From Samsung’s South Korean employees to Chinese students on an exchange programme, the Central Institute of Hindi run by the Ministry of Human Resource Development opens its doors every year to dozens of students keen on picking up the language.
This time, 22 South Korean employees of Samsung have enrolled for the upcoming session, which will begin in August — in the first mass enrollment to the institute by employees of a single organisation.
According to the institute’s regional director Pramod Kumar Sharma, another more recent phenomenon is the frequency with which South Americans are enrolling at the institute. However, the largest number of students have consistently been from China because of government exchange programmes, and since these students receive scholarships to study at the institute.
In 2018-2019, the institute had 61 students. Of these, 22 were from China, 15 from South Korea, seven from Russia, four from Ukraine, three from Myanmar, two from Argentina, and one each from Japan, Egypt, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong.
Students from China, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are beneficiaries of scholarships through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Apart from this, the institute operates through an open application process and students pay a fee of Rs 31,000 per year. “The open fee-paying international teaching programme began in 1992 and initially most of those who enrolled were from the US and European countries. Recently, we have been seeing an increasing number of students from South Korea and Japan. Many are employees of South Korean companies like LG and Samsung in India…,” said Sharma.
Sharma attributes the interest to a mix of factors. “There are many who cite an interest in Hindi cinema as the entry point of their interest in the language. Many see economic opportunities — they look for jobs in embassies, and want to start joint venture companies in their countries. Interestingly, translating, dubbing and subtitling for Hindi cultural content is a big business,” he said.
For Chinese students though, some compulsions are different. A total of 21 of the students in the 2018-2019 batch are B.A. Hindi students in Chinese universities and the third-year of their programme is spent in the Indian institute. The students admit that for many of them, Hindi was not the first option.“I wanted to study German but I did not get enough marks in the entrance exam,” said Mu Yajuan, whose “Hindi” name — given to her by her teacher back at her university — is Krisha.
But Zhong Xiaoqing — “Hindi” name Akira — said that the language came to her easily. “It’s because I like watching Hindi cinema. The number of people who can speak Hindi… is increasing because students are being enrolled to it in our universities,” she said.
According to students, some who are particularly interested in the language go on to do an M.A. in Hindi or Sanskrit from Delhi University or JNU.
“Many people end up working in Chinese companies in Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Chennai. I honestly think it’s better to work here. Aaram se kaam karke zyada paise milte hain. A senior is working in Gurgaon and living in an apartment, where he has a room to himself. Uska rasoi ka saara kaam koi aakar karti hai. He gets done with work at around 6-7 pm. Bahut aaram hai,” said Liang Hao, “Hindi” name Neeraj.
….We have even had four-five older South Korean students who moved to India for seven-eight years to get their children educated here because that is cheaper here