India and Its Business Culture

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India and its Business Culture

In today’s world, globalisation plays a more and more important role. The idea of the “global village” is becoming reality and business is done not only regional but over the whole world. A European enterprise for example nowadays usually does not only have business partnerships in Europe but also in America or Asia, depending on the branch of their business. In this world of doing business with any kinds of nations and cultures knowledge about the culture and business habits is a “must-have”. In my essay, I would like to introduce India as a country with a culture which is thousands of years old and also the most important facts about Indian business behaviour in general, in meetings and in negotiations.

Before starting with the business culture it is essential to know some general facts about India, its culture and its economy.
First of all, India is one of the oldest cultures in the world. Its cultural heritage which dates back at least 5,000 years is still influencing the life and habits of Indian people. This is why the understanding of the cultural traditions is essential for a successful business partnership. Geographically, India is surrounded by the Indian Ocean in the south, east and west, while its geographical northern border would be the Himalayan Mountains.

As the ancient streams of the Indian culture influence today’s habits a lot, knowledge about the key concepts and values is essential. There are three mains concepts which are Hinduism and the traditional caste system, Fatalism and Collectivism. Unlike in Western cultures religion in India is still a way of life and thus must be respected in business relationships. Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion in the world (founded approximately 1,500 BC) and is the main religion of Indian people. The four main pursuits of life for a Hindu are in the early stages pleasure and material wealth, later also to be righteous. But these goals all are inferior to the ultimate one: the escape of the cycle of births and deaths. The Hindus believe in rebirth and thus the ultimate goal is the spiritual liberation. The traditional caste system is tightly connected to Hinduism. It divides the people in five classes and is strictly hierarchical. The change to a higher class is considered to be hardly possible. Although the caste system has officially been abolished it still plays an important role in Indian culture, particularly in rural areas. Fatalism is another very important stream in Indian culture. It says that every event happens for a reason and that the future is already “said in stone”. In India, fatalism is related to the Karma and is even important in decision making. Last but not least, Collectivism is also a factor in Indian culture. India has a strong sense of community and thus a greater acceptance of hierarchical structures. This also goes along with a lack of privacy and a smaller concept of personal space.

The reasons for the importance of India as a “business country” are various. Firstly, it is the country with the second largest population in the world (1,103,371,000 in 2005) . Secondly, its economy is growing at a very fast pace, the objectives for the growth in the GDP are at 6.3 percent and are the prospects indicate that the growth could even be higher. Thirdly, the Indian workforce is still very cheap (35 percent of the workforce earn less than one US-Dollar per day) and thus is a big incentive for international companies to invest in India. The immense importance of India as a country to invest in could be seen in the following number: one fourth of the 500 biggest countries in the world invest in India and even more are still expected to join them.

With these facts in mind, it is not unlikely that one might have Indian business partners in the nearer future and would take a business travel to India. In this case it is crucial to know the Indian business etiquette.

India has six...
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