From being the privileged language of the white-collared elite, English, as the preferred mode of communication, has now trickled down to the lowest common denominator — it is these days a vital factor in deciding your employability quotient
When Lord Macaulay, through his famous 'Minute on Education', imposed English on Indians way back in 1835, he had little clue how deeply entrenched its roots would become in a country that prided itself on Sanskrit, the language of the gods. The Queen's language has come a long way in India.
Today, in this nation of a billion plus people — with a literate population of 66 per cent as of 2007 — knowledge of English guarantees a job across sectors. Be it a chauffeur, a hairdresser, a bell boy or a waiter, salutations and courtesies in English are considered so essential that often a minimum skill in the language is non-negotiable with recruiters.
A majority of F&B (food and beverage) outlets, a sector that employ large numbers of young people, insist that employees speak to customers in fluent and correct English. Manpreet Gulri, development agent for Subway, a popular fast food chain, says, "If an employee speaks good English he/she can communicate far better with our customers. We are an international brand, and our customers come from cross-sections of society. Communicating in English becomes necessary."
Karishma Dhawan, human resource manager, Oxford Bookstore, agrees with Gulri. She says that it is important for the staff to be well-versed in English because that's the language of the books they stock. "The staff should understand the buyer's needs and should be familiar with the content of the books," she says. "We get a huge number of applications and many of them are rejected because candidates are unable to speak in English. Certain job profiles like that of sales executives, store managers and public relations executives require candidates to talk confidently to customers in English. It is a musthave skill."