Saturday, 3 August 2013


English represents, for most Indians, the language of opportunity.
Anybody who thinks that the growth of English has been a bane for India is seriously out of touch with reality. Let's see WHY and let's know HOW?!

I admit that I’m a die-hard newspaper-reader who enthusiastically waits for the newspaper vendor as a ritual every single day. Sometimes the same newspaper vendor does win my respect to be on time (which he occasionally does) and reminds me of Hindu mythological god ‘Narad Muni’ (the most travelled sage and the first journalist on Earth being able to visit distant worlds with the knowledge of all the news around the universe). I do feel ecstatic to grab my fresh copy of the newspaper from the bunch he carries. As a loyal learner who delightfully looks at the cover page of every new book he/ she gets in each new class, I too feel glad to have a heartfelt reading of the main news headlines for the day.

The other day, when I was having a quick glance of the major news headlines, I chanced upon a national daily with the headline of some hotshot politician of blaming English Language as one of the reasons for degradation of the national glory. Mr. Minister proclaims that English has caused a great loss to India by eroding its cultural values. He says that English has hurt India and we have started forgetting our religion and culture these days. Anglicization of youth is dangerous. Well, personally speaking I really do not subscribe to this deliberation and prefer staying away from it as much as I can... Here, I do agree to disagree. And there are a number of valid reasons behind the stand I've taken. And one of the reasons, I hugely believe in, has already been conveyed by the same National Daily, “Anybody who thinks that the growth of English has been a bane for India is seriously out of touch with reality. In the era of globalization, it is one of the critical advantages India has vis-a-vis countries like China. Indeed, China has itself recognized this and is seeking to catch up in a hurry. In any case, to blame one language or culture for the sorry state of another language is to miss the point. There is no contradiction between the growth of English and the thriving of native cultures. English represents, for most Indians, the language of opportunity, while their mother tongues are often the language of expression. English should be seen as cause for celebration rather than mourning.”
In a globalised and intricately connected world, English is inevitable.
And then the very next day, I came across this ‘simple-commonsense-piece-of-writing’ by another like minded reader as part of the esteemed editorial of the same national daily. And I believe he talks a lot of sense, “In a globalised and intricately connected world, English is inevitable. From Europe to China, non-English-speaking people are racing to gain competency in English. What unites the modern workplace across north, south, east and west India is the English language. Whether in higher education or opportunities in the workplace, there is a definite disadvantage to not knowing English. Today, even small towns and villages are clamouring for schools in the English medium. How real is the claim that English threatens indigenous languages? Bilingualism and multilingualism come naturally to Indians simply because our environment is multilingual. Apart from the practical benefits of knowing multiple languages, research is increasingly proving that being multilingual increases brain capacity when it comes to many other cognitive learning functions. India has already demonstrated that multiple languages can coexist and thrive in harmony.”
In other words, I Have Been There and Seen It All.
Now I would like to throw some light on the other aspects of major significance (and those were forcing me strongly of late to voice my opinion) Being a soft skills trainer myself, my job is to transform my students and trainees from ‘being eligible only’ to ‘being employable also.’ Now one could wonder how come Mr. Minister’s remark has anything to do with the employability issue of my students (read Indian youth). As an additional information, I would like to share that, luckily or unluckily, I belong to HR (Human Resource) domain. Recruitment & selection along with training & development have been two major areas of my work profile. As a recruiter, my job has revolved around interviewing tens of hundreds of job aspirants through campus placements, job fairs, job portals and walk-ins. In other words, I Have Been There and Seen It All. Now if I share my side of story, there is much more to talk about. And keeping the job fitness of an Indian youth in my mind, I would relate this issue with regard to ‘Communication and Soft Skills’ both. Let’s get started with some solid facts and figures,     
Do you know that India is facing an emergency
situation as far as employability is concerned?
Do you know that India is facing an emergency situation as far as employability is concerned? Our institutions annually produce around 2.3 million graduates, of which 90 per cent are considered unfit for employment. The country has over 350 universities, 18,000 colleges and 6,000 ITIs, which every year come out with about 500,000 technical graduates, of which, according to NASSCOM (The National Association of Software and Services Companies) estimates, 75 per cent are not easily employable. Experts say that a professional approach coupled with good communication skills (read Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization) is an important prerequisite of all technical and non technical sectors. David Graddol writes in 'English Next India : The Future of English in India (British Council, 2010)' that the three main drivers in India towards greater use of English are: education, as the demand for English-medium schools increases (this includes the incorporation of English training in vocational education); employment (many jobs, from BPO to retailing in the organised sector now require English-speaking skills); and social mobility (English is seen as an access route to the middle classes and geographical mobility within India and beyond). According to Pallab Bandyopadhyay, Director, HR of IT firm Citrix India, “Our engineers at all levels work in large virtual connected teams in the UK and the US. At the time of recruiting, we closely assess candidates on parameters such as presentation skills, emailing etiquette in addition to language skills.”

Today, corporate India is keen on hiring industry-ready graduates and has little time for on-the-job training. In today's world of cut-throat competition, academic expertise alone does not suffice; non-academic skills hold equal if not more weighting. Potential employers too, have become choosy, going for multiple interview rounds, group discussions and personal interviews. The industry today has become very choosy as compared to how it was, a few years back. In addition to asking for a good academic record throughout, companies use aptitude tests, multi-layered GDs, psychometric tests and so on, to evaluate candidates. In short, they want students who are industry-ready & job-fit with good domain knowledge, a balanced emotional condition and more importantly, good communication skills. Good communication is one of the major skills that companies look for. Then comes the overall personality of the student; s/he should be able to conduct himself/herself well in a professional environment. These figures could be Jaw-droppingly shocking to a student pursuing his/ her professional course, but sometimes it’s better to face a harsh truth rather living in a fool’s paradise. Let’s face it,

(i) Only 17% - Technical Professionals, 15% - Finance and Accounting professionals, 10% - Graduates from colleges and Universities are employable. (ii) While 80% fresher’s find it difficult to sustain their position when they enter into a new organization. (iii) And 60% of working professionals are not able to scale up in the current role.

As a matter of fact, India has a large employable
work force but only handfuls are employable.
As a matter of fact, industry bodies like FICCI, CII, and NASSCOM are routinely issuing reports about a majority of the country's graduates remaining unemployable usually because of poor soft skills. I know it’s a little difficult for not ending this blog post on a very happy note, still it seems crucial to showcase the reality. As they say, "Hurt Me With The Truth, Don't Comfort Me With A Lie." In fact, India has a large employable work force but only handfuls are employable. Why? They definitely require ‘Communication & Soft Skills’. If you don’t believe it, do not miss the upcoming blog post and get all your answers right there: 


Stay Tuned! 

If you like this blog post and wish to share your experiences/ remarks/ views on 'English & Employability'; you are most welcome. Write to me at Like on by Gaurav Misra. Follow on Twitter@pdpbygm. 

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