What are some of the important differences between British and Indian culture?
Here we'll examine some of the common areas within the workplace and professional world where Brits and Indians don't quite see eye-to-eye.
Although there are many cultural synergies, due to their long and turbulent shared history, modern-day Indian culture is different in many ways from British culture.
Let’s look at four key examples.
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4 Key Cultural Differences between British and Indian Culture
1. Indian Culture is More Group Oriented than British Culture
Perhaps the most distinct difference between British and Indian culture relates to the value placed on collectiveness.
In India, heavy emphasis is placed on family and clan (often aligned along socio-economic, religious, or political lines), and people largely define themselves by the groups they belong to rather than by their status as an individual.
In comparison, Western societies are more individualist in nature, with weaker ties to families and social groups. Whereas Indians tend to put the needs of the group first, British people are less likely to sacrifice their personal needs.
2. British Culture is Less Hierarchical than Indian Culture
This can be seen in families, in which children are taught to obey the commands of their parents, and in educational establishments, where teachers and professors have authority over their students and organise and instruct them greatly.
This hierarchy is also evidenced in workplaces and organisations, with clear leaders to whom the rest of the group reports.
This is different from their Western counterparts, in which there is a largely horizontal structure that lacks the notion of hierarchy. Although hierarchy is important in some respects in British culture, great value is placed on equality.
3. Indian Culture is More Closed than British Culture
Leading from the notion of respect, mentioned above, Indian people largely try to avoid sharing negative thoughts and comments and offending the other person.
In this attempt to be polite, it can be difficult for other people to truly grasp the individual’s real thoughts opinion on a subject.
Contrastingly, the higher degree of openness in British culture means that people are more likely to say what they think.
Although Brits tend not to be as open and direct as some of their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, they are far less likely to tiptoe around others when offering their opinions.
4. British Culture is Less Conservative than Indian Culture
Indian culture tends to be very traditional in nature and is imbued with ideas of respect, dignity, and honour.
This transforms Indian society into one which is warm, welcoming, closed and old-fashioned. For example, Indians have a very conservative approach to clothing, (though this is changing, especially amongst the youth), profanities and cursing are generally not used in daily conversation and a certain etiquette is directed at even some of the most mundane to day to day activities.
Conversely, in Britain, people tend to be far more relaxed and less traditional when it comes to areas such as clothing or swearing. The value placed on individualism also means that people are not so tightly bound to rituals or set ways of doing things.