New Delhi: Hindi, one of the official languages of India may soon give popular languages of the world such as Mandarin and Spanish a run for their money.
The emergence of India as a hub for global companies seems to be attracting more and more foreigners into learning the language.
"Foreigners who wish to relocate to India or want to set up their business here feel the need to learn Hindi for more upfront results. Though English is still the business language in India, knowledge of Hindi helps to understand the cultural nuances," said the owner of a coaching institute that teaches Hindi to foreigners, Chandra Bhushan Pandey.
Pandey, who teaches Hindi to around 40 foreigners in a month points out, "The demand to speak Hindi has grown by 50 per cent in the last eight years. The ability to speak and understand Hindi increases the opportunity of enjoying Indian culture and history."
Multinational companies have been opening their offices in India and they encourage their officials to learn Hindi for better business results and connection with their Indian clients.
"Foreign professionals who can bond with their Indian counterparts are very successful here. I teach them words like 'namaskar', 'shukriya' and 'dhanyawaad' to use in their presentations for good results," said a Hindi language expert based in Gurgaon, Neeraj Mehra.
"A foreigner who greets you with 'namaste' and folded hands, is more appealing than somebody who just greets you with a 'hello' and shakes hands with you," he said.
A number of foreign research scholars and people working with NGOs and UN agencies in India also learn Hindi as their field work requires them to interact with locals.
"I thought English would take me through, but I realised during my fieldwork that its a must to know Hindi," says Juliet from Switerzland who works with an NGO in Delhi.
Cecelia, a French student studying in India says she is learning Hindi as she wants to show locals that she is interested in integrating in their country and culture.
The huge popularity of Hindi films abroad is also promoting the Hindi language. Abuzar, a student from Tajikistan says,"Hindi films are very popular in our country. Thousands watch them everyday and that prompted me to learn this language."
Tourism industry is fast growing in India, with 5.58 million foreigners visiting the country in 2010 and many of them are trying to learn Hindi to make their local experience interesting.
The Indian government is also promoting Hindi and Indian culture abroad.