If you take even the slightest time to read the newspaper these days, you'll know that the two
most important emerging powers are India and China. Goldman Sachs maintains that India has positioned itself to become a dominant global supplier of manufactured goods and services, and, in the coming decades, it's economy will likely grow faster than any other. Within 30 years, you can expect India to have the third largest economy overall, right behind the US and China. Watch out for India.
Among India's huge population of 1.1 billion people, Hindi is the dominant and official language. Yet it's important to note that, as a result of Britain's long colonial involvement in India, an estimated 4% of the populace speaks English. This might not sound like much, but when you do the math, it turns out that you're actually talking about 40+ million people, which makes India one of the largest English speaking countries in the world. And the impact is only amplified when you consider that English is spoken mainly by the country's economic elite.
Although the prevalence of English is itself contributing to India's economic growth (just think of how many American call-center jobs have migrated to India in recent years), and although English will likely remain the lingua franca of the business community, it seems logical to assume that Hindi, spoken by 40% of the country, will become more important as the country grows into the third largest economy.
At the moment, there's not exactly a plethora of podcasts that will teach you Hindi. However, the most prominent one is perhaps the most conceptually cool. It's called Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies (iTunes Feed Web Site). Bollywood is the informal name given to India's Hindi-language film industry. And the idea here is that you can pick up some Hindi as they play and explain selected clips from well-known Bollywood films. So far, they've put together 21 episodes, which are a bit kitsch, often bizarrely humorous, and not particularly slick when it comes to sound quality. If you want to sample it, check out this segment which will teach you how to get a traveler's visa. Finally, if Bollywood is your thing, you'll want to check out this English-speaking podcast, PodMasti - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Bollywood & India (iTunes - Feed - Web Site).
In terms of other free Hindi language resources, we'd recommend reviewing this web page that has collected and categorized a host of web-based resources for learning Hindi. It will point you in a lot of good directions. Otherwise, if you want a more comprehensive approach, you can take a look at the several items that we've placed in our new Amazon store. Given the dearth of free options, these may be worth exploring.
Tomorrow, we end with Chinese, where we have lots of free podcasts in store for you. If you missed Parts 1 & 2, you can catch them here.