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By Nikhil Khandekar
Special for TCC
Content Developer, India
The biggest challenge that the development of technical communication and documentation faces in India is the general and perceived lack of facility with the English language. Website content, email communication, documentation, and even books and articles produced in India suffer a bias in the Western mind – and that bias is not all too mistaken either.
Wherever opportunity is available in India, there are more aspirants to it than the opportunity can possibly sustain. Everyone who aspires to a content writing or technical writing position is not really capable of doing due justice to it. Fluency and facility in the use of English have been treated with a measure of conservative attitudes and sometimes utter contempt in India by parties with unspoken, vested interests. Indian nativist theories vehemently oppose the development of English in India, for example.
In Indian companies, you could see top-rung managers, even content writers and documentation specialists, struggle to use the right word in its place or pronounce or spell it. Often, such content or documentation is laced with Indian cultural quirks, which one cannot expect native English speakers to comprehend or fathom!
But it isn’t as if India is incapable of creating enviable content. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. India has rich talent in technical writing and documentation.
We wouldn’t be very well-versed, generally speaking, in using prohibitively expensive software such as RoboHelp or InDesign. But that is only because we cannot afford to purchase the original software. There are illegitimate copies of software of every shape and form, available for the asking. But those aren’t preferred by Indian service providers, generally. Training in such software is not only hard to come by, it is practically unavailable. Except in certain metros such as Bangalore and Hyderabad, software so sophisticated is unheard of even in the offices of the services providers.
Another important disadvantage we face here in India is the general lack of acceptance of quality writing and documentation as business-critical tools. The tendency is to work one’s way around the need for high-quality content rather than provide for it. Thanks to Google, however, content is now being viewed as an essential element in the construction and optimization of websites. Technical writing is yet to come into its own in the collective Indian consciousness. Businesses that provide technical writing services would obviously be aware of its importance.
When I tell people about the work I do, they are quite innocently and honestly puzzled. “Content writing for a living? But you must do something more substantive, surely?” That’s the reaction I have often encountered – either in the words they use or their eyes.
The IT industry is still limited to its hubs in India – Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Pune. It is growing all over the country, but there are many things yet to sink into the collective conscious.