Posted by: Melissa C | April 8, 2010

Cultural Awareness – India

CLICK HERE to access a PDF file of this presentation!



  • Capital – New Dehli
  • Language – Hindi (41%)
    • 14 other official languages
    • English has associate status; political/commercial communication
  • Population – 1,156,897,766
    • 2nd in world
  • Religion – Hindu (80.5%)
    • Muslim, Christian, Sikh
  • Area – 1,269,219 square miles
    • 7th in world
  • Independence – August 15, 1947
    • From United Kingdom

Business in India

  • Bargaining and negotiating is continual lifestyle
    • Multiple contract negotiations
  • May request impromptu meetings at late hours
  • Bow or nod with palms together, under chin, near heart
    • Used with “Namaste”
    • Peaceful greeting
    • Good alternative to handshake; appropriate for large meetings/individuals
  • No business conducted during religious holidays
    • Numerous holidays, dates change year to year
  • Less hurried attitude than North Americans
    • Do not understand concept of “time is money”
  • The word “no” has harsh implications
    • Use evasive refusals: be vague, avoid commitment, use “I’ll try”
  • Titles are highly valued
    • Always use professional titles
    • Do not use first name unless invited
  • Caste system plays a significant role in business/politics
    • Origin of system are still unclear
    • Government has outlawed discrimination but it still exists

Some Useful Facts…

  • Religion plays major role in most people’s daily lives
    • Hinduism and Buddhism were born in India
  • Many Hindus venerate cows
    • Do not wear leather, eat beef
  • Customary to refuse first and second offer of a refreshment
    • Accept on second or third offer
    • Completely refusing is an insult
  • Do not thank your host at the end of a meal
    • Thanks are considered a form of payment (insulting)
    • Instead invite them to dinner
  • Giving money to a beggar will result in being surrounded by dozens
    • Suggested to avoid even making eye contact
  • Consider head to be the seat of the soul
    • Never touch someone’s head, i.e. do not pat a child on the head
  • Whistling is considered impolite
    • In any and all circumstances
  • Do not point your feet at a person
    • Feet considered unclean
    • Apologize if your shoes/feet touch another person

Implications in our Fields

  • Tourism and Hospitality
    • Heritage sites
      • Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, Temple of Khajuraho
    • Nature tourism
      • Waterfalls, beaches, wildlife reserves, Himalayan mountains
      • Farm and rural tourism
    • Goa Carnival
      • 3 day celebration ending on Fat Tuesday
      • Former Portuguese colony maintaining Carnival tradition
      • Not celebrated anywhere else in India
    • Adventure tourism
      • Mountain climbing, river rafting/kayaking, skiing, paragliding
    • Service trips
      • Community and Social Services
  • Sport and Recreation
    • Field hockey
      • National sport
    • Cricket
      • Most popular sport in India
      • Ranked #1 in world
    • Badminton
      • Said to have originated in India more than 2000 years ago
    • Kabaddi
      • Team contact/wrestling sport that originated in India
      • One of most popular sports in villages
    • Golf
      • Emerging sport among wealthier population

Effect of Slumdog Millionaire

  • Increase of tour participants by 25%
  • Little objection from dwellers
    • Only to having their pictures taken
    • Tour company operates community center in slum
  • Mixed feelings from outsiders
    • “Crime against poverty”
    • Life-changing experience for visitors
  • Similar to tours of Brazilian favelas



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: