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Malavika R Harita leads webinar on ‘Creating a Global Lingua Franca: Internet’s Role in Creating a Common Language & Bridging the Language Divide’ for IIMB students

The session is the 18th in the ‘Tatsujin-Speak’ or ‘Expert-Speak’ series, hosted by IIMB’s Mizuho India Japan Study Centre

24 April, 2023, Bengaluru: The Mizuho India Japan Study Centre (MIJSC) at IIM Bangalore hosted a webinar titled, ‘Creating a Global Lingua Franca: Internet’s Role in Creating a Common Language & Bridging the Language Divide’, as part of the centre’s flagship lecture series ‘Tatsujin-Speak’, that is, ‘Expert-Speak’, on 21st April 2023 (Friday). The session, the 18th in the series, was held virtually via Zoom.

The talk was led by Malavika R Harita, Founder & CEO, Brand Circle and Former CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi Focus Network India, and the first woman to win the Distinguished Alumni Award from IIM Bangalore. During the session, she discussed the potential of the internet for bridging the language divide and building a global lingua franca. She expressed gratitude to two Japanese concepts, namely, the Toyota Way and the Ikigai Principles, for shaping her thinking and career. “I believe the brevity, focus and clarity of the Toyota Way, as epitomized by the KISS Principle, is crucial for effective communication.” While discussing the evolution of communication media and the significant impact that digital media has had on consumer behavior, she cited the ‘Amazon Effect’ as an example, which she said, made consumers expect every brick-and-mortar company to offer the same convenience as Amazon.

Moving on to the other aspects of communication, she spoke about the importance of a common language, or lingua franca, in promoting effective communication to foster understanding and cooperation among diverse cultures and backgrounds. However, she pointed out that even in diverse countries like India, language divides exist, and the standard set of four languages used in the past is no longer enough.

Acknowledging English as a lingua franca over the centuries, she questioned whether it could continue to be so in today's digital world. She explained how historical and colonial legacies, as well as American cultural and economic influence, have made English a language of trade, diplomacy and international business. However, she expressed her doubt whether English could truly bridge the communication gap and become the new lingua franca. “Internet is a medium and a means to an end, rather than a language”, she added.

In conclusion, Malavika Harita suggested a hybrid solution for the practicality of replacing English as the lingua franca. “There is a need of increasing the footprint of English by providing access to language learning opportunities worldwide, and standardizing transactional English usage for clear communication. There is also the need of promoting international communication in academia, business and diplomacy through new technologies and platforms.”

Link to the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNGN9IMgmXY