India is a country that is large in potential, large in people whose rich and diverse culture and traditions spring deep from ancient history and run deeper within the veins of modern Indian society and business.

Here are four general insights, gathered from web resources, to help one understand and appreciate the people who make India the leader of the global outsourcing industry today.

I.    On Time.

Despite advances in information technology and global communication is making our planet smaller and removing borders, the world is still divided into time zones. With that, as people born and live in different geographical regions, they can also perceive and experience time differently.
In India, time is considered with flexibility.  Meetings can generally not start on time and not end on time.

Please remember that India is the country whose civilizations stems from and still depends on agriculture, where Hinduism flourishes and where Buddhism is born. These influence the concept of time as a cosmic cycle without end, not a non-renewable resource where one has to tally the seconds and minutes passed as gone forever.

In other words, Indians do not count time; they revere it as a guidepost to better living. Time marks fortunate events to be celebrated and Time marks inauspicious dates to be avoided for the regular Indian.

So one should anticipate and accept employees asking for vacation leave during dates related to local religious festivals, family events; like births, weddings, and housewarmings. These would usually stretch for days but these are important.

Recognizing how Indians value time can direct one to achieve measures to influence their performance for better results.

II.    On Order.

Caste system still prevails in Indian society even in these modern times. Most Indian businesses have an order of hierarchy and many Indians find it hard to work in a non-hierarchal structure.

The boss is definitely “the boss” in India and must perform accordingly. Major decisions are still reliant on top level management’s discretion and usually nothing gets done unless with clear consent from the boss.

During meetings, only the senior most people might speak while others may maintain silence, without interruption or contradiction unless invited or instructed, out of respect for seniority.

It has been observed that this strict adherence to business hierarchy found especially in major business; which are primarily owned, operated and managed by families and their scions, are an obstacle to India’s quest for innovation.

It has been suggested to give the lower ranks more opportunity, more authority to share ideas and act on them but it will take time for the trend to get going.

III.    On Relationships.

Similar to the Chinese, Indians value the formation and maintenance of long-term relationships. Most Indians are born and raised through strong bonds in their large families which even extend even to their communities as well as regions.

This has been termed as a “herd mentality” in another article. If one is to ask a group of Indians to raise pertinent questions during a meeting, you’ll find that all the queries are posed once the meeting has ended, by a small crowd that draws support from each of its members, and when the speaker is alone.

Personal relationships, like that of family ties, often take precedence over other matters like profession for most Indians. Most Indians still reside with or close to their immediate families, on both paternal and maternal lines, with close connections to even distant cousins. Employers must be compassionate when their employees are deeply obligated to attend to a family crisis.

IV.    On Individuals.

Considering how Indians value time, order and long-term relationships, one can understand that aggressiveness is an abhorred trait while humility and politeness are what usually earns respect and loyalty.

One cannot expect to immediately to have rapport with Indians just simply because there is a binding contract or there are shared mutual goals in business. One must share the same personal values that lies outside of business and work and that doesn’t even guarantee rapport as well, it also takes time and trials to test.

Hierarchal structures and herd mentality do not foster individuality for the common Indian worker, usually that is earned through time and experience. One must be patient and personally take care of matters much like as the rice farmer plants seeds, waters and watches the crops’ growth in order to arrive to a bountiful harvest.

Knowledge can lead to understanding. Understanding their virtues and values can lead to Confluence with yours. With confluence, the paths to success become clearer, smoother and deeper.

Outsourcing Solutions, Inc. – your outsourcing partner!


  1. “India.” 26 October 2001. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 June 2008. Link here
  2. “Bandh.” 12 October 2004. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 8 September 2008. Link here
  3. “Doing Business in India.” World Business Culture. Accessed 8 September 2008. Link here
  4. “Outsourcing to India: Free Guide for USA Companies Planning to Do Business in India.” Madaan & Company. Accessed 8 September 2008.  Link here
  5. “Doing Business in India: 20 Cultural Norms You Need to Know.” 6 March 2007. Business Intelligence Lowdown. Accessed 8 September 2008. Link here
  6. “Doing Business in India: A Cultural Perspective.” Stylus Inc. Accessed 8 September 2008. Link here
  7. Heath, Nick. “Indian BPO staff turnover skyrockets.” 8 September 2008. ZDNet Asia. Accessed 8 September 2008. Link here


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