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India Cultural Awareness & Business Communication

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1 India Cultural Awareness & Business Communication

2 Contents. 1. Demographics. 2. People and culture. 3. Indian English. 4
Contents 1. Demographics 2. People and culture 3. Indian English 4. Working with India

3 The Country Area: Regional States and administrations
3,287,590 sq km Language: Hindi is the national language and spoken by 30% of the people; there are 17 official languages + English Regional States and administrations 28 states and 7 union territories Population: billion Major cities & population Mumbai (Bombay) 18,042,000 Kolkata (Calcutta) 12,900,000 Delhi 11,680,000 Hyderabad 6,833,000 Chennai (Madras) 6,639,000 Bangalore 5,544,000 Religious Composition Hindu – 80% Muslims – 13.4% Christians – 2.33% Sikhs – 1.84% Buddhists – 0.76% Jains – 0.4 % Others – 1.27% All 6 cities are among top 40 most populous cities in the world cities in the world Located in South Asia with a coastline of over 7000 km, and constituting most of the Indian subcontinent, India straddles many trade routes. It shares its borders with Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Afghanistan1. Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia are nearby island nations in the Indian Ocean

4 India Facts… Democracy Economy Military Space India Firsts
First study of medicine - Ayurveda Sanskrit – Closest living language to “proto-Indo-European”, the great-great-grandmother of English First Martial Art form – 200 BC concept of “Zero” – Aryabhatta, 499 AD Chess – 500 AD First university – Takshila, 700 BC Democracy World’s largest 100% Electronic Voting Economy 2nd Fastest Growing 4th Largest (in terms of PPP) Military 2nd Largest Army 4th Largest Air Force Space Over 30 Satellites Launched Moon mission planned

5 People and Culture

6 National Pastimes Cricket Politics Bollywood
Came to India with the British..played in stadiums as well as street corners.. Cricket stars in India – Sachin Tendulkar....compare to Babe Ruth Politics Average Indian very aware of politics Everyone has an opinion and likes to share… Bollywood World’s largest film industry..over 1,000 films produced annually Not a typical western movie… Cricket is played everywhere in India, including on street corners, villages and other areas. Some of the greatest players came from these areas. A cricket match is like Super bowl in the US – only it’s several times a year! Life comes to a standstill when an important match is in progress, especially if it is with Pakistan. Politics – the average Indian is very aware of current events, and has a view on everything. Example – the 2004 elections where the media was dominated by the view that the incumbent would win. However, the rural vote was very strong, despite the fact that the rural population is not very educated. Bollywood – south Indian films account for a large part of the number of films made. Even though India is the largest producer of films, it is not the highest revenue generator because most of the movies are in regional languages. Having said that, sub-titled Indian films are also very popular in the middle east and parts of the world that have a significant immigrant Indian population. In fact, several movies are now made with the non-resident Indian viewer in mind – high revenues generated from overseas markets.

7 Culture Land of Diversity..changes at every State border.. Food, dress varies by region Rich heritage, especially in the arts (dance, music) Cultural differences celebrated and increasingly accepted across regions / religions Strong western influence in the cities..Bombay, Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta Food, clothing, language and arts differ by region. It’s like visiting a different area when you cross state lines. Modern culture is getting more homogenized as the middle class grows and becomes more mobile. Strong western influence in the cities. Many festivals celebrated. Examples – Diwali and Holi. These are celebrated in areas with people of Indian origin across the world. Most festivals have a religious significance.

8 Family Structure Traditional joint family structure; changing to single families Elders accorded a great deal of respect; close knit families Women making increasing strides in business, politics and the arts. Education a key driver for change Family structure is evolving, like everything else. Traditionally a male dominated society. Women’s right movements, as well as increasing education are driving development of women in every sphere. Women doing increasingly well – every year they do better than the men in the examinations. Examples – Indira Gandhi, Kiran Bedi. First female police officer, went on to become a role model for countless people, won the Magsaysay award, and is now in the UN as the police advisor

9 don’t be surprised if your whole team goes for a reception or wedding
Marriage Diverse - different between states and regions 85-90% are arranged marriages typically same caste / region / social status Marriage is considered between families Marriage in bride’s town, reception in groom’s Eldest sibling marries first. Girls before boys Community affair people considered small gathering Colleagues at work are always invited. don’t be surprised if your whole team goes for a reception or wedding

10 Holidays & Festivals Sankranti Hindu Sankranthi - around Jan 14 - South Holi - in March - North Ganesh Chathurthi in Sep - South & West Dushera - in Oct / Nov - preDushera in East Diwali - 20 days after Dushera Holi Ganesh Chaturthi Dushera Diwali Onam Most Holidays have religious background National Holidays New Year’s Day - Jan 1 Republic Day - Jan 26 Labor Day - May 1 Independence Day - Aug 15 Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday - Oct 2 Id Guru Nanak’s Birthday Muslim Idu’l Fitr - in Oct / Nov Sikh Guru Nanak’s Birthday - North Christian Good Friday Christmas Jain Mahavir Jayanti - West Mahavir Jayanti Individual significance varies by religion, region

11 Cultural pointer to consider…
Be careful of your shoes Left (bad) hand right (good) hand Staring is okay…not common in the US Getting personal..direct question such as age, salary, etc are common Generally, Indian women prefer not to shake hands..wait for indication Giving seats / preference to ladies is courteous Gestures don't always translate…head nodding does not always mean “No” Respectful mistrust..contrary to the US..given that milkman will add water Can openly discuss politics..keep religion out Many Hindus are vegetarian and many, especially women, do not drink alcohol or smoke Taxis do not expect to be tipped, however, hotel/airport porters and restaurant servers should be tipped

12 Indian English

13 Indian English or Hinglish
Indian spellings follow British conventions to the point at which American English variations are considered untenable. - colour, lessons learnt (vs. learned) Indian English took on a divergent evolution and many phrases that the British may consider antiquated are still popular in India. E.g: “Please do the needful” or “You will be intimated shortly” - official language ”Grammar of Indian English" must be taken with a grain of salt. Passive voice considered polite. Indian accents vary greatly leaning more towards “vernacular' (Indian language)-tinted speech. Words such as “Yaar” (Buddy), “Han Han” (Yes), “Achaa (OK)” are used frequently

14 Words/phrases unique to Indian English
batchmate or batch-mate Not classmate, but of a schoolmate of the same grade cousin-brother - male first cousin cousin-sister - female first cousin; one's own brother/sister (of one's parent, as opposed to uncle or aunt) co-brother – wife's sister's husband would-be - fiancé/fiancée prepone - the opposite of 'postpone' upgradation - commonly used in business communication instead of 'upgrade' crore - ten million lakh - one hundred thousand damn used to mean "very". "damn good" means "very good". terrific may be used to mean "awesome" Cricket is played everywhere in India, including on street corners, villages and other areas. Some of the greatest players came from these areas. A cricket match is like Super bowl in the US – only it’s several times a year! Life comes to a standstill when an important match is in progress, especially if it is with Pakistan. Politics – the average Indian is very aware of current events, and has a view on everything. Example – the 2004 elections where the media was dominated by the view that the incumbent would win. However, the rural vote was very strong, despite the fact that the rural population is not very educated. Bollywood – south Indian films account for a large part of the number of films made. Even though India is the largest producer of films, it is not the highest revenue generator because most of the movies are in regional languages. Having said that, sub-titled Indian films are also very popular in the middle east and parts of the world that have a significant immigrant Indian population. In fact, several movies are now made with the non-resident Indian viewer in mind – high revenues generated from overseas markets.

15 Idioms “Your good name please?": "What is your name?", carryover from Hindi expression (“aapka shubh naam?”). "Hello, What do you want?": used by some when answering a phone call, meant to be polite. "pindrop silence" literally means that such a silence should be maintained that even a pindrop can be heard. "back" replacing "ago" when talking about elapsed time, as in "I met him five years back" rather than "I met him five years ago." "freak out" is meant to have fun, as in "lets go to the party and freak out." The word "dress" is used to refer to clothes for men, women, and children alike: "She bought a new dress for her son." "I will give you a Missed Call" – I will call you (on mobile) and hang-up. You get the message… Cricket is played everywhere in India, including on street corners, villages and other areas. Some of the greatest players came from these areas. A cricket match is like Super bowl in the US – only it’s several times a year! Life comes to a standstill when an important match is in progress, especially if it is with Pakistan. Politics – the average Indian is very aware of current events, and has a view on everything. Example – the 2004 elections where the media was dominated by the view that the incumbent would win. However, the rural vote was very strong, despite the fact that the rural population is not very educated. Bollywood – south Indian films account for a large part of the number of films made. Even though India is the largest producer of films, it is not the highest revenue generator because most of the movies are in regional languages. Having said that, sub-titled Indian films are also very popular in the middle east and parts of the world that have a significant immigrant Indian population. In fact, several movies are now made with the non-resident Indian viewer in mind – high revenues generated from overseas markets.

16 Working with India

17 What To Expect When In India
Greeting Use formal greeting, unless told otherwise Attire Generally formal for business; dress conservatively Language English is all you need to know! Food International cuisine available in most cities. Many Indians are vegetarian don’t eat beef / pork and don’t drink alcohol. Weather Varies greatly by region; check before you leave People Highly personal, warm culture … BUT, be wary of swindlers. Request hotel staff / people you know for help in getting around, sightseeing, shopping etc.

18 Business Tips And … leave enough time to enjoy the Indian experience!!
Traditional Indian organizations can be very hierarchical … limited number of people who make decisions Subsidiaries of foreign companies adapt to the parent company’s culture … very modern in outlook and operating style. Dealing with Government officials – can be a bureaucratic and slow process; plan accordingly Negotiations … Indians aren’t direct about saying ‘no’; reluctance on an issue could be an indirect way of saying no Meetings could start or end with personal questions (family, children etc) … considered a sign of building relationships Wide variation in business cultures, just like anything else in India. The traditional businesses are very hierarchical, and only a few people have decision making powers. It is not unusual in these businesses for people to stand up when a superior enters the room. If unsure, just stand up with them to greet the individual. Subsidiaries of foreign businesses typically adapt to the parent company’s culture … GE, Motorola, Amex etc Punctuality … not a strong Indian trait in social settings And … leave enough time to enjoy the Indian experience!!

19 When you have new visitors from India
AVOID - dinner plans on first day of arrival – offer them shopping instead - restaurants with limited vegetarian choices. OFFER HELP one-on-one interaction invite them to any activities, places outside of work working lunch, ensure meal choices advice them on selections of phone company, internet choice, car etc. introduce them to APAF members

20 Communication tips AVOID - understating negatives
- overstating positives – “Awesome!” - speaker phones when possible - jokes, especially in phone meetings MAXIMIZE one-on-one phone interaction, even for short durations the “buddy” system global team building – Games (Chess, quizzes), “Your Perfect Day” customer interaction with remote teams

21 Recognize Mannerisms . . . Head nodding generally means I’m listening
Tend to speak fast – words rolling into one another Smiling a lot for no reason in a conversation – generally means I appreciate what you are saying May come across with humility / subservience. . . Particularly if supervisor present

22 Some suggestions Only invite if participants have a value add
Build a relationship – “who you know” is important Be aware of and manage tendency to over promise Recognize the time differences and the lifestyle differences. With visitors be mindful of diet restrictions (vegetarian) Call on quieter participants to speak up. Avoid calls after 7 pm local time or on Friday evenings Use the dual time zone feature within outlook calendar Stress urgency and ensure it is understood Be inclusive (ensure India feels part of team) Set clear expectations with metrics

23 Do’s and Don’ts: Behavior: Don’t open gifts in presence of the giver.
Don’t directly refuse an invitation, a vague "I’ll try" is an acceptable refusal. Do remove shoes at the door when visiting a home. Don’t point your feet at a person. Feet are considered unclean. Normal to apologize if your shoes or feet touch another person. Standing with your hands on your hips may be interpreted as an aggressive posture.

24 Do’s and Don’ts: Whistling is impolite and winking may be interpreted as either an insult or a sexual proposition. Communication: Be formal outside GE (e.g. visiting customers) use Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. Don’t talk about poverty, human rights, or religious conflict. Try not to use commanding / direct language. Do be curious. Do try to establish a personal connection.

25 Thank You


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