When first meeting someone, it is common to be introduced to them by a third party. Indian culture places a great deal of importance on personal relationships, and many business relationships will be built upon a personal foundation. Therefore being introduced by a mutual acquaintance will stand you in good stead. As a result of British colonial influence, handshakes are the standard greeting in a business environment. Be aware, however, that in a lot of situations it is not normal for men and women to shake hands with each other due to religious influence, so keep your eyes open to try and see what is expected by the people you are meeting with.
If meeting with a group of people, be sure to greet each person individually rather than addressing them as a group. Due to the influence of hierarchical Indian social structure, the oldest or most senior person present should be greeted first, followed by the next most senior, and so on. The work day in India typically starts at 10am, though in major cities it can be considerably earlier, so if in doubt schedule meetings no earlier than mid-morning.
It is considered good manners in India to be slightly late, so make sure you factor this into your schedule. However, you should also be aware that Indian business people who are used to dealing with westerners may expect you to be punctual.
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It is common to exchange business cards on first meetings, and small gifts such as sweets would also be well received. Avoid touching, other than the initial handshake, as this is considered rude.
Normal business dress for both men and women is western in derivation, and it is common to see suits and ties on men, and pant-suits or long skirts on women. If you are not used to the heat of a tropical country, make sure you try to dress smartly yet in a way that you will be comfortable.
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When talking to Indian people, make sure to be aware of your body language, as much significance will be attached to it. Be aware that sustained eye contact is not necessarily usual, especially when speaking to someone of a lower or higher status. When negotiating agreements, expect there to be many rounds of back and forth. In India business decisions are rarely made quickly or lightly, so it is important not to get frustrated by any delays you experience.
Titles are important in India, and as such people should be addressed formally, i. This section will be particularly helpful if you are relocating to India and intend to work.
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There are a number of factors to have in mind when managing Indian employees. The Indian approach to business roles is generally formal and hierarchical. Therefore a boss is expected to be a boss, and to act as such. Avoid doing tasks that would normally be completed by someone at a lower level than you, as this is likely to damage your reputation and your credibility. Decision-making in Indian companies tends to be top-down, and therefore junior staff will expect to be given clear and comprehensive instructions rather than coming up with their own ways of working.
If you are in middle-management, then avoid making decisions or devising strategies unless you have already been given the green light by top management, otherwise you may not receive it. Most expats moving to India will be on assignment with international companies, however increasingly Indian companies are also starting to look globally when bringing in new talent.
In either case, it would be much better to secure a posting before relocating. You should keep in mind that India is still in many ways a developing country, and as such many things that people living in Europe and America take for granted, such as clean running water and a reliable electricity supply, are not always in place.
Expect frequent power outages, and if you are using computer equipment we would recommend that you invest in surge protection and UPS. Kwintessential are on hand to help with any Hindi translation needs you may have.
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But it goes so much deeper. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice of self-realization that originated in India, but, in addition to Indian devotional practices such as sacred dance, it was perceived as threatening, ridiculed, and banned among its own people in its own land under British colonization, beginning in the s and lasting until the mids.
Today, yoga is often marketed by affluent Westerners to affluent Westerners—and Indians, ironically, are marginally represented, if at all.
Cultural appropriation is the taking, marketing, and exotification of cultural practices from historically oppressed populations. The opposite extreme is the glamorization of yoga and India through commercialism, such as Om tattoos, T-shirts sporting Hindu deities or Sanskrit scriptures that are often conflated with yoga, or the choosing of Indian names. According to Rumya S. I just know when I start to feel sick or hurt—like at a conference table when an administrator suggests that Eastern elements, such as bells used to train the mind to focus on the present dhyana , will threaten the comfort of white American practitioners.
Or when the young CEO of a new yoga organization asks me where she can get her hour yoga certification done the fastest, missing that yoga is a lifelong process of balanced living. Or when I see social media celebrities and yoga advertisements promoting athletic, model-like bodies in sexy apparel, potentially encouraging more attachment to items and creating insecurities rather than relieving people of suffering. Ask these questions to deeper your understanding around cultural appropriation. His sentiments make me realize that many Western yoga companies and consumers are unaware of what they are branding and buying.
Educating ourselves, like the practice of yoga, can be seen as an evolutionary process. Start where you are. You may have already developed a lot of awareness that is becoming more finely tuned. And for some—Indian or not Indian, experienced yoga practitioners or not—this article is a first-time exposure to something you never realized.
Rina Deshpande is a teacher, writer, and researcher of yoga and mindfulness practices. Having grown up with Indian yoga philosophy, she rediscovered its profound value as a New York City public school teacher. For the past 15 years, she has practiced and shared the benefits of yoga across the globe. After studying yoga and mindfulness as self-regulation at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she designs curriculum for science research and K—12 education. She is the author of Jars of Space , a new book of handwritten and illustrated yogic poetry.
Learn more at rinathepoet or rinadeshpande.
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