Indian Chinese rediscover love for Mandarin
YOUTH LEARN FOREFATHERS’ LANGUAGE FOR BETTER JOB PROSPECTS
Mumbai: The city’s Chinese population, in a bid to make themselves more attractive to potential employers from across the border, are learning the language of their forefathers. India is home to about 4,000 people of Chinese descent, who migrated to Mumbai and Kolkata around six decades ago. But given the potential career prospects associated with knowing Mandarin today, they are trying to reconnect with the language.
Kevin Chu, a 22-year-old from Andheri who is studying an MBA and looking for a job with a multinational firm, says, “Hakka, one of the Chinese
dialects, is our native language. Though it uses the same script as Mandarin, the latter is very different in many ways. We need to learn it from a professional standpoint.”
With firms increasingly doing business with Chinese clients, it helps to know the language, especially if you also have a shared lineage. Nikita Wu, a former journalist and second generation Chinese-Indian, now runs a business in New Delhi. She agrees that learning Mandarin would give one an edge. “This is a new trend. Like English or French, Mandarin is also beneficial if it reflects in your CV. The younger generations of Chinese people look at it a way to a better future. Even my sister has got her six-year-old son learning Mandarin,” Wu says.
For others, it’s just about rekindling an emotional connect with their homeland. “Penny Lee is a Chinese-Gujarati student who wanted to learn because it was her way of forging links with her culture. She is in China today. Her family had been here for many years, and gelled with the natives. Many have parents from the region. They celebrated their culture and also enjoyed Indian festivals,” says Snehal Joshi-Kulkarni, an Indian national who teaches Mandarin in Mumbai.