"Sensitizing" Courses for Britons Living in India
Political Correctness; Posted on: 2008-04-16 12:42:47 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
New Judges to Get Diversity Training
Britons working in India are taking cultural courses to help them adapt to the often bewildering customs and society of their adopted home.
“Indian-ness” lessons help foreigners understand how common western gestures can lead to blank faces, faux pas or outright insults.
The courses also help them navigate Indian social dilemmas, such as managing the domestic help and entertaining guests, and deal with the nation’s contrast of extreme wealth and abject poverty.
Rajina Manian, of the Global Passage school in Madras, said many of the 50,000 foreigners who arrive in India each year do so “armed with misconceptions”.
Importantly, immigrants from Britain must learn that the days of Empire are over, she added.
“These misconceptions have to be righted if they want to lead a contented and embarrassment-free existence here.
"The old equations where Westerners instructed and we listened are now over.”
Miss Manian, who wrote Doing Business in India for Dummies, said that the ways of new India could not be learned from books, journals or films.
The “sensitising” courses from Global Passage and similar organisations instruct clients from Nokia, Ford and Hyundai, and can cost up to £1,875.
In business, many western conventions become confused or meaningless.
Many expatriates consider a limp handshake by Indians to indicate a lack of character.
However, Indians fold their hands in greeting, as if in prayer, and many have never shaken hands.
Crucially when closing a deal, the nod of the head can mean either yes or no, depending on the area of India in which you are nodding.
Westerners can easily trip up in social gatherings too.
Taking wine to a dinner party is considered a slight on the host.
Flowers are much preferred.
A slower pace can also upset expatriates, said Miss Manian, and expecting instant solutions to even minor household problems is unreasonable, imperious and over-demanding.
Executive wives, however, are instructed to deal with domestic staff firmly and fairly, and to never over-compensate them.
The importance of the moustache can also be overlooked by immigrants.
In Sikh regions, upturned moustaches represent a man’s reputation, hence the saying “not having a moustache is akin to having nothing”.
If you are told you have lowered someone’s moustache, you have slighted someone.
FROM A.L.: It's interesting how Britons do not adopt a similar (and mandatory) program for foreigners living in Great Britain. It is also interesting how seemingly very few of these foreigners even want to understand or adopt British cultural and societal mores, while their British counterparts in India do the opposite. A double standard at the expense of native Europeans? Yes.
News Source: telegraph