Official Name: Republic of India

Geography: World’s 7th largest country: slightly more than one-third the size of the U.S.Picture of India Flag

Population: 1,189,172,906 (July 2011 est.) *country comparison to the world: 2

Language: Hindi, English, and 16 other official languages

Religion: Hindu: 80 percent, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and other

Capital City: New Delhi

Climate: Alpine to temperate to subtropical monsoon.

Currency: Rupee* 1 Indian rupee = 0.0222 U.S. dollars (March 2011)

Differences in Indian Education

  • Students in a class are considered as a batch, and they would have the same classmates for the entire program duration.
  • Students must follow a preset curriculum.
  • Each class may or may not have an advisor, and usually students don’t even know who their advisor is.
  • Students cannot address professors by their names, wear hats in class, or chew gum (in some cases).
  • In India, teachers are given high respect because they impart knowledge.
  • Students can work together and complete their assignments without it being considered plagiarism.

Indian Society and Culture


  • The influences of Hinduism and the tradition of the caste system have created a culture that emphasizes established hierarchical relationships.
  • Indians are always conscious of social order and their status relative to other people, whether between themselves, family, friends, or strangers.

The Role of the Family

  • People typically define themselves by the groups to which they belong rather than by their status as individuals. Someone is deemed to be affiliated with a specific state, region, city, family, career path, religion, etc.
  • This group orientation stems from the close personal ties Indians maintain with their families, including the extended family.
  • The extended family creates a myriad of interrelationships, rules, and structures. Along with these mutual obligations comes a deep-rooted trust among relatives.

Just Can't Say No

  • Indians do not like to express “no,” be it verbally or nonverbally.
  • Rather than disappoint you, for example, by saying something is not available, Indians will offer you the response that they think you want to hear.
  • Since they do not like to give negative answers, Indians may give an affirmative answer but be deliberately vague about any specific details. This will require you to look for nonverbal cues, such as a reluctance to commit to an actual time for a meeting or an enthusiastic response.

Indian Etiquette and Customs

Meeting Etiquette

  • Religion, education, and social class all influence greetings in India.
  • This is a hierarchical culture, so greet the eldest or most senior person first.
  • When leaving a group, each person must be bid a farewell individually.
  • Shaking hands is common, especially in the large cities among the more educated who are accustomed to dealing with westerners.
  • Men may shake hands with other men, and women may shake hands with other women; however, there are seldom handshakes between men and women because of religious beliefs. If you are uncertain, wait for an extended hand.

Gift Giving Etiquette

  • Indians believe that giving gifts eases the transition into the next life.
  • Gifts of cash are given to friends and members of the extended family to celebrate life events such as birth, death, and marriage.
  • It is not the value of the gift but the sincerity with which it is given that is important to the recipient.
  • If invited to an Indian’s home for a meal, it is not necessary to bring a gift, although one will not be turned down.
  • Do not give frangipani or white flowers because they are used at funerals.
  • Yellow, green, and red are lucky colors, so try to use them to wrap gifts.
  • A gift from a man should be said to come from both he and his wife/mother/sister or some other female relative.
  • Hindus should not be given gifts made of leather.
  • Muslims should not be given alcoholic products or gifts made of pigskin.
  • Gifts are not opened when received.