Summary: Cultural Competence for Professional Travel in India
Note: The following guidelines are based on traditional customs and practices. Some of the formalities or
cultural taboos outlined below may not always be applicable in large urban centers, or when dealing with
Men shake hands with men when meeting and leaving, but not with women. Indian women may
shake hands with foreign women, but not with men. This may not be the case in an international
business setting, it is best to follow the lead of your host.
Never address an Indian by his or her first name.
Unless you're familiar with Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh titles, use the following information to
- In the North, name order is first name and last name.
- In the South, name order is father's first name and first name.
- Across India, address Hindus by English courtesy title (Mr., Mrs., or Miss) or
professional title and last name (in the north) or first name (in the south).
- After establishing a relationship, Hindus may give you a nickname like "uncle" or
"mother." Never refuse this offer of friendship.
When finishing a conversation ask for your host's permission before leaving.
When shaking hands with a Muslim, use only your right hand.
Indians often converse indirectly. When someone says, "I will try," he or she generally means