindi.

Especially for south Indians English is the more used language after their mother tounge. All the languge is India except Tamil(I dont know any more language like that) are Originated from Sanskrit. I Understand kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam is my mother tongue. I can communicate in all south Indian languages and Hindi. But I am not proficient. In the initial days of my career English helped to connect with my customers in Bangalore. Later on I learned kannada also. India has so many beatiful languages. But we need English for our growth.

I would like to answer the question why candidates are rejected who does not speak good english. In my organisation I never considered proficiancy in English as a yardstick to select people in the front line mangerial level. But good english if they had they would have been more confident. It is like dressing.

Why do some body dress up well. All those reason people talk about is correct. But first and formost it is to impress the other person and influence him in the way we want. Also many things like gender, climate, culture, cost, convenience is taken into account. People respect and adopt what is good. We cant impose up on. So is English language. Imagine a senior manger speaking broken English. He cant command respect. Why if you ask me the answer is "it is like that". So If you want to grow high you decide.

If you want to study further and research the material are available in English only. Wikipedia gives answers for so many things, which we would not have learned in college, and many others cannot answer your question. We should be global citizens also. We are proud to be Indians and we should be proud to be speaking good English too. We are far better than any other Asian.

Lungi is a cool way to dress. Even white Dhothies are also called as Lungies and prestigious in South India and we wear it for all noble Occasion. But we cant go and attend a meeting wearing lungi.

Corporates are highly influenced by the western way of doing business. And they do business with other countries also. Foriegn companies when they invest they will have their people in the director board. So the influnce is driven by economy also.

Beggers in US and London also speak English. So knowing Engish is not the symbol of his caliber. When you have the caliber and you are also savy in English you get better oportunies.

Do you know there are International speakers who is paid 50000 dollors for one speach. If some one want to grow accept the truth that English is a must. Other wise keep fighting and prove which language is better and waste your time(I was jocking ok).

Becasue of our English only we are able to post and read and comment in this site also.

Regards
13th July 2013 From India, Mumbai
A blogger wrote a personal message to state that people did not appreciate my point of view and the debate has moved away from the topic. If that's the case I am sorry.

Let me make certain things clear. Just because HINDI has been called the Matribhasha, it won't become the mother tongue of people whose mother tongue is Tamil. Bengali, etc. As I pointed out before, I know how to speak read and write in Hindi, Kannada, and English; I do not know how to read or write in my mother tongue (Tamil). Someone said in their response that it's a shame that people do not feel good to speak in their own mother tongue. You will be perhaps surprised, if I tell you, that a number of children born to first generation immigrants to UK do understand our mother tongues (we speak that at home.).

Coming to point of the discussion, I recall having to go to Calcutta (Present Kolkata) on duty from LRDE to inspect generators being manufactured. What language should I have used? Of course in the 1960s, within the company the supervisors and workers spoke in Bengali and spoke to me in English. We did not expect them to speak in fluent English. If a person did not know English, someone else would translate it for us.

In the era of Globalization, even the Chinese are learning English; I have taught over 40 Chinese students who came to study MBA. Even now, I am in touch with a few and the common language is English. I am not defending the use of English, but it happens to be used more widely than any other language.
13th July 2013 From United Kingdom
Hi Mandy

You have triggered an interesting and relevant discussion on a topic that surfaces time and again.

I would like to share my views on the points raised by you.

In my opinion it is incorrect to say that Corporates stress on the proficiency of English for all their recruitment. The language skill is considered only on need base. For example if a tradesman is to be recruited his language proficiency is not given that much importance as much as his skill in his trade. Not knowing English does not automatically mean that a person is very fluent in his mother tongue. There are many who are not very adept even in their mother tongue,still do a good job and be successful too.

I always maintain that COMMUNICATION is to be seen from two angles. One is the Language part and the other is the Behavioural part. Should you be interested you may like to go through some of the postings in Cite HR. Many members have made useful contributions on this score. Here again one point is to be stressed. Whether it is English or the Local language, adroitness is taken into reckoning based on the job requirement.

It is not an inflexible MUST.

The prominence and importance of English has been already discussed in detail by fellow members

V.Raghunathan
16th July 2013 From India
Please read the article at Urdu as medium of instruction and compulsory subject - DAWN.COM
As I have been away from India for over 45 years, and visit India for short periods, I am not conversant with recruitment policies. However, in 1960s when I was there, as Raghunathan has clearly stated the requirement of a good command of English was not required for all jobs.
16th July 2013 From United Kingdom
In a corporate world,
An individual is expected to communicate his ideas/concerns/suggestions to employer & customer in effective manner. In a multilingual work environment a commond denominator language is used for communication. It can be English or Hindi or any other language.
Its more important how you communicate your thoughts effectively rather than your pronounciation & vocabulory.
In a customer facing role, an employee can be expected to have a good command over language & pronounciation.
Languages are beautiful things to learn, with all Indian language & scripts giving you a strong command over grammar & pronounciation, its not difficult for us to learn any new language.
People are giving undue importants to English. Its just one of the language
Regards
Abhishek
16th July 2013 From India, Mumbai
Dear Mandy and others,
Please excuse me for not answering the second part of Mandy's question to corporates. I searched and found a good piece (104 pages) about Business Communication at <link no longer exists - removed>
16th July 2013 From United Kingdom
Thanks Mr. Unnikrishanan for putting your point and explainging the use language by giving respect to all language. I am sorry if anyone has felt offended although it was not my intension.
16th July 2013 From India, Delhi
Good to see that forum members are getting in to consensus, now.

During the course of the discussion, unfortunately it has been hijacked by language sentiments.

The personal disagreement was on 'what made united India' and not on whether English is great or Hindi or 100s of Languages.

British tried to destroy the culture and heritage of rest of the world with colonialism. However we have not treated English or any other country in the same manner. Eventhough English is a foreign language (the word foreign itself is relative, today), you can find many forms of colloquial English across India. Kolkata, Trivandrum, Kochi, Chennai, Bangalore, Indore, Mumbai, Delhi, Bhopal, Ahmedabad etc. This shows how much we love this language.

At the same time, we should not worry much about medium of communication. We need to be really passionate about what we are doing. Language is not going to be a hurdle for best products or services. Hope these two examples can substantiate this view

1. Alchemist, originally written in Portuguese has sold more than 30 million copies in 56 different languages, becoming one of the best-selling books in history and winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author

2. China became the global hub of production eventhough Chinese are very poor in English Usage. Even user manuals of products (multi lingual) are getting printed there!
16th July 2013 From India, Bangalore
yes.
English language has a very big role in corporate India.Since India is multi-lingual country English language is playing an important role. Not only in corporate sector but also in other sectors English Language is becoming more and more important day by day.
Because of British dominancy for two hundred years mindset of Indians have changed. Indians are adapted with western culture and habits. One single Indian language has not become the acceptability among the Indians as common language.
Communication does not means the proficency in any particular language. Communication is the understanding the messages which is transacted among the people.
It is unwise decision to consider english proficiency just similar to commonication.
17th July 2013 From India, Mumbai
Hello,
Thank you for a very enlightening discussion.
Much has already been said and different viewpoints covered.I just want to point out that even though english is 'official' business language,in corporate India,it is Hindi or any other Indian language which is used more often to discuss issues.This is typical when managers are talking verbally and not thru official channel.Most important discssions happen in such conversation and even decisions are made.(Which are officially communicated later in 'English').
So nothing to worry Mandy,all our language heritage is safe and thriving.By the way,you must be aware that India is a country with second largest number of english speaking population(After US as per Wikipedia).So why bother? We could just announce English as one more of our regional language! (If Britain can claim 'Indian Curry' as their dish,then why not?)
Thanks Once again.
8th August 2013 From India, Mumbai
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