The number of Internet users in India has exceeded the number of people who speak English in this country, and the sales of smartphones increased in the first quarter of 2016 by 12%, while global statistics show a 1% drop in this respect. India is breaking up with its centuries-old tradition of agriculture development and is boldly expanding through industry and services.
India vs China
When Summa Linguae signed an agreement with India-based Mayflower, many people asked us why we had chosen India and not China. After all, the slogan “expansion onto Asian markets” is associated by most enterprises with the Middle Kingdom. But the data speak for themselves: the crisis on the East Asian markets has caused a significant slowdown in foreign investment in China, while India has become a regional leader in this regard. According to data compiled by the Financial Times, foreign businesses invested in India in the first quarter of 2015 as much as USD 31 billion, ranking this country second in the world in terms of FDI.
Comparing India and China, we must not ignore political and economic issues. Indian economic policy is more liberal as regards foreign investment. The Indian government creates special economic zones and introduces tax incentives for foreign investors within specific sectors of economy to facilitate their entry onto the local market. The Indian sales market itself is impressively big – with its more than 1.2 billion inhabitants the country is ranked second in the world in terms of population size.
Low personnel costs generated by highly qualified staff are yet another lure for foreign businesses. It should be noted that India is the first country in the world where we can observe reverse brain drain, i.e. highly qualified professionals coming back to their homelands from more developed countries to use experience gained there and start their own businesses. There is no doubt that this phenomenon can be considered one of the factors stimulating the growth of Indian economy, especially in the IT sector.
Indian LSP market
The above considerations lead us to a conclusion that India is an economy whose growth is based mainly on industry, technologies and foreign investment. Is there room for translation agencies in such an environment?
First of all, India is a country with a highly diverse linguistic and cultural landscape. The fact that more than 120 regional dialects spoken in this country (Summer Institute of Language has classified as many as 415 ones) play an increasingly important role, and the growing awareness that not all Indian people are fluent in English increase the demand for translations, both into Indian languages and the other way round. As already mentioned, the number of Internet users in India (now 400 million) has already exceeded the number of people who speak English there, which creates a new market for translation agencies dealing with localization of websites, software and smartphone applications. Such services are needed particularly by e-commerce companies, so demand in this respect is bound to grow.
Besides website and application localization, there is a growing demand in India for translation of literature and films. Furthermore, if foreign investment in India continues to grow, more and more companies will need legal and business translations (both into Indian languages and from those languages into European ones). We can therefore be sure that growth in economy will be followed by growth in the translation sector.