CEO & Founder Transoplanet
Vice President | CITLoB East Zone
[More about him here]
Turning Multiplicity into the strength
Q: What are the linguistic peculiarities of your region?
A: The linguistic scenario of Eastern region of our country is very diverse. If we go on counting all the languages and dialects spoken in this region the number will cross the mark of 220. The main languages spoken in West Bengal, Odisha, and Assam are Bengali, Odia, Assamese, and Bodo. Other languages spoken in this region are Kokborok, Mizo, Manipuri or Meitei, Khasi, Garo, Karbi. Although less heard of in the rest of India these languages are quite developed in the sense that almost all of them have some sort of State patronage and newspapers are published in these languages in their respective areas. Some of our friends from other parts of India often ask for service in Arunachali, Meghalayee or Naga language. They don’t realize that there is no such language as Arunachali or Mehgalayee or Naga. Not less than two dozens of dialects are spoken in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and similar is the scene in Nagaland. Different Arunachali ethnic groups love to communicate between themselves in Hindi (only in oral communication) while those in Nagaland communicate in English and Nagamese (a pidgin language). The scene is really fascinating for one who is passionate about languages and dialects. The other day one scholar pointed out that had NE India been a separate country it would have been most linguistically diverse country in the world after India.
Q: Tell us about translation profession and business of languages in eastern part of India.
A: We do not have numbers which can give us an actual idea of the size of language industry in the East India. Though East India comprises the metropolis of Kolkata it doesn’t look like the language industry has evolved in this region. A proper survey perhaps can give us an idea of the state of the language business in this area. As far as northeastern India is concerned, people are not even aware that such a business really exists. Many of our friends are involved in language business as freelance linguists. The main challenge in this region is the lack of awareness and training. The freelancers need to know the needs of the industry and the areas where the demand supply ratio is skewed.
Q:What do you think the language business in the region requires the most?
A: One thing that comes to my mind is that the agencies in this region need peer advice on the issues of taxation and legal compliances. Clients from other countries often ask for the sworn translations, or certified translations, which the people in this region are less aware of. Similarly, the compliance obligations in the GST regime are also the areas where education and peer advice is needed.
Q: As the CITLoB VP, what would be your focal point for the next 2 years?
A: If we could form a core group of some language businesses operating in this region then we’ll be able to discuss things among ourselves and will be able to chalk out the course of action more realistically. So, my priority would be to form such a group.
Please tell us about yourself and your entry in the business…
A:I have background of writing and journalism. I edited two Hindi dailies from this region. But the scope in print journalism is dwindling day by day. I wrote articles in national newspapers and worked for BBC Hindi too. Once I came across the profile of one of my Indian journalist friend in the UK. He had his profile on some translation platform. Seeing that, the idea struck me that I can fulfil the language related requirements for the businesses in foreign countries. I thought that to attract clients my language pair should be unique, so offered service in German to Hindi. I had one colleague in my newspaper office who knew good German. And, the first project came really quick . I was offered a project for German to Hindi which I accomplished with the help of my colleague who first translated from German to English and then I translated English to Hindi. The platforms where I had posted my profile really helped me in this field. Slowly, I evolved into an agency offering service in all Indian languages.
…and about your team, service, technology.
A: I treaded on the path of this industry very slowly and cautiously. I have a competent team which is as passionate about the letters as I am. Today, I offer translation, transcription and subtitling service in almost all Indian languages. Apart from this, Sinhala, Nepali, Pakistani Urdu, Burmese, Arabic, Pushto and Farsi are also on the menu.
Rare languages of the northeastern India is my USP. I offer translation service in Mizo, Bodo, Karbi, Khasi, Kokborok, and Manipuri (Meitei) languages. Also, I have onboarded linguists for Maithili, Bhojpuri and Konkani, demand for which has started increasing.
Q:What is your Mantra of success?
Though I am still learning things in the industry, my advice to those who have patience to listen is that treat your language experts with the respect they deserve. In translation industry, we are only as strong as our translators are. Do not burden the translators with too much paper work because they have to invest their time in more paying things.