Technical writing - the new black gold of India

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) India's attention is focussed on its earnings from software, but as English grows speedily here, the actual black gold may now come from technical writing and not just codes.

Saturday, October 21, 2006 | 8:42:14 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) India's attention is focussed on its earnings from software, but as English grows speedily here, the actual black gold may now come from technical writing and not just codes.

Some estimates put the number of technical writers in India today at over 5,000.

Says Rahul Prabhakar, 27, who runs a network called the Technical Writers of India (TWI): 'There are 2,000 of us on the TWI network alone.'

Most on his list are Indian, 'but the people who make the most noise on such lists are primarily American or native speakers of the language'.

Technical writing is considered to be a part of technical communication. It is used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, chemistry, aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics and biotechnology.

Says a member of another such group, the Technical Writers' of India Network (TWIN): 'When it was first conceived about 10 years ago, nobody had the faintest clue that TWIN would grow to its present stature so quickly.'

This, he says, was made possible by factors like the 'nearly sudden explosion of awareness about technical communication in India' in recent years.

A recent survey by TWIN found that about two-thirds of Indian technical writers were engaged in some form of writing before switching to technical writing. Most of these technical writers were in journalism, copywriting or research-oriented writing.

Prabhakar, an employee of Samsung Electronics in South Korea, told IANS that TWI has participants from all over the world.

'Anyone can join the list and get the latest copy of TechCraft (the technical writers' bulletin) delivered right in their mailbox,' he said.

According to Prabhakar, Bangalore is the frontrunner amongst all Indian cities working on technical writing 'simply because most (technology-related) multinationals are based there'.

Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai are not too far behind in this field.

But there are problem areas too as there are no specialised courses on technical writing.

'With no university courses, technical writers in India are left to the wolves. They are made to learn the ropes on their own,' laments Prabhakar.

But despite the lack of training possibilities, 'India's participation in the world of technical writing is something that everyone is talking about.

'With many software development jobs moving to India, support functions like writing are moving base too,' says Prabhakar. According to him, this is due to two factors - more competitive costs, and quality 'which is improving'.

'I would say the veterans have mastered the trade. Working offshore also helps by way of client visits and frequent interactions with stakeholders. The question is how to get more people to do that.

'So the figures are indicative that numbers are increasing. But quality will be better with continuous education.'

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