SOFT SKILL TO TAME THE DRAGON — INDIAN ARMY FOCUSES ON IMPARTING MANDARIN LANGUAGE TRAINING TO ITS PERSONNEL

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New Delhi: With the Army’s strategic outlook towards the northern borders going beyond its traditional focus on China, it is now upscaling understanding of both Mandarin as well as Tibetan culture and language.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said the Army recently obtained requisite approvals to induct Mandarin-trained personnel in the Territorial Army at officer rank.

A notification inviting applications from Mandarin experts was issued Sunday. The Army is looking at recruiting five civilian candidates and one ex-service personnel.

The basic qualification required is graduation in Chinese language with minimum 55 per cent marks from a recognised university or graduation in any subject with a two-year diploma in Mandarin from a recognised university.

Sources explained that with recalibration of its outlook towards northern borders, the Army has upscaled its Chinese language training and has synergistically enmeshed appropriate scaling of Chinese linguists within its overall strategy.

A slew of measures has been undertaken to improve its in-house Mandarin expertise, they said.

The aim is to empower junior and senior military commanders to engage with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel as and when the situation arises. With improved Mandarin skills, Army personnel will be better empowered to convey their points in a more cogent manner, the sources said.

Incidentally, Chinese language experts are a functional requirement at tactical level and are required for providing analysis at the operational and strategic level while catering to futuristic needs and maintaining adequate number at all levels.

“More Mandarin experts are required for better exchange of our viewpoints and to understand the PLA version of their activities during various interactions such as Corps Commander-level talks, flag meetings, joint exercises, border personnel meetings and others,” a source said.

The Army has inked Memorandum of Understanding with the Rashtriya Raksha University, the Central University of Gujarat, the Shiv Nadar University for imparting Mandarin proficiency to its personnel.

Simultaneously, in-house efforts include increasing the vacancies at the Army’s Training School at Pachamari and School of Foreign Languages, Delhi. Mandarin language courses are being run at the Language Schools at the Northern, Eastern and Central Commands.

Proficiency-level testing of trained soldiers is being conducted through civilian institutes like Langma School of Languages, Delhi to assess the competence level of linguists as per international standards, the sources said.

In October last year, it was reported that the Army has initiated a course in Tibetology for its young officers and men to enable them to have a better understanding of Tibetan history, culture, language and topography.

The course, which was started as a pilot project on a voluntary basis, has been scaled to ensure that future decision-makers have an understanding of Tibetan culture and people.

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