Prepare for Your Business Trip to India: What You Need to Know About Each Region
India is a large country with an exceptionally rich culture and history. This means that it’s almost impossible to make generalizations about Indian culture, since your actual experience of it largely depends on which region you’re visiting, or where your Indian business partner is coming from. In this article, we’ll try to highlight a few key differences between various regions of the country to prepare you for your business meeting. However, bear in mind that many discrepancies exist even within the regions, depending on the actual area (urban vs. rural), religion (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc), and geography (mountain vs. flatlands).
When conversing with business people from India, talking about these differences might be a sensitive issue. It’s best not to bring it up, as business people from India might not be open to discuss their differences with outsiders.
- North India
- West India
- South India
- Central India
- East India
- Northeast India
States in this region: Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan (the northern part), Uttar Pradesh (the northern part), and Uttarakhand.
The major cities in this region are Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Lucknow, and Kanpur. The main industries are automotive, IT, biotechnology, agro-based industries, textiles, pharmaceuticals, engineering, food processing, tourism, horticulture, chemicals, energy, and FMCG. US-based small businesses usually outsource various tasks including IT to cities in this region, as well as import products like textiles and chemicals.
The languages most frequently spoken are Hindi, Punjabi, Haryanvi, and Urdu.
The most important landmarks in this area are the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort in Delhi, and the Himalayas. Punjabi food originates from here, and places of religious importance are also located in this region, including the Sikh Golden Temple, Varanasi (a site for Hindu pilgrims who want to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges river), and Ayodhya (which is believed to be the birthplace of Rama).
General impression of inhabitants: Since this region has a lot of international contact and tends to be in the frontline of innovation, the people from this area are seen as more ambitious and entrepreneurial than others. They tend to be good at sales and are usually more active in politics. People are generally well-dressed and proud of their status.
States that belong to this region: Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan (the southern part), certain areas of Madhya Pradesh.
People mostly speak Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, and Konkani. The main industries are tourism, food processing, IT, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, dairy, agriculture, jewellery, electronics, engineering, biotechnology, banking, textiles, and marble. West India is another top destination for outsourcing, and plays a major part in international trade. If your partner comes from this region, you can expect them to be accustomed to our Western ways a bit better than people from another region.
This area is famous for its movies (Bollywood), and cricket. This part of the country generates a large percentage of its GDP, and is therefore somewhat more prosperous than other regions.
General impressions of inhabitants: life is more fast-paced around here than in other regions. People are usually active in business and trade, and thus have excellent entrepreneurial skills. They tend to be ambitious and always on the lookout for great business opportunities.
States in this region: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.
The biggest cities in this region are Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Trivandrum. The region’s most important sectors are agriculture, pharmaceuticals, IT, textiles, renewable energy, food processing, tourism, and mining. Although big outsourcing hubs like Chennai can be found in this region, South India has a bit more relaxed feel than the west. If you consider importing Indian food, South India is an excellent starting point.
The most spoken languages are Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam.
Spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and tamarind are widely used in this region. The famous biryani dish originates from here, and the area is rich in Hindu pilgrimage sites.
General impressions of inhabitants: life is slower-paced here than in west Indian states. People tend to be less ambitious and more loyal to their employers, thus staff turnover is generally low here. Great value is placed on education; people are highly literate and schooled in mathematics. Inhabitants tend to be more orthodox when following religious rules; for example, vegetarianism (which is part of Hinduism) is widespread in this area. People like talking about high culture and movies.
States in this area: the majority of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh (the southern part).
The most important cities are Bhopal, Indore, and Jabalpur. The most important contributors to the country’s GDP are agro industries, auto and auto parts, pharmaceuticals, IT, biotechnology, logistics, mining, food processing, tourism, and textiles. Central India is outside the major outsourcing zones and has less power to attract the interest of foreign businesses.
Hindi is the most widely spoken language.
The country’s most important diamond mines are located here, as well as lush forests and the famous Khajuraho Group of Monuments.
General impression of the inhabitants: this part of India is relatively underdeveloped compared to others. Life is slower here, and great importance is placed on meals.
This region includes the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, and Jharkhand.
The major cities here are Kolkata, Dhanbad, Patna, and Ranchi. The main industries are food and beverages, chemicals, textiles, transport equipment, petroleum, IT, auto and autoparts, biotechnology, textiles, iron and steel, electronics, tourism, and mining. Kolkata is another outsourcing hub. If you choose a partner from this region, bear in mind that East India is quite different from the western region. Life is slower-paced here and the mentality of people is more traditional.
People usually speak Bengali, Hindi, Bhojpuri, or Oriya in this region.
These states boast a great football and cricket culture, along with fish dishes, and the famous Bengali sweets mishti doi and rasgulla.
General impression of inhabitants: life is slower and more relaxed than in the western parts of India. People place great importance on arts and literature. The Communist Party of India has a huge influence in West Bengal.
The states of this region are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.
The most important cities here are Dimapur, Guwahati, Agartala, Aizawl, Imphal, and Shillong. The most important sectors are arts and crafts, ornaments, tourism, tea, agriculture, horticulture, gas and oil, food processing, bamboo products, energy, and electronics. US small businesses tend to consider importing bamboo products and tea from this region.
The most widely spoken languages are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Manipuri, Nepali, and Sikkimese.
These states are famous for their martial arts, bamboo handicrafts, meat dishes, and football.
General impression of inhabitants: since these states are largely separated from the main part of India by Bangladesh, many people don’t consider them strictly Indian. Christianity is largely present in some areas of this region. People are generally friendly and hardworking.
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