The world is rapidly changing and the digital revolution is transforming the way we do business. As the world moves towards a digital-first approach, the need for becoming multilingual online is becoming increasingly important. India is no exception to this trend, and this requirement is boosting the indigenous Translation Industry of the country. With this sudden boost, the industry is following the footsteps of an unplanned city – where some clusters are very advanced & developed while others are still working hard to make ends meet.
What problems does the industry face?
The Indian Translation Industry has a lot of issues at present, which are slowing down its growth. Some of them are a lack of unity, a lack of formal structure, a lack of access to formal education in the field, and a lack of focused investment capital. It is unfortunate that there are still no accredited universities, courses, or programmes in India for translation, interpretation, or localization. Most of the players in the industry are freelancers or unorganised groups, who often do not follow professional practices or have basic paperwork available. Hence a general sense of mistrust prevails in partnerships and collaborations. As we are not an organised group, we are also losing out on focus and attention from the Government, the financial industry, institutional investors and peer learnings.
Why should the industry form an association?
Other Indian industries like Manufacturing, Information Technology, and Telecommunications have long benefited from formal representation via associations. The Translation Industry too stands to benefit from a formal organisation like NASSCOM, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), or the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
A formal industry association brings with it many benefits:
- Creating a Knowledge Pool through Research
Today, we have no well-defined or credible data around the size of our industry, how many categories we have, the number of companies in our industry, our trends, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats. An association can help curate all this information and create a credible repository of knowledge about the industry through research which can help us, and others, understand the industry better.
- Education & Certifications
A career as a translator, interpreter or project manager may be gaining popularity today, especially as they all fit the freelance and work-from-anywhere model, however, most of the people entering this field have no formal training or education in these skills. This is because there are no colleges, courses or certifications, for translation or localization in India. An association can bring focus, funding, and philanthropy to build this ecosystem and create an environment of standardisation and professionalism. Membership to such associations often come with requirements like proofs for registration of business, PAN & tax filings, provident funds etc. This encourages professionals to be a part of a formal structure as opposed to informal or fly-by-night setups.
- Networking & Mentorship
Networking is one of the most significant benefits an association brings. It provides an easy platform where you can discover and be discovered by the giants in the industry, peers as well as new entrants. This offers the opportunity to learn, teach, collaborate and grow.
- Training & Upskilling
While studies and research help us understand trends and opportunities for our industry, they also create a need for periodic training and upskilling, so that professionals can stay relevant and up-to-date. Industries help identify suitable opportunities for upskilling and create a platform to obtain such training through seminars and workshops.
- Building Industry Best Practices
Formal education, networking, training, and mentorships over time help bring a level of standardisation that pave the way for industry best practices, dos and don’ts, guidelines and more. Avenues like conferences and webinars organised by associations, also create an environment for thought leadership and subject matter expertise to emerge. This further grows the knowledge pool and maturity of the industry.
- The Power of Numbers
Coming together to form a large group brings with it a lot of power. Power to define policy measures that can protect, support and foster growth and the power to voice these recommendations to the Government and exert influence over change. It helps us get stronger representation in international forums to increase our visibility and voice, as well as legal protection against hostile M&As with international giants. Associations are also able to get bulk discounts for services like insurance and legal services.
The Indian Language and Translation Industry is at a pivotal point today. We have the potential to grow to billions of dollars in the next five years. By taking the right actions now and coming together to build a strong representation body, we can follow the same trajectory of expansion as India’s IT or Manufacturing sectors. To quote JK Rowling, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
(The author is Ms. Vidushi Kapoor, Co-founder, Process 9 and the views expressed in this article are her own)