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More young Indians learning Chinese as growing ties boost job opportunities

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Many young Indians are now choosing to learn Chinese to access a bigger pool of job opportunities in Chinese-funded enterprises, as more and more Chinese enterprises go to the country to do business.

"After joining Air China, my life has undergone a huge change. No one at home had ever selected this kind of work before," Heena Nakhwa told Xinhua. Nakhwa, 26, works for China's national carrier Air China. Her Chinese name is Yi Na. "Now, I have become financially stable, more responsible. I have learnt a foreign language (Chinese) and have also encouraged my friends to learn. I won people's respect and it makes my parents proud," said the young woman. In 2015, Nakhwa went to China to study after successfully applying for a government scholarship program, which made it easy to learn Chinese. After returning home with her new language skills in October 2016, she successfully joined the sales team of Air China BOM Office. Nakhwa feels that learning Chinese was the turning point in her life. "There are five people in my family. My parents retired four years ago. I now get paid 40,000 rupees (roughly $600) more than before. If you have a good income, naturally you can give your family a better life," she said. "In my free time, I also teach Chinese. Last year, two of my students passed the HSK3 level exam." New trend Nakhwa's experience is typical of the new "Chinese fever" in India. At the Indo Sino Bridge in the University of Mumbai, events are held regularly, showcasing Indians and Chinese singing, dancing, reading poetry and performing other stage arts together. The popularity of the events gives a deep sense of a Chinese wave sweeping the nation. "You could say India is now in 'Chinese fever,' because there is a big market. Many Chinese enterprises have come, and the future will bring more and more. Learning Chinese will give more opportunities," Manu Arora from Gujarat Central University told Xinhua. Professor Dibo Jie, or BR Deepak, from the Center of Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said that at present there are tens of thousands of people learning Chinese in India. "Chinese is one of the working languages of the United Nations, and is the most used language in the world. The continued expansion of Chinese economic and political influence is prompting many countries to learn Chinese, and India is no exception," he said. Booming business In BR Deepak's view, the primary reason for the current "Chinese fever" is the significant growth in trade between China and India, which has brought a lot of jobs. A large number of Indian students and businessmen who go to China for study or work want to master the basic everyday language before arriving in China. In addition, the development of tourism between the two countries has also stimulated the development of Chinese learning in India. According to official figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, China's trade with India reached a record $84.4 billion in 2017, up 20.3 percent from the previous year. China remains India's largest trading partner. Chinese companies have put in more than $8 billion in real investment, and Indian companies have increased their investment in China by an average of 18.5 percent over the past three years. Sudheendra Kulkarni, former chairman of Observer Research Foundation (Mumbai), said China's economic development has been successful and its model is particularly suitable for India to copy. If current trends continue, the economic and trade cooperation between China and India will soon exceed $100 billion and show an accelerated development, and will also bring more employment opportunities for young people in India, he said. Talking about the future, Nakhwa said, "I want to improve my Chinese, and also teach my students in more efficient ways."

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