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Meet Mr. Ravi Kumar
Ravi Kumar : A Translation Professional
Mr. Ravi Kumar Mr. Ravi Kumar is the Director of Allied Modlingua Services, one of the leading translation consultancy centers in India. A visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi and the convener of the Indian Translators Meet 2005, he speaks about the role of India’s nascent translators’ community and the role of Microsoft’s localization initiative in the development of the translation industry.
What were the basic objectives of the Meet? Were there any new developments from the Meet conducted last year?
RK: The basic premise behind the meet conducted last year was to unite translators across India who were members of Proz.com, a translators’ forum on the Internet. But this time the focus was not simply restricted to members of Proz.com but also freelance translators and agencies who are independently working towards their respective goals and objectives in the field of translation. This time several Indian translators, like Hindi-speaking, Tamil-speaking, Telugu-speaking professionals, along with others in Gujarati and Punjabi, to name a few, took part in the Meet this year as well.
What are your insights about the Indian Translators Community? What is so distinct about this community?
RK: As a long-standing professional in this industry, I have noticed that the community of Indian translators is a totally disorganized mass. We aim to create a strong and visible platform which can work as a voice for this community. But this year, thanks to concerted efforts of the team, the increased awareness created thanks to the media by the media and the backing of Microsoft through Microsoft BhashaIndia, we will be able to launch an association called the Indian Translators Association.
What is the standing about this community in the global perspective?
RK: In a global perspective, the Indian translation industry can play a major role. India is a country where any individual is either bilingual or trilingual by upbringing and by interactions with his peers in society. So, most people display a wide range of phonetic adaptability to different languages that enables them to learn foreign languages very easily. They don’t have to make strenuous efforts phonetically but, of course, from a technological standpoint, they have to take some efforts to be more conversant with the present technologies available. This would probably sum up the standing of Indian translators in the global community.
Where did the participants of this year’s Meet come from?
RK: This time we had language professionals come in from every virtually every part of India, representing almost all the major languages in the country and the world. Participants came in from Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Baroda, Chandigarh along with people from West Bengal, Assam, Delhi and its surrounding regions.
You’re about to release a Directory of Translators. Tell us something about it.
RK: We have registered over 130 translators, including agencies from all over the country. We will be publishing it once we finish all the formalities involved in the conclusion of the Meet this year. This will list all the prominent agencies and prominent translators in the country, along with the services they have to offer, to any interested party or prospective client who would wish to retain the services of language professionals in a particular field of specialization.
Can you tell us something about Microsoft’s involvement in this year’s Meet?
RK: Microsoft’s involvement in this Meet has been a very beneficial factor in this year’s Meet. The assistance they accorded to this initiative helped us in more ways than one. The media attention they helped direct towards the goals of this Meet and the highlighting of the Indian version of Windows XP with its multilingual features have gone a long way in ensuring the initiative’s success. The presentation of Microsoft’s multilingual products was a well-appreciated feature of the Meet and all the participating language professionals gained a lot of insight in the appeal of Microsoft products from the perspective of their field of work. I’m sure they have seen the best of what Microsoft has to offer and their response was very enthusiastic.
What are your views about the Microsoft BhashaIndia initiative?
RK: I feel that Microsoft BhashaIndia is an excellent initiative for the promotion of Indian languages in computers. I feel that this initiative promotes Indian languages not simply in a local context, but also at a global level. Work is underway to recognize Hindi as a UN language as well. This work, coupled with the phenomenal work BhashaIndia has been doing, will certainly promote Indian languages in terms of global standing as well as technological development to the status they deserve.
How do you feel that BhashaIndia’s scope of work finds relevance with the translation industry?
RK: I feel that the translation industry must embrace the developments in technology, particularly the use of the relevant software and computers more extensively in their field of work. Very few translators are fully equipped with the expertise in the usage of technology in the course of their work. Most translators still follow the age-old method of first writing on paper, then typing them out followed by the proof-reading of the document they have created, which is an elaborately laborious process. But once they equip themselves with the technological platform, they can do their work in a simpler and more effective fashion. Microsoft Office offers many features and tools which would make a process like proof-reading much simpler. So, the usage of the current existing technologies would greatly facilitate the tasks that lie ahead of a language professional, with the host of user-friendly features available. In fact, my company, Allied Modlingua Services, can now explore ways to diversify from its present suite of services of foreign language translation services to include translation services in Indian languages, thanks to the advent of Microsoft’s Indian languages-enabled products.
Many papers were presented and some prominent guest speakers participated in this Meet. Can you tell us something about them?
RK: We had several interesting papers showcased in the Meet this year. There were papers discussing the issues related to quality control in the field of translation services, the currently existing tax structure applicable on the industry today and the identity crisis faced by Indian language professionals today. A draft proposal stating the possibility of the formation of the Indian Translators Association, which included the types of membership, the events to be held and the objectives of such a body, along with the means to be adopted to reach out to the people more effectively, was also submitted at the Meet. The Chief Guest at the Meet this year was Mr. R. Vishwanathan, a veteran of several years’ service at the Ministry of External Affairs. He is a well-versed specialist in several different languages including Hindi, Tamil, French, Spanish and Portuguese. A versatile person, he emphasized the need for language professionals to constantly continue upgrading their skills in tandem with the changing technological world scenario.
What is the identity crisis you referred to? How does it affect an Indian translator?
RK: Let us say, an Indian language professional refers to himself as a translator in a gathering of friends or acquaintances who otherwise have no other association with the translation industry. The response the professional’s statement would commonly receive would simply be, “Okay, this is what you do. But what is your profession?” This underlines a very simple fact that the translation industry generally has very little professional recognition in the perception of the masses. This does affect the credibility and the position of a professional translation in the eyes of his peers in society. This is what we translators refer to as an Identity Crisis.
How do you see the Meet achieving the objectives you have set?
RK: We are fully satisfied with this Meet, in terms of meeting its objectives. There were three specific objectives that we had set for this Meet. One was to create awareness about our platform for translators. Second was to stimulate language professionals to come together to be a part of the planning behind the proposed Indian Translators Association. The third objective was to identify leaders who would lead us in the formation of the Association for future activities. We are happy to announce that we enlisted the support of virtually every participant in the Meet towards the formation of the Indian Translators Association. An immediate goal that thus lies ahead of us is to complete the formalities necessary to officially register this entity as a legitimate body of language professionals in the country.

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