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India: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in India

English is widely used in commercial circles, so there is little need for translation services. Indian businesspeople welcome visitors and are generally very hospitable. The common spoken greeting ‘namaste’, is normally accompanied by placing both hands together, as if in prayer, and tilting the head forward. Indian women may prefer not to shake hands, although men are comfortable with it. Unless invited to address a person by their first name, use Mr/Mrs/Dr and the surname. Business cards are an important part of networking. A suit is considered the proper form of business attire. Business hours are generally 0930-1730.

Corporate entertaining is important but bear in mind the cultural etiquette. Indians only eat with the right hand. The left hand is used for less savoury actions, such as removing shoes. Gifts and business cards should be accepted with the right hand or both hands at the same time, as a sign of respect.

If you're invited to an Indian home for dinner, you may not eat until after 2300. However, once dinner is over, the party is at an end, the guest may depart without giving offence. Shoes should be removed when entering a private home and try to avoid pointing your feet at anyone. It is customary to wash one's hands before and after a meal.

Drinking, especially at lunchtime, should be avoided until visitors are certain of the host's opinion. Even then, alcohol should always be consumed in moderation.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0930-1730, Sat 0930-1300.

Economy

Roughly 58% of the population is involved in agriculture, both subsistence (mainly cereals) and cash crops, including rice, tea, rubber, coffee and cotton.

India's main industrial development has been in engineering, iron and steel, chemicals, electronics and textiles. Since the 1990s, trade has been liberalised, the sprawling public sector cut back, and some state-owned industries sold off.

India ranks among the top ten in the world by gross national product. The economy has resumed its healthy growth rate, currently at around 7.1% per annum, while inflation is at 3%. The unemployment rate hovers around 9%. Further improvements to the national infrastructure and basic services are now seen as the priority for central and regional governments.

GDP

US$2.264 trillion (2016).

Main exports

Textiles, gems and jewellery, technology services, chemicals and leather manufactured goods.

Main imports

Crude oil, machinery, gems, iron, steel, fertiliser and chemicals.

Main trading partners

USA, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, China, UK, Germany and Singapore.

Keeping in Touch in India

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is limited to major towns but is increasing all the time.

Internet

The internet can be reliably accessed from an increasing number of hotels and from internet cafés across the country, many now with Wi-Fi.

Media

The state's TV monopoly was broken in 1992, resulting in a boom of private channels. News and entertainment shows are especially popular and a number of 24-hour news channels operate in India. India’s cable TV market is one of the world’s largest. Public TV is run by Doordarshan, while STAR Plus, owned by News Corporation, is one of the most popular private channels. Private radio stations were sanctioned in 2000, but only public All India Radio is allowed to broadcast news. Newspaper circulation has risen, thanks to a growing middle class, as has the number of Internet users to over 100 million. Many newspapers are in English; the most important include The Economic Times, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Punjab Kesari, Deccan Herald, The Statesman, The Pioneer and The Times of India.

Post

Mail services are generally good, but delivery times are variable. Airmail service to Western Europe or the US takes up to two weeks.

Post Office hours

Regional variations, but generally Mon-Sat 1000-1300 and 1330-1630 in bigger towns and cities.

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