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Hindi draws expats to institutes

With the emergence of Gurgaon as a hub for global companies, more and more foreigners are now showing interests in learning Indian culture and language.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2013 01:14 IST
Himabindu Reddy

With the emergence of Gurgaon as a hub for global companies, more and more foreigners are now showing interests in learning Indian culture and language.

The Millennium City has witnessed a surge in number of foreign nationals wishing to learn Hindi, Indian architecture, scriptures, etc. over the past few years.

Foreigners who are living here or want to set up their business in the city feel the need to learn Hindi for more upfront results. The people from Japan and Korea form a major chunk of Gurgaon’s expat community. At present, about 3,000 Japanese and 2,000 Koreans reside in the city. As they work and reside here, they want to learn the local language for better communication.

“We have been living in Gurgaon for nearly two years. We find it difficult to communicate with locals. I am learning Hindi as it helps me in conversation with my junior colleagues,” said Hiroshi Kuze, 32, who works at a fire protection firm.

On the other hand, Hiroshi’s wife Fumie is learning Hindi for a different reason. “It helps me teach Japanese to my Indian students. Now, I am able to understand whatever they say in Hindi,” said Fumie, who teaches Japanese at a Delhi-based centre.

The couple from Japan has been learning the local language at Hindi Guru Language Institute, Sushant Lok-1.

“When we opened the institute in November last year, we had just 15 students. Today we have nearly 40 students in Gurgaon and 100 at our Delhi branch. In Gurgaon, it’s mostly professionals who come to us to learn Hindi,” said Chandra Pandey, founder of the coaching institute.

For some, it serves the purpose of connecting better with the place and culture. “I love watching Hindi movies. But I don’t understand what they say. I want to speak and understand Hindi. It’s a wonderful language,” said 26-year-old Jiga from Mongolia.

While knowing the local language is need of the foreigners living here, Indian art and architecture are attracting American scholars who visit in large number every year.

“Nearly 150 American scholars come here to pursue their fellowship or complete their research in Indian Studies. At present there are 25 scholars in Gurgaon,” said Dr Pradeep Mehendiratta, vice-president of the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), Sector 32, Gurgaon. The institute was established to promote Indian Studies in America.

According to the 82-year-old Mehendiratta, who has been associated with AIIS for the past 51 years, Indian children in the US want to learn about Indian art, history, architecture, etc. “Learning an Indian language helps them understand Indian Studies better. These children usually aim to do trade with India, teach, or get into the foreign services.”

AIIS teaches nearly 14 languages, for which, its centres are located in the states that speak the language. For instance, the Hindi centre is in Jaipur and the Urdu centre in Lucknow.

Surprisingly, foreign students also come to the city for the courses such as computer science due to money factor. There are nearly 20 students from African countries studying in Gurgaon’s Ansal University that offers courses in computer science and architecture. “The cost of pursuing the course and accommodation here is 4-5 times cheaper than in the US and Australia,” said Mattand Dieudonne, 22, a student of Bachelors of Computer Application at Ansal University, Sector 55.

According to the university’s vice chancellor, Raj Singh, the reason for Gurgaon turning into an educational hub is the availability of world-class education at a relatively cheaper cost. “Institutes here have realized that the focus has to be on generating employable students that fit in the international scenario. This is attracting expats to study here.”