With the rise of the global, political, economic and cultural influence of South Asia, professional proficiency in Hindi and Urdu has become a unique asset for any student interested in an international career. Visitors to metropolitan areas of South Asia may all too easily be misled into thinking that English is a universal language of Indian business: the reality is that Hindi-Urdu holds a vital place in the South Asian business world, and global professionals need a high level of proficiency in these languages when working and studying in India.
Other key areas in which Hindi-Urdu is essential for communicating effectively are political discourse, public health, rural development, the media, the negotiation of gender issues, social justice, child welfare, and labor issues. Students who wish to study these topics, work with non-governmental organizations, or fill the need for language experts in the federal government will face serious obstacles without Hindi-Urdu language proficiency.
Major companies and government agencies are increasingly looking for employees with advanced language skills in Hindi and Urdu. The various opportunities emerging for Hindi-Urdu speakers can be grouped into four main categories:
Economic: Through business-process outsourcing, information technology, telecoms and manufacturing, India has created an economic boom that rivals the rise of China. Corporations such as Reliance, Microsoft, Dell, Tata, and Wipro are either of Indian origin or have developed major ties to the subcontinent over the past decade. Thus, fluency in Hindi-Urdu is a major asset for those seeking a career in international business.
Political: The political focus of the 21st century is increasingly centering on South Asia. With conflict and reconstruction in Afghanistan, political change in Pakistan, and the emergence of India as a global superpower, knowledge of the region’s key languages — Urdu and Hindi — is a crucial asset for careers with political organizations such as the United Nations or the U.S. government.
Non-profit: South Asia is home to more nongovernmental organizations than any other region in the world. Fluency in Hindi-Urdu is crucial to everyday work in many of these organizations. From large-scale international organizations such as Doctors Without Borders to village-operated micro-credit unions, opportunities abound for Hindi-Urdu speakers.
Cultural: Home to some of the world’s largest film, fashion, media and music industries, South Asia exerts an increasingly dominant influence on global culture. This region has literary, religious, and aesthetic traditions stretching back thousands of years, many of them still proving highly influential in the mechanics of contemporary South Asian society and in the large and influential South Asian diaspora worldwide. Studying Hindi and Urdu yields an unparalleled cultural education and a key to understanding major cultural currents in the world today.