Cultural Characteristics of India

With more than half of the workforce being in agriculture, services however, is the biggest contributing factor the economic growth in India. The information technology (IT) sector is where most of the growth is taking place. Many companies in the United States are beginning to outsource their help desk and programming specialties to India where the labor is cheaper and there are an abundance of qualified individuals. In-fact many of the positions you see in IT are filled by people native to India simply because training for these specialties is limited in the U.

S. For example, if you were looking to hire an Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) developer it is highly unlikely that you will find a U. S. citizen with these skill sets, and if you did the U. S. candidate would certainly be demanding more money. India’s ability to train highly qualified IT professionals and ability to provide cheaper labor will continue to contribute to their increase in economic growth. Ultimately, it is those cultural characteristics we have discussed in class that has led India to so much growth over the last decade.

They are a collectivist society, with a large power distance and a different set of value orientations from our own. Higher education is of upmost importance, and often times, much more important than interpersonal relationships. This is evident of the fact that they place so much importance on one’s education and its correlation to family status when selecting a bride/groom in an arranged marriage. India is considered a large power distance culture because there is a clear hierarchy within the family, “the father rules authoritatively, followed by the eldest son and moving down the ladder by age and sex” (Neuliep, 2009. 9). Within the Indian culture the children are expected to be obedient and many Indian children feel that their parents really don’t understand what it is like to grow up in today’s diverse society. Indian parents constantly expect their children to go to the right schools, only converse with people who share the same cultural backgrounds and to marry within their own race and religion. There are many different religions in India which include: Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Sikh. In India, even though you may share the same ethnicity if you do not share the same religious beliefs, marriage is forbidden.

In my research I have come across a common theme within the Indian culture, and that is that Indian parent’s love to gossip about everything; they constantly discuss who got into what school, and who is getting married to whom. It’s not to say that Indian parents don’t want what’s best for their children because they do. In the article Indian Parents and Societal Pressure the author Arti Nehru states, “The really sad part about all of this is that parents truly want their children to be happy. But they are unsupportive in many instances because they worry about ne thing: What will people say? ” The Indian culture is more of a collectivist culture who has the tendency to stress the importance of a group over the importance of the individual. Neuliep confirms that, “In collectivist cultures, people are not seen as isolated individuals. People see themselves as interdependent with others their (e. g. , their ingroup), where responsibility is shared and accountability is collective. A person’s identity is defined by his or her group memberships” (Neuliep, 2009. Pg. 41).

Most of their values come from their traditional beliefs, their religious devotion and their secular spirituality. It is these value orientations that shape the way the Indian culture communicates with individuals in their own culture as well as with individuals outside of their culture. Values can affect the way people communicate within their own culture and with people of different cultures. They are “evaluative beliefs that synthesize affective and cognitive elements to orient people to the world in which they live” (Mooney, 2001, 2828).

The value orientation model is used to compare high-context cultures such as the Indian collectivist culture with low-context individualistic cultures such as the United States. It can be broken down into six different categories: self, family, society, human nature, nature, and supernatural. In a collectivist culture such as the Indian culture “self” refers to how one may view themselves in relationship to others, and can further be broken down into three different sub-categories: self-identity, age, and activity. In India self-identity would suggest that people value conformity and cooperation.

In India people are “interdependent with others, and for them, responsibility and accountability are shared and divided among the group members. ” (Neulip, 2009, 63-64). Age for a collectivist, high-context culture is admired when they are old and conversely, in an individualistic, low-context culture, age is admired when they are young. In a collectivist culture like India the people tend be very spiritual and believe that people should embrace life. The activity one performs on a daily basis is of less importance in a country like India. Whereas in the United States, activity ften refers to how people identify themselves through their activities such as their professions and occupations. Often times when Americans are asked who they are, they will answer with what they do for a living; indicating that they tend to associate who they are, with what they do. Family within a collectivist culture such as India tends to be more authoritative in nature. The “head of the household” will make the decisions rather than having everyone work together as a democracy when making decisions. In India, families are less mobile, and will always attempt to sit down together when eating dinner.

There is often a strict hierarchy that is followed among family members with the man of the house being at the top. The men and women in Indian families have very different roles within the family, which coincide with one’s hierarchal power. The male of the house makes the decisions, provides for the family and the women often times make the meals at night and take care of the children. In Indi,a family is a very important concept and marriage is considered to be sacred and is meant to last a life time. The term “society” in India can be broken down into two categories: social reciprocity and group membership.

According to Neuliep “social reciprocity refers to the mutual exchanges people make in their dealings with others” (65). In collectivist cultures like India, if one asks another for a favor it is expected that an equal exchange of favors will occur. In India, group membership is often a pervasive formality; they have a tendency to join only a few different groups over a life-time. In the United States membership in a group is usually short lived, whereas in India people are highly selective and group membership is usually a prolonged commitment.

This idea of a prolonged commitment to a group stems from those same cultural values that marriage does. In India, they practice arranged marriages and it is considered a lifelong commitment that is viewed as sacred. What may seem strange to the youth in the United States is actually embraced by youth in India. Many children in India feel that it gives them the ability to focus on their youth, and their education without the distraction or worry that an adolescence relationship can bring to the picture.

It is also said that the youth in India “feel secure in their parent’s ability to choose an acceptable partner for them, trusting that their parents have enough experience and knowledge to do so without creating a disastrous situation” (Galt, 2011, 2). Many cultures like India believe that when marriages are not pre-arranged they tend to burn out too quickly. They believe it is because the two people have already gotten to know each other, rather than spending a life-time together after marriage getting to know each other. Marrying a person you don’t know gives one a lifetime to learn to love them, as opposed to the American ideal of learning a person inside and out before entering into marriage” (Galt, 2011, 3). In the United States, many believe that the idea of an arranged marriage is something that is forced upon the two getting married. This however isn’t true, in India before a marriage can become official the bride and groom are afforded the opportunity to meet each other to decide if they would like to go forward with the marriage.

You might be surprised to hear that any rejection to a proposed marriage rarely occurs, and more often than not the proposed bride and groom will go through with the wedding as planned. This is because the parents of the bride and groom do their due-diligence and will often times spend years looking for a suitable bride or groom. They spend countless hours meeting with the families and friends, “considering hundreds of different aspects and comparison points before the potential bride and groom ever meet each other” (Galt, 2011, 6).

In many ways the Indian culture is different than our own, we have the tendency to be more of an individualistic culture while they tend be more collectivist. We are considered a low-context culture, while India is considered a high-context culture. We value or independence and look out for our own self-interests over that of the group. In India, they value the group over the individual and believe that if one fails, they all fail. Even though we may differ culturally we are still similar in many ways, the biggest being our level of diversity; we are both comprised of many different values, ethnicities, and religious beliefs.