Etiquette in India

With a  population of over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world.

Hindi and English are the official languages, however there are more than 14 major and 300 minor languages spoken throughout the country. English is widely used, especially in business, politics, and education.

India is a Federal parliamentary constitutional republic, led by a president and prime minister and 3 branches of government.

Religion plays a major role in the daily lives of most Indians. India is the birthplace of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism, and is also home to the world’s largest Muslim population. There is also a system of castes, although officially outlawed as a form of discrimination, still plays a major role in the political and business worlds. Traditionally there are 4 castes, but each is broken down into thousands of subcastes.

The local currency is the Indian rupee (sign: ₹).

Business Negotiation Etiquette

When making business connections, go directly to the top of the company and be prepared to invest in establishing a close personal relationship. Business is personal in India and conducted at a much more leisurely pace than in the United States. Do not underestimate the importance of tea and small talk.

The word ‘no’ is considered to be very harsh. It is more common and polite to give evasive refusals. Instead of directly refusing a request, saying “I’ll try” is a more acceptable noncommittal response.

Business is not conducted on religious holidays, of which there are many. Many of these holidays change dates from year to year, so consult with your local Embassy or Consulate before planning a trip.

Always present your business card. English is widely spoken, so it is not necessary to translate your card into Hindi or another Indian language.

Enter into your negotiations with sound legal and tax advice, however, remain flexible and make an effort not to appear too legalistic during your discussions.