Indian Business Ethics and Culture

If India …is what you are heading for, then leave aside all your previous experiences of Business trips and be prepared for the unexpected and the strange.

The Good News: India is not about Namaste only. And No! You will not see snakes and sages at every corner. India is at present world’s biggest emerging economy and so you can expect the unexpected.

  • The ‘namaste’ forms an important part of Indian etiquette and is generally used while greeting and saying good-bye. However, educated Indian men and women, who are acquainted with western customs, prefer shaking hands.
  • While greeting any individual use his or her title (if he has any). To mark respect, you may suffix ‘Mr, Mrs’ to the name of a person.
  • In India, guests are treated with utmost respect and courtesy. International travelers can expect to enjoy the Indian hospitality. At the same time culturally and as a mark of politeness, Indians have difficulty in saying no. This could be a stumbling block in negotiations and in closing contracts.
  • The proficiency over the English language for the average middle class is commendable. Official communication, letters, faxes, emails are generally received without any hitch, but it would be prudent to cross check if the transmission has reached the receiver.
  • In India, Companies follow the hierarchical system and decision making is usually from the top to bottom. It could at times be time consuming. International companies show respect to this.

The Bad News: Well let’s not call it bad, but people will have to adapt certain things when they are in India.

  • Wear a money belt. There is almost no violent crime in India, but there are some really amazing pickpockets. Keep your passport and at least one credit card in your money belt. Keep a small amount of money in your pockets.
  • Dress up more than usual. Indian business people wear beautiful suits, spotless and impeccably ironed shirts and polished shoes. Women usually wear pant-suits or long skirts or else the colorful and beautiful native salwar kameez or sari outfits. I recommend that American women not try a sari for the first time for a business meeting – they can be rather tricky.
  • The notion of time, time management, punctuality is still an anathema in India. It is more to do with the mindset and ingrained in the Indian culture. It would not be surprising if meetings are postponed, re scheduled, cancelled or organized at a very short notice.
  • Bureaucratic hurdles and a laidback approach to work in the government circles could result in delays in processing, overload of paperwork and a general lack of confidence in the system. Therefore immense patience is very much necessary for any business transaction in India.

So once you are able to digest all that, then you are in for it and we guarantee that you will enjoy the trip to the utmost.


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