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Doing Business in India For Dummies® by Ranjini Manian

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Getting a Sense of Indian Collectivism

Collectivism is a term used to describe any moral, political, or social outlook that stresses human interdependence and the importance of collective instead of separate individuals. Understanding the Indian sense of belonging can be a huge asset for you as you begin to do business in the country. You need to have great respect for certain bonds in order to build useful, lasting business relationships, and knowing how Indians relate to each other helps you to relate and avoid confusion.

There’s a big difference between the social make-up of India and that of the West. Indians still think in terms of clans, at least subconsciously. This has a bearing on various levels of Indian society. For starters, Indians may feel that they belong to a certain caste, community, or religion. They may also have a geographic sense of belonging, from living in the same village, city, or state. Then there’s the clanship of extended families—responsible for powerful ties—and, above all, the kinship of simply being Indian.

All these different levels of connection means that if you put any two Indians in a room together, chances are they’ll discover some commonality. That’s pretty amazing, considering the teeming millions that make up the country. And though the old system of large joint families sharing homes and responsibilities is disintegrating—thanks to the booming growth of cities—many Indians make a conscious effort to touch base regularly.

Indians take ...

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