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Doing Business in India (with description)

Flag of India
Making Contacts: In India, making contact is fairly straight forward. One can write directly to a business though having referrals. An introduction are important as it gives you more credibility. small or unknown company may require more time to establish yourself.
Follow-up: A telephone call as a follow up is appropriate. The response you get may be a bit noncommittal if they don’t know you. Therefore, a visit in person would be proper. It is important for you to use an introduction but one should be careful about not making the Indian feel pressured.
Introductions: Always present a business card when introducing yourself.

Refer to business contacts by their surname, rather than by their given name. In an Indian organisation, established hierarchies are to be respected. Indian employees address their superiors formally and, unless told otherwise, it is advisable to do the same. Men should be referred to as "Mr" and women as "Mrs" or "Miss," depending on their marital status.

Indians are very status conscious and it is proper to direct communication to the most senior person. On the other hand, your Indian counterpart will direct and match you to the person of equal status in the organisation.

Local Representative: Maintaining a local representative or agent is important in navigating your way around India. It would be an advantage (in the long term), to hire a native Indian to be your local representative. The person you use should be well referenced. The culture fosters competition rather than cooperation.
Business Practices: Regional and religious biases often interfere with negotiations. Establishing social and family relationships are important in solidifying your long term relationships. Indians believe that it is a privilege to conduct business with foreigners.

Indians use detailed written contracts. Verbal agreements are not considered binding, unless supported by a written agreement. Most Indians view legal contracts as a beginning of a business relationship. Lawyers are generally mistrusted and are not always used. In your negotiations try to receive payment up front or at the closing of the transaction whenever possible; otherwise, beware.

The significance of a business arrangement is often determined by the amount of time spent during negotiations. Be prepared for a lengthy negotiating process and do not become frustrated by delays.

It is inadvisable to expect punctuality in India. Therefore, it is advisable not to schedule too many appointments in one day. Always be prepared for lengthy delays when dealing with the government.

When negotiating with Indian people, never adopt a didactic position, as this will inspire resentment. Always maintain a low profile and avoid criticising Indian institutions. Most Indian business people are knowledgeable about western business practices and dislike foreigners telling them what to do.

Ethical Issues: In India foreigners using baksheeh (speed money) to bribe bureaucrats at various levels. This is prevalent but illegal. Your company should develop a policy for dealing with graft, and understand the legal and moral consequences.
Mannerism: While in India remember your manners. Make a good first impression and demonstrate that you understand the basic characteristics about their culture. This will go a long way in helping you achieve your business goals.
Business Attire: It is advisable to wear lightweight clothing to avoid discomfort as t the climate in India can be very hot. For business meetings, men and women should wear a lightweight or tropical suit. Men should wear a jacket and tie when making official calls or attending formal occasions.
Business Hours: Government offices work a five-day week from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. Department stores are usually open until around 7pm and small privately run shops and restaurants often open till late.
Gifts: Although India is a predominantly Hindu country, India has the second-highest population of Muslims in the world. In general, Indian Muslims are more liberal than people in countries such as Saudi Arabia. However, many would still be offended by a gift of alcohol or products made from pig skin.
Impact of Religion on Business Practices: The predominant religions in India are Hinduism and Islam. Foreigners conducting business in India should ensure that they do not openly flout established religious conventions.

Hindus consider the cow to be a sacred animal and must never be offered beef products. It is important to remember that a large proportion of the Indian population is vegetarian. Always bear this in mind when conducting business over a meal.

When dealing with Muslims, avoid pork as it is not consumed by Muslims. Products made from pigskin are also considered undesirable.