A lot of camaraderie and a friendly little nudge were what lead to CITLoB being founded in the winter of 2018.

Between 2016 and 2018, Biraj Rath of Braahmam, ML Sudheen of Crystal Hues, Sunil Kulkarni of Fideltech, Madhuri Hegde of Mayflower, Ashok Bagri of Transinfopreneur, my colleague Rushikesh Atre and I met very frequently at industry events. The chemistry was great, and we hit it off instantly. Fun times were almost always accompanied by professional talk and that is where the idea of forming an association first took shape.

Then in the summer of 2018, I was invited by the EUATC to talk about India as the next frontier for European LSPs at their annual conference in Madrid. My talk was very well received and there was a lot of interest in India and the opportunities she offered. That is when my dear friend Geoffrey Bowden, the Secretary of the EUATC, suggested we seriously consider starting an Indian LSP association. Such as association, he thought, would greatly help EUATC’s members talk to credible partners in a market that had generated a lot of interest. Back from Madrid, CITLoB was formed within months.

Since the year 2018 was also a time when my active participation in the activities of FICCI-ILIA and MeitY had begun, I thought it would be prudent to spend time backing FICCI-ILIA in its initial days than diluting the effort by working on CITLoB in parallel. So, it was only in early 2020 that we started working actively on CITLoB.The initial plan was simple, get more members onboard, start organising activities gradually and work to create better visibility for the association and its members.

So, I decided to take care of our monthly webinars as one of the activities, while the ever-so-enthusiastic Vidula Tokekar of Panacea BPO came forward to take charge of our newsletter ‘IndoVox’ as the second activity. To create better visibility, we worked on putting in place a partnership agreement with the EUATC and a strategic arrangement with GALA. That was followed by a market survey we conducted in association with our industry’s leading news, analysis and research company, Slator and arrangements with all major industry publications to cover our events. Recently, we also launched a chapter for freelance translation, interpreting and localisation professionals.

CITLoB now enjoys great national and international visibility. Some mutually beneficial partnerships are in place and some useful activities have started too. With most of the groundwork being done, I am now looking at the remaining two years of my term to work on areas that will have a lasting impact on the association and benefit each of its members, irrespective of their size and area of interest.

As I set out to achieve these goals, I am backed as much by a competent and democratically elected team, an experienced team of founding members, industry veterans and two association secretaries as I am by the belief that getting to do interesting work, being respected for the work we do, knowing that it made a difference and ending up with a little more money than we need is what it takes to make people happy. It is this team and this belief that will thus guide all the work I plan to do over the next two years.

For freelancer language service professionals and language service companies to have access to interesting work, we plan to work on creating market access. Central and state governments can be great sources of revenue. We will work towards unlocking their potential. We will also work towards raising the entry barrier to our profession so that our customers can easily distinguish between credible language service providers and fly-by-night or self-proclaimed operators. We will partner with every university across India that offers a specialisation in translation, irrespective of the language, so that we can create a better pool of talent.

To ensure that the profession gets the respect it deserves, we have to first ensure that our members are skilled enough to deliver a quality output and conform to the highest standard of professional conduct and ethics. To that end, we plan to back members who wish to roll out association-approved training programs relating to every aspect of our profession. We will closely monitor our members’ adherence to the association’s professional code of conduct and continue to fine tune it as we cruise along. We also plan to partner with the industry and the government on initiatives of public interest to showcase our profession’s ability to make a difference. This will help us boost our professional image and credibility.

Better tax regimes, payment practices, indemnity insurance and collection agency services are also areas we aim to work on. This will ensure our members earn and save more money. We will also offer design and website support to members so that they can professionalise their online presence.There is simply so much to do and trust me when I say that we are only getting started. A large part of how successful we will be in our endeavours would depend on how our members come forward to help and how much money we are able to collect through memberships and sponsorships.

There is no magic wand and helping hands and money would be critical at every stage. Be that as it may, our intent is honest and resolve strong. The future is indeed exciting, and we will continue to work as a team in the interest of our members and our industry to make CITLoB a platform that allows members to learn, network and grow, both personally as well as professionally. Moreover, I would like every member to know that no matter what problem they have, the association will always have their back. That would truly be in keeping with our motto – united we stand, together we will progress.

I wish all of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Sandeep Nulkar