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Doing Business in India For Dummies® by Ranjini Manian

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Religion in Indian Business: Giving the Deities Their Due

Eighty percent of Indians are Hindu, so Hinduism is a way of life in the country. Separating religious life from public life is practically impossible. Most Indians are deeply devout; some are even deeply superstitious. To conduct and foster Indian business relations, it’s crucial that you understand the role of religion. I focus on Hinduism in this section because of its prominence and because Westerners tend to know less about it than the other religions—primarily Islam and Christianity—found in India.

Bowing to the Supreme Being

In Hinduism, the goal is to reach an ideal through an idol. Hindus have myriad varieties of the one formless and omnipresent Supreme Being they believe in. (I lost count at 33,000!) It’s quite common for an employee to keep a picture of one of these gods or goddesses in an office or on a desk. Indians make a daily routine of bowing before these pictures (or sometimes symbols or statues) before beginning work. Figure 15-3 shows Ganesha, the elephant-headed God whose blessings are sought at the beginning of all ventures; he’s the favorite deity of most Hindu businesspeople.

Figure 15-3. A typical depiction of Ganesha.

Varun, who was raised in Mumbai, educated at New York University, and works as a Goldman Sachs researcher in Bangalore, practices this blessings routine daily and with sincerity. ...

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