Doing Business in India

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Indian states are demarcated on a linguistic basis, and there are 28 states in all. Apart from these languages there are innumerable dialects specific to each ethnic group. Different states in India each have different official languages. Central government only recognises Hindi as the official language of India. However, when doing business in India, English is the language of international commerce.

Many Indians bob their heads up and down when affirming something and from side-to-side when conveying a 'No'. Then, again, silence can express a 'Yes' or a 'No'. In addition to listening to what is being said (and sometimes to what's not being overtly expressed), body language requires keen observation too. If terms such as "We'll see", "I will try" or "possibly" are employed then the chances are that they are saying 'no'.

Women prefer to be greeted from a distance with a simple "Namaste". But, in urban cities, handshakes between both sexes are quite common. Any other demonstration of public affection is usually frowned upon.

Hierarchy

Of all the cultural influences that most impact Indian business culture, hierarchy plays a key role. With its roots in Hinduism and the caste system, Indian society operates within a framework of strict hierarchy that defines people's roles, status and social order.

For example, within companies manual labour will only be carried out by the "peon" (roughly equivalent to a 'runner'). It is not uncommon for the moving of a desk to take hours. This is because no-one in the office will carry out the task but the "peon", who, if otherwise engaged can not do so.

Doing Business - Meeting and Greeting

When doing business in India, meeting etiquette requires a handshake. However, Indians themselves use the namaste. This is where the palms are brought together at chest level with a slight bow of the head. Using the namaste is a sign of your understanding of Indian etiquette.

When doing business in India, business...
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