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I would like to travel to India on my business trip. Tell me about Business Practices in general in India !

  Plan business trips between December and March. Before leaving, check the schedule of religious holidays during the period that you plan to be in India. There are hundreds of holidays in various regions, and business is not conducted during that time. Avoid traveling in India during the Dussehra-Diwali period usually in October or November. Dates vary from year to year, so consult the tourist office, embassy, or consulate. Another time to avoid is the monsoon season Ė June, July, and August Ė because transportation becomes difficult in some part of the country.
Try to arrange an appointment with the commercial attachť of your country.
Be sure to telephone as soon as you arrive in a city to confirm all your appointments as appointments can soon be forgotten if not reminded.
Try to have a schedule flexible enough to allow for extra days in India, because people sometimes donít appear for a meeting. Note that executives prefer late-morning or early-afternoon appointments, so try schedule meetings between 11:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. (Lunch is usually taken from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M.) Donít be surprised if Indian businesspeople are somewhat vague in commitment, since they donít like to be pressed for exact times.
Be aware that Indians are impressed by punctuality but will often not be on time themselves. Try to keep your schedule loose to accommodate delays.
Bring business cards. Itís acceptable to have them printed in English.
In nearly every city, expect to find private fax and computer services available. They may be less expensive than those in your hotel, but the latter often provides better service. Keep in mind that some fax facilities charge even for an unsuccessful transmission. Be sure to ask the policy before sending a fax.
Recognize that most company executives are very westernized. They have often studied in England, dress in Western style, and follow Western behavior.
Expect to be offered sweet, milky tea, no matter what time of day your meeting occurs. If you donít want to drink very slowly or ask for something else, such as a soft drink. Never say ďNoĒ to the offer of a drink. If food, such as sweets, is pressed on you and you donít care for it, just leave it.
Be prepared to answer many personal questions. When you meet someone for business the first time, youíll be asked about yourself, your family, whether you like sports, and what your hobbies are. You are expected to ask your Indian hosts the same questions. Show special interest in your hostís children, and bring pictures of your own family. Donít begin a business discussion without these preliminaries.
Expect to be overwhelmed by hospitality. Westerners sometimes have a problem in avoiding the many invitation, but donít make an explicit commitment unless you genuinely want to accept. If someone says, ďCome to my house and meet my children,Ē respond, ďI certainly will,Ē but donít commit yourself to a time and date. Then you need not go, because thereís no obligation unless you have named a specific time. Never merely say ďNo.Ē
Realize that business will be conducted at a very slow pace, and dealings will not be concluded quickly. After they present and discuss a proposal, Indians donít conclude an agreement at once. Expect additional discussion about the contract as a whole or individual clauses in it.
Be aware that there are both male and female secretaries. Men usually work in government offices and women in private business.
Always take notes during meetings in order to have a good reference at a later time for any verbal agreements made.
Donít be surprised if people wander in and out of your meetings. For example, clerks may appear with files or letters that need attention. Keep calm and donít show any resentment about the interruptions.
Recall that Indians do not like to say ďNo,Ē and they may avoid a negative response by stalling. Be patient, but have a realistic idea of how long youíre willing to wait. If there are constant delays, you may have to accept that the Indian businesspeople arenít interested in your project.
If you are in a position where ďNoĒ would be your response, avoid using that direct negative. Saying ďIíll tryĒ is as good as a refusal.
Keep in mind that all decisions are made at the top. While middle managers do have input and are usually able to meet with you more readily, they will not be making the final decision.
A Western man doing business with an Indian woman should wait for her to offer her hand in greeting. If she greets with the Namaste greeting, he should do the same.
Note that foreign woman who represent large companies, or who have senior titles, will have the most credibility.
If your are giving a speech and are offered a flower garland (a sign of respect and affection), accept it, but remove it from your neck at once to show humility.
Business Entertaining: If you plan to entertain at a meal, note that business lunches are more popular than dinners.
Expect business to be done informally Ė e.g., during a tennis game, or during lunch or dinner. Accept any invitation, if at all possible. You will build trust by attending informal gatherings.
If you are hosting a business meal, remember that Hindus donít eat beef, and Muslims donít eat beef, and Muslims donít eat pork. Also check to see if your guests are vegetarian.
Women should not feel awkward about entertaining Indian businessmen. They will usually offer to pay for the dinner but will not prevent the woman from picking up the check.

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