India is the world's third largest economy, following the United States and China. The country has been rapidly growing as an economic power in recent years, making it a desirable location for new businesses from Australia and around the world. Almost two-thirds of the country's population is under the age of 35, making consumer products highly popular in the region. Businesses the world over are scrambling to get their piece of this massive consumer market. There are also a lot of openings in the areas of infrastructure and skilled trades.
Although corruption is common, it is still possible to conduct business in India without resorting to bribes and kickbacks. This is a major concern for foreign businesses operating in India and can be very frustrating to foreigners at times, particularly those from western countries, like Australia.
Indians are very focused on relationship building when it comes to business. It discourages them when westerners do not make an effort to get to know the Indian people and their culture. Most Indians are very polite and courteous, so they will not let you know that they are dissatisfied. However, you will likely see your business deals fall apart fairly quickly. Be curious, ask questions and work to adapt your business to the Indian environment to have the most success.
Punctuality is not a major concern in India, both in business and personal settings. Do not expect meetings to start or finish on time. Relax and just go along with the more fluid pace of doing things. Expect to exchange business cards at meetings, and avoid addressing your business partners by their first names. Indians tend to remain formal in business settings.
India has embraced global business practices, conducting much of their written and verbal communication in English. However, due to the diverse makeup of the country's population and the wide range of religions practiced, most businesses do not schedule meetings around major holidays. You'll need to work your schedule around a variety of religious and cultural holidays.
Typical business hours in India are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, although some businesses choose to operate on Saturdays as well. Public holidays vary from state to state, so it is important to plan your schedule accordingly. India's time zone is four and a half hours behind Australia's eastern time zone.
India's currency is the rupee. Notes are most commonly used, although the currency includes coins as well for smaller denominations.
India has a tropical monsoon climate divided into four distinct seasons. Temperatures are typically hotter in the south and more temperate in the north. Summers, May to July, are very hot and dry, with temperatures often reaching over 40 degrees. Summers also tend to be more windy than the other seasons. Most of the country's rain occurs between July and September. October, November, February and March offer the most pleasant weather, with cool nights and warm, sunny days.
India's electricity is 220 volts, 50Hz, and round two-pin plugs are the most prevalent.
All foreigners visiting India must obtain a visa from their local Indian High Commission or consulate. If you will be travelling in India for more than six months, you must also register with the Foreigner Regional Registration Office. In some cases, those visiting for less than six months will also have to register, so be sure to check the designation on your visa.
In addition to the visa, all travellers must also have a valid passport. For casual business visits, Australians may be eligible to apply for an e-Tourist visa, which makes the visa application process a bit simpler and more streamlined.
Certain areas of India, particularly in the northeast, require permits to visit. Permit applications can often take several months to process, so be sure to allow plenty of time if you will be travelling to a region that requires special permission.
India boasts more than 20 international airports and hundreds of domestic airports, making air travel easy throughout the region. Trains run throughout the country, but they tend to be on the slow side. Domestic air travel is usually the faster option.
While public transportation is available, it is typically overcrowded and not recommended for tourists. Taxis are a far better option, and the fares are relatively low compared to those in Australia. Taxis can be hired on the street, although it is better to arrange a car from your hotel. Some taxis charge metre rates, while others allow haggling over the price. Make sure to agree on the price before accepting a taxi ride.
Traffic can get very congested, particularly in the mornings and evenings, so allow for extra travel time during these peak hours.
Even though a 10 percent service charge is typically added to hotel and restaurant bills, it is still customary to tip an additional 10 percent. Taxis add a surcharge as well, and tipping is not expected in this area.
India offers a broad range of hotels, from five-star luxury to more budget-friendly options. Many hotels offer discounts to business travellers, particularly those from large corporations.
The cuisine varies widely throughout India, with each region offering its own local flair. Most restaurants are of a high quality and are relatively inexpensive. When dining out, it is best to stick with bottled water as opposed to tap.
India is such a large country with diverse attractions in every region. Aside from staples like the majestic Taj Mahal, it would be virtually impossible to list the many drawing points of each area. India is filled with cultural and religious sites that you should take the time to visit, truly immersing yourself in the local culture. The lifestyle in India is so different from what we are accustomed to in Australia, so even just walking down the street, taking in the sights, sounds and smells, can be a uniquely memorable experience that takes you out of your comfort zone and into the unknown.