India is much more than a country; it is the way of life of more than 1.4 billion people. Known as the world’s largest-running civilization, India is a land where people of different sects, castes and religion live together.
Given this great unity in diversity, one might assume that India is one of the easiest places on earth to do business. Well, my friend, you might be partly wrong as there are many important things you need to know before doing business in India.
Prepare Yourself for the Culture Shock
Stretching from Kashmir and Jammu in the north to Kanyakumari in the south and Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, there are 7 union territories and 29 different states in India. And, as you move from one state to another, you will find different languages, different kinds of cultural clothes, and different kinds of food items and so on. In terms of tradition, culture, religion, race, language, festivals and cuisine, India is a very diverse country. It is believed that “Unity in Diversity” fits appropriately alongside the rich cultural diversity in India. However, if you are traveling to India for the first time, you must prepare yourself for the culture shock.
Because of the population diversity, there is an immense variety in Indian culture. The Indian culture is usually defined as a blend of various cultures belonging to diverse religions, castes and regions. So, there is a high probability that you might be shocked by how they dress, how they speak, the type of food they eat, the manner in which they worship, and their art among many other things.
So, if you are traveling to Bharat for business, go with an open mind, an open heart and positive intentions.
Understand and Deal With the Differences
From my point of view, I can say there are many key differences between India and Western countries. It’s not a matter of which culture is the best, but it’s more about you understanding the differences, from people’s names to dress codes and religious beliefs.
You see India is the birthplace of four major religions, namely, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. It is a country where people of all religions live together in peace, but as a business person, you might encounter business partners who will try to “promote” their religious beliefs. In that case, I strongly suggest not to counter-argue. And, please refrain from defying or opposing their views about how cohabitation, divorce or sex before marriage.
We all have our own stereotypes and prejudices. But, if you want to establish a successful business in India, you need to leave all the stereotypes you have about India and Indians behind you. Don’t travel to India with your cultural baggage as this might affect your behavior and attitude towards Indians.
Driving in India Is a Nightmare
People often assume it to be a stereotype but unfortunately, it is true.
Most drivers in India do not adhere to traffic rules and regulations.
Are Indian roads dangerous to drive? Yes.
But, are Indian roads more dangerous than the roads in Western countries? Hmm, probably not.
I agree that driving in India is very difficult for a person who’s not driven there before. But, with time and with lots of patience, you’ll eventually learn how to drive in India.
Expect to Start and End Your Day Late
I’m not referring to common people, but more to businesspeople.
I think it’s a kind of trend that most businessmen in India wake late –around 10, 10:30. And, at 6 or 7 p.m., they can still be having business meetings and having evening tea.
A Week Might Actually Mean a Month
That doesn’t necessarily apply to all businessmen in India; but if an average Indian business person tells you that something will be done in one week, it might mean that it will take four times as long. So, patience would be the key here.