Business and Marketing / Business Essay


Indian Business Culture

India is a massive country. After China, it is the most populous country in the world, which means it is also the second-most-populous nation in the world, with a population of over 1.3 billion people (UN estimate, 2018). Aside from the fact that the country is populous, it is also really large. It has a landmass of about 3,287,263 km2 and is also ranked as the seventh-largest country in the world.

One thing India is known for, especially in Asia, is its international power. Despite its high poverty rates, the country still asserts significant influence on other countries in Asia, and beyond as a matter of fact (Palmer, 1963). This is because the country is a former colony of the British Empire. Besides, it is also a rapidly growing economy, making it very much easy for businesses to flourish and expand fast. As predicted by International Monetary Fund (IMF) in World Economic Outlook (2019), India's economy is really growing at a reasonable rate, and may probably overtake that of the UK in the next few years. India's economy is also set to become the world's 7th largest economy in the world in a couple of years if things go right.

These things mentioned above, and many more make India one of the best places in the world to do business. You don't even have to engage in local rivalries as it is common in the US.

However, when doing business in India, you must be careful not to get it all wrong. India is a really diverse country with different languages, affiliations, religions, and cultures. You would want to know these things so as not to make hasty generalizations that can cost you a lucrative business deal. You must understand and get yourself accustomed to business culture in India and that's what this article aims to help you with. All you need to know about India's business culture is enclosed in this article. However, as with every etiquette guide in the business world, this is only a broad generalization based on the life of the Indian people. Every individual is a different person with unique opinions and beliefs. So, you might find different unique features in your prospective business partners. Just know and adjust to them appropriately.

Customs and Culture

One thing you must know is, like many people in the world, the Indians also take their culture seriously (Mohammad, 2007). You might find it hard to understand most of them because of your differences, however, you must try to get accustomed to them if you really want to have a successful business in the populous country.

First, you might want to get yourself accustomed to their greeting styles quickly.

In a normal business setting, it is okay to shake hands, both men and women, old and young. Hugs and pecks are allowed as well. However, in India, this might not be the case, especially if your partner is a very cultured person. The "Namaste" can be used; where you point your palms joined together and then make a slight bow.

Although many of the men shake hands, some women are not however allowed to do so. So, in that situation, a Namaste would suffice.

You must also know that India is a hierarchical society where the old are expected to be honored and given more respect. So, when greeting your prospective business partners, start from the oldest one down to the youngest so as not to lose them.

It also wrong to do things with your left hand. The left hand is considered by many Indians and should be used in shaking hands and doing a lot of other things. So when eating with your partners, shaking or handing them documents, use your right hand.

Indians are very conservative people. So when meeting your business partners, be sure to dress conservatively. As a man, you can wear a suit with a matching tie. A woman should also wear a business dress; skirts or gowns that go beyond the knee level. Women are not allowed to wear short clothes that do not cover their knee, shoulders and other body parts.

Naturally, Indians communicate simultaneously with body language, commonly with the nod of their heads. So you should get accustomed to their body language. They are not usually as expressive and would rather not speak openly when they are with strangers. Getting to know how they communicate non-verbally will help you in getting deals done smoothly and quickly in the country.


Indians are also a very religious people with diverse beliefs and philosophy (Chopra, 2015). There are different religions in India with at least 9 common ones. In all, approximately 80% of Indians are practicing Hinduism. The others are either Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or Sikhs. Other popular religions include Jainism, Zoroastrianism, and Sanamahism.

So, before going on your first or next business meeting with your Indian partners, get to know their religion and the beliefs and philosophies they hold. Asides from the fact that it makes you understand them more, it also gets you to secure more deals.

Business Culture

Indians can be quite adamant and you would need more data or facts to convince them. So prepare to wow them. Unpreparedness can piss them off. So prepare beforehand before going to your meetings.

Time is more fluid and unstable in India than it is in the US, so be prepared for your partners to come late. However, don't assume that this is general. Many of them actually consider punctuality as a bad act. So always go on time to your meetings whether your partner comes at the right time or not.

You might want to create close and personal relationships with your partners. In the Indian business world, relationships are taken quite seriously. Before starting a business officially, you might want to discuss cricket, the sports of Indians, music or some other topic of interest with your partner. This will help you a lot.

Other things you should also incorporate;

● Do not point fingers at Indians. It is considered rude.

● Although India is multilingual, the dominant languages are Hindu and English. However, you might want to consider using an interpreter as using the particular language of your partners to connect with them on a more personal level.

● Do not touch their heads. It is highly disrespectful. It is better to avoid touching your partners in any way, for whatever reason. Keep a reasonable distance while conversing with them.

● Also, be wary do the way your legs are crossed. Whether you wearing shoes or not, make sure your toes are not shooting upwards. Keep your feet flat on the ground. If you'd have to walk around more often, do not step or step over people and itemsIndian Business Culture, rather walk around them.

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