Change came to in India came in 1991, when it opened up economy to the world after years of protectionism. Today’s India, however, still has many problems – corruption, poor infrastructure, bureaucracy – but it also has new wealth and opportunity, which is attracting entrepreneurial talent from around the world.

Bangalore, nicknamed the Silicon Valley of India, and now officially known as Bengaluru, is a city of energy and development. However, despite its status as a leading industrial centre, it is still very much in the development stage. That said, there is a lot more to Bangalore than meets the eye.

Those who look beyond the power cuts, the road works, the traffic congestion and construction chaos will find that Bangalore is actually one of the prettiest cities in India. With its year-round salubrious weather, parks and tree-flanked avenues, Bangalore has earned itself a well-earned reputation as the “garden city.”

Things to remember when setting up a business:

  1. Always carry several passport-sized photos with you. You will require these for nearly every account you open and every form that requires a signature. Oh and don’t forget your company seal (stamp). Indians love a good stamp and signature on a document!
  2. When filing applications and opening accounts, ensure you bring with you every imaginable supporting document. There’s no such thing as too much paperwork!
  3. Government offices in particular can be very arbitrary and demanding on your patience, so be prepared for a full run-around and keep your sense of humour!

A couple of Indianisms:

Yes means Maybe, Maybe means No.

One thing you will learn very quickly in India is that people are always ready to please you by saying “Yes”. Although I have occasionally heard “No”, generally any question is met with a “Yes” or “Maybe”. But these statements do not necessarily mean that whatever you asked has, is or ever will happen. This could be misconstrued as irresponsible or even incompetent, but in India the people are simply being polite and not asking too many questions.

Of course, this politeness can create some serious issues in a business environment where goals are set and expectations are high. You need to be very clear about what can and cannot be accomplished and over what time frame.

I have found that the best approach is simply not to ask “Yes” or “No” questions. If you want something done ask what their timeline is. If you need something ask how can we make this happen. Then follow up regularly. In India, regular follow-ups are not a sign of distrust but a necessary part of business life. Someone once told me that the blend of Indian optimism and Western goal orientation creates an almost unbeatable atmosphere that seems to make the impossible possible!

Indian Standard Time

It is hard, in words, to explain how laid back the Indian work environment is or Indian society in general. Here things take their own time and it is rare to find someone running around in a state of stress.

Compare this to the typical Western company, where people will start tapping their fingers if a meeting is a few minutes late. Sometimes it can even feel as if nothing is happening, but then it always seems to work out in the end. Generally business meetings happen at scheduled times. But if someone says “I’ll get back to you in a few hours”, that could be anywhere from two hours to a week. In India there is always tomorrow.

Everything is Negotiable

I have found that literally everything is negotiable in India – from the price of onions to tomorrow’s internet installation. Even prices that have been pre-negotiated are indefinite until the deal is done. It is simply a different way of doing business. There are rules and cultural norms to adhere to but if you change the word rule to suggestion it will make it much easier to understand living in India. The best way to illustrate this is through Indian traffic.

Like many Commonwealth nations Indians drive on the left. This is the rule. However, if, say, you have to drive on the right for a few hundred meters, or even on the roadside because it is closer that way, then you do it.

Leap of Faith

I took a leap of faith when moving back to India. Although I grew up in India I had never actually worked here before. I am still learning, every day, about this fascinating and diverse country.

However I would not say that I am “adjusting”. India and its people are so diverse and so flexible that in many ways it feels like India adjusts to you.

My husband and I often talk about what an exciting time this is for India. There are so many opportunities here and so much enthusiasm for innovation and progress and Quite Frankly Productions India is so happy to be along for the ride.

Share this: