India, the world’s largest democracy, is home to over a billion people. There is incredible cultural diversity between languages, geographic regions, religious traditions and social groups. Because of this diversity it is difficult to represent every Indian person. There is a lot of pride in their many achievements in agricultural and technological advancements through to the rich artistic culture of music, fine arts and literature.
As India has one of the largest populations in the world, there is a high cultural tolerance for crowding. crowding and several generations often live under one roof.
Indians (comprising both Australians of Indian origin and those resident in Australia) are now Australia’s fastest growing group of migrants. According to the most recent (2016) Census, the number of people born in India represents approximately 2.4 per cent of the Australian population, or 1 in 50 people. Victoria has the largest number of Indians followed by New South Wales.
India remains Australia’s largest source of skilled migrants and the second largest source of international students. Hinduism is our fastest growing religion and Punjabi is our fastest growing language.
The family is an important institution that plays a central role in the lives of most Indians. As a collectivistic society, Indians often emphasise loyalty and interdependence. The interests of the family usually take priority over those of the individual, and decisions, such as marriage and career paths, are generally made in consultation with one’s family. Arranged marriages are common throughout India, though expectations and practices of marital arrangements vary depending on the region and religion.
People tend to act in the best interest of their family’s reputation, as the act of an individual may impact the perception of the entire family by their community.
Strong links are maintained with extended family living overseas, through regular phone calls, financial support and visits when possible.
There is vast linguistic diversity with at least 22 major languages and hundreds of regional or local languages. Most Indians tend to be bilingual or multilingual, speaking an official language along with their regional language(s). English is often reserved for governmental and commercial purposes.
People who do not share a common first or native language will generally communicate in either Hindi or English. It is important to be considerate of the linguistic diversity of India as many Indians consider their language (particularly their regional or local language) to be a source of identity.
Religion has historically influenced Indian society on a political, cultural and economic level. There is a sense of pride associated with the country’s rich religious history as the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism all emerged out of India. Moreover, while a majority of people in India identify as Hindu (79.8%), the medley of religions that exist within the country continually impact contemporary society.
The public importance of religious practices can be seen in the number of sacred and holy sites throughout the country.
India is ranked number 10 on Open Doors list of most dangerous places to be a Christian.
Indians are generally exceptionally hospitable.
It is common to be offered a cup of chai (spiced tea) when visiting someone’s home. There is often an expectation that the guest will accept what is offered. If you refuse something, it may be seen as a token protest made out of politeness. Thus, instead of accepting your refusal, an Indian may insist that you receive what has been offered.
Wash your hands before eating or serving food to an Indian. Everyone normally uses their right hand to serve themselves, scooping with the fingers or with a serving spoon. Your host may fill your plate for you, or they may expect you to serve yourself. There is a general distinction between northern and southern Indian food. The latter is usually much spicier.
Be patient when making decisions or negotiating with your Indian counterpart. Indians tend to take their time when deliberating decisions, regardless of the urgency or importance of the decision. Some questions Indians ask may appear quite forward or frank by Western expectations (e.g., ‘How much do you earn?’).