icon-arrow-down icon-arrow-left icon-arrow-right icon-arrow-up icon-calendar icon-check icon-close icon-compass icon-email icon-facebook icon-instagram icon-linkedin icon-map icon-play icon-plus icon-search icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube

by Eva Gudbergsdottir

Vipin Kumar Modi Putin Oct 2018
Middlebury Institute student Vipin Kumar MATI '19 interpreting for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the official state visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India in October 2018. Kumar is standing between the two leaders.

In two recent meetings between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Middlebury Institute translation and interpretation student Vipin Kumar MATI ’19 provided the interpretation for Modi. Kumar was chosen to interpret for the Prime Minister in Sochi, Russia in May, and then again earlier this month in New Delhi.

 

Kumar is a career diplomat from the Indian Foreign Service who, before enrolling at the Institute, worked in the Embassy of India in Moscow as the Second Secretary and as Under-Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi. He also interpreted for Modi during the state visit of President Mirziyoev of Uzbekistan to India in late September.

“I believe that interpreting is one of the most creative, interesting, and challenging professions,” Kumar says. “An interpreter is constantly required to switch from movies to medicine, energy to environment, disaster management to denuclearization, and from space to social issues. In short, a professional interpreter must be a jack of all trades with at least a basic understanding of a wide range of issues.”

These are all necessary qualities that also apply to his previous profession of diplomacy. “I can say that I'm happy to have made this career choice. Studying at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey —certainly one of the best institutes for translation and interpretation in the world —has been a very enriching experience, which enabled me to interpret at high-level summits.”

I believe that interpreting is one of the most creative, interesting, and challenging professions.
— Vipin Kumar MATI '19
Kumar Modi Putin Sochi May 2018
Middlebury Institute student Vipin Kumar MATI '19 interpreting for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia in May 2018.
Vipin Kumar Modi Putin New Delhi 2018
In October, Kumar again interpreted for Indian Prime Minister Modi when Russian President Putin visited New Delhi, India.
Kumar Modi Mirziyoev
In September, Kumar interpreted for Indian Prime Minister Modi during the official state visit of President Mirziyoev of Uzbekistan to India.

Kumar says that India and Russia have an important relationship, longstanding and time-tested, that is “rooted in history, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Kumar shares, adding that Russia was instrumental in setting up heavy industries in India in the years following its independence in 1947. Now, he says, India-Russia partnerships, elevated to the level of a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership,”cover “all spheres including political, economic, defense, science and technology, space, energy (particularly nuclear energy, where reactors are being built in India in cooperation with Russia), and culture.” Most important, though, according to Kumar, is the “feeling of warmth and ties of friendship between the peoples of the two countries.”

Asked what is the most challenging part of interpreting at the highest levels of international diplomacy, Kumar says that from his limited experience it is handling the sheer stress and pressure of having little to no room for making mistakes. “Any distortion in meaning can entail consequences ranging from some benign miscommunication to serious misunderstandings and tensions. I think a composed demeanor is the best asset for an interpreter in such high-pressure situations. Also, interpretation at such meetings requires full concentration for long hours, which underscores the importance of maintaining good physical and mental health.”

For More Information

Jason Warburg
jwarburg@middlebury.edu
831-647-3516

Eva Gudbergsdottir
evag@middlebury.edu
831-647-6606