Technical communication in India: a story of progress

The 17th STC India Annual Conference starts on Friday, with a great program and a great list of speakers.

1350px-Flag_of_India_svgThe enthusiasm for the event reminds me of 2011 when I presented a workshop at an STC India conference. Here, paraphrased, is what I wrote then:

India’s flag features a wheel that symbolizes three aspects of the national character: self-reliance (the wheel was originally meant to represent a spinning wheel), duty and propriety as embodied in the law of dharma, and movement.

The last of the three — movement — sums up a lot of what I’ve seen so far in India. On the street, everything is constantly moving at different paces and in different directions. But it’s moving, and somehow it all works: people get where they need to go, in one piece. Movement, or more precisely progress, also describes the many new buildings and office parks that house many of the world’s great technology companies.

Amid this progress, and certainly part of this progress, are India’s technical communicators. I’ve met several of them through social networking and in person.

STC’s India chapter, and the people in it, are definitely on the move.

Since then, the progress has surely continued. Since the turn of the century Indian technical communication has gone from primarily an outsourcing industry —  where Indian writers supported development groups in Europe or North America — to one in which writers supported Indian development groups but still worked largely for foreign companies, to today’s mix of writers working for foreign companies, for Indian companies, and increasingly for themselves, as freelancers.

stcindiaAs part of this progress, the writers themselves have grown in their skills. Some have moved into more responsible roles like manager or information architect. Several Indian technical writers are building international reputations as leaders in our field.

The Indian technical communication community serves as a model for how to develop a profession in new cultures and new markets.

While the technical writers in India deserve most of the credit, I’m proud that STC has played a part by helping disseminate knowledge and by providing a framework around which to build a community.

If you’re attending the STC India Annual Conference, I hope you’ll have a good time and I wish I could be there with you.

Acknowledgement: I’m indebted to Wikipedia both for the flag image and for the material about what the wheel symbolizes.

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