New Delhi: It makes eminent sense: if you are going to be a master of the universe, it would help to know the language (or languages) spoken by most of its inhabitants.
Several Indian business schools are offering students the option of learning Mandarin, and at least one of them has made it mandatory for its students to learn the language.
Even mathematically, that should give these students an advantage: assuming that a student at an Indian B-school knows Hindi, English and Mandarin, he or she will be able to communicate with at least half the world’s population.
Bala V. Balachandran, founder of the Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai, said that knowledge of Hindi, English and Mandarin are a great advantage for any young manager. “You have to learn the language of the country, which is leading or going to lead the global economy,” said Balachandran, whose school has made it mandatory for all students to learn Mandarin.
China’s economic surge over the past decade has also prompted several schools to offer a course in Mandarin. The Chinese economy is the second largest in the world (after the US).
“Looking at the emerging world order, it’s important that a business manager understands the language of a country that has a huge say in the global economy,” said a spokesperson for the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Shillong, which offers a course in Mandarin.
Trade between India and China is growing at 40% a year and was $60 billion (around Rs2.87 trillion today) last year, Mint reported last week, citing Industrial and Commercial Bank of China president Yang Kaisheng.
“China is emerging as a huge economy and bigger things in trade and business are set to happen between India and China. By imparting Mandarin to our students, we are expanding the horizon,” added the IIM Shillong spokesperson.
Other schools and institutions offering a course in Mandarin include Mumbai’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and Centum Learning Ltd, an associate of Bharti Airtel Ltd that offers postgraduate programmes in management. IIM Kozhikode planned to start offering a course in Mandarin this year, couldn’t for a variety of reasons, and could “have something from next year”, according to the B-school’s chairman of international exchanges and strategy, M.K. Nandakumar.
Knowledge of Mandarin could also help students land better jobs. IIM Shillong’s spokesperson said that while the school didn’t try to leverage the Mandarin course during the last placement season, it may consider doing so.
“It may not have an immediate effect, but (it) will benefit (students) in due course,” said Easwar Krishna Iyer, director of admissions at Great Lakes.
Interestingly, the Union government-controlled Central Board of Secondary Education expressed its intention to start a language course in Mandarin last year, though nothing has come of it.