±JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Get useful expat articles, health and financial news, social media recommendations and more in your inbox each month - free!



We respect your privacy - we don't spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Business Culture

India - Business Culture


India is a vast country with many cultural variations, and business protocol varies between regions and types of organisation. In general, you will find Indians very open and friendly, and the business culture fairly relaxed. At the same time, India is a very hierarchical society, in which people's status and roles are very clearly defined. You should always be respectful and deferential to senior people, and use professional, academic or personal titles when addressing Indians. There are relatively few Indian women in senior business posts.

The national language is Hindi, although a number of different languages are spoken. English is the main language of business and it is not necessary to translate English-language materials or business cards into Hindi.

You should arrange meetings in advance, avoiding national, regional or religious holiday times. Breakfast and lunch meetings are becoming common, but business dinners are generally for socializing rather than negotiating. Try to make initial contact with the most senior person in the organisation, even if they refer you to someone in a lower rank, as their influence may help your bargaining position.

Although you should try to be punctual for meetings, Indians have a relaxed and flexible attitude towards time, and may turn up late or reschedule at short notice. Normal business attire is a conservative suit and tie for men, although a short-sleeved shirt is acceptable in hot weather, and conservative dresses or trouser suits for women.

It is common to shake hands as a business greeting, although Indians will greet each other by bringing their hands together to their chest and bowing slightly. Business cards are exchanged on meeting; you should give and accept cards with your right hand and read them respectfully before putting them carefully away.

There is always small talk at the outset of meetings; this is often on general topics such as the weather or sports, but it is also normal practice in India to discuss family and other personal details. Indian business is based on relationships of trust and mutual respect, and Indians are keen to get to know their business contacts on a personal level, and to understand the wider context of their business, which may sometimes give westerners the misleading impression that they are unfocused. Business decisions in India are made not only on the basis of hard facts and data, but on personal feelings and intuition about people. Bargaining is common, and concessions expected.

Meetings are generally quite relaxed, but it is important to observe protocol regarding hierarchy, and address the most senior person first. It is quite common for meetings to be interrupted by callers, or to go off track, as Indians often deal with several tasks at a time.

Communications are courteous, and language is often indirect in order to avoid direct refusals which could cause embarrassment or disappointment. You will gain respect if you demonstrate self-restraint and patience, even though negotiations and decision-making are often very slow in India due to the complex bureaucracy and the likely need to consult senior members of the organizational hierarchy. Once agreements are made, they should always be honoured.

It is normal practice to give inexpensive gifts to business counterparts in India, such as a souvenir from your country, which should be wrapped in red, yellow, green or blue wrapping paper for luck. Gifts are usually opened later in private. If you are invited to an Indian home, take a gift such as flowers or chocolates, but check whether there are any local superstitions about specific types or colours of flowers.

You should respect the religious beliefs and practices of your Indian contacts. Many Indians are Hindus and do not eat beef; some are vegetarian. Note that the use of leather items such as belts and handbags may be regarded as offensive to Hindus. Some Indians are Muslim, and do not eat pork or drink alcohol.


Read more about this country



Expat Health Insurance Partners


Aetna

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.

Cigna

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.