In the Army, the foremost personnel who learn the Chinese language belong to the Wireless Experiment Units (WEUs), which are under the Signal Intelligence Wing of the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters
NEW DELHI: The Indian Army and the Chinese PLA often find it difficult to cross the language barrier at border meetings, joint exercises and also during faceoffs. There are not enough qualified personnel to tide over this problem and so the Army has sought a translation software to not only help troops on the ground, but also read intercepts and classified documents.
The requirement for the software as stated in volume-III of the Army Design Bureau's compendium of problem statements released this week, stems from several reasons such as inability of interpreters to understand the colloquial language as spoken by the PLA personnel though they are fluent in formal Chinese languages (Mandarin and Cantonese). Even the Chinese courses at the local formation levels have not been very successful or methodical. There is little enthusiasm as learning the language gets one posted to remote areas.
The ADB states: "On all occasions (wherein the Army personnel have to interact with their Chinese counterparts) language becomes a key barrier.
The number of Chinese language qualified personnel or interpreters in the Army are negligible. Since the Chinese language course cannot be imparted to all individuals, there is a need to develop or procure Chinese language translator to solve the problem."
Army sources explained that the translation software should be such "that can be used on any device, including mobile phones. It should be able to translate intercepts, voice and documents. The software will be used by the Army's signal intelligence and also during talks with PLA soldiers.
The report, which explains the Army's operational requirements, has been shared with the academia and industry for indigenous solutions. "The 'problem definition' of the translator does not provide specifications and has been kept open to ensure maximum participation of people with ideas and solutions," explained sources.
THE BIG ISSUE
In the Army, the foremost personnel who learn the Chinese language belong to the Wireless Experiment Units (WEUs), which are under the Signal Intelligence Wing of the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters.
The WEUs are deployed along the Line of Control for monitoring transmissions in Pashto and also along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Army's military intelligence also has personnel who have learnt the Chinese language. There are also the interpreters who are present at BPMs and during immediate face-offs along the LAC.
All these personnel learn the language from different institutes, such as the School of Foreign Languages, JNU and Tezpur University. Experts say the interpreters learn from the book but don't have much conversational abilities.
Another official aware of the matter said: "This also means that quite often we are not sure whether the interpreter has conveyed our statement and translated the Chinese statement effectively."
Further, the Army also teaches the Chinese language at the local formations. At the corps level, there is a cell that conducts classes for Jawans. "Every unit has to send two to three Jawans for the course. Learning the language is a continuous process and quite often the participants proceed on leave and someone else comes in their place. Also, a unit can be reluctant to spare its Jawans for the course," explained an expert.
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