Purchasing Magazine had a useful take this month on the culture of doing business in India. As someone who has seen first hand how backward India's infrastructure can be -- especially compared with other rapidly developing regions -- it's important to develop a thick stomach in more ways than one before moving spend to the region. But at the same time, India's unique culture can contribute to the business environment in positive ways. While the article discusses how "Indian society in general and its business world lacks a sense of urgency present in most others" I've personally observed ways of working around this limitation (e.g., setting early deadlines, being very explicit on deadlines, tying full payment to on time delivery, etc). And I also must say the article is somewhat of a general survey of sorts.
For example, I laughed out loud when Purchasing suggested that alcohol should be on the "no" gift list (which I surmised was because of the strict practices of many Hindus). Because in my experience, many of our Indian friends and business partners know how to get loose faster than a WASP on Martha's Vineyard. Now that's not everyone, but in my experience, you need to judge the individual in India, not the culture, before deciding on the most appropriate gift! But as for the comment about avoiding meat in India, I'd say that's spot on, not because of offending your colleagues, but because of the potential for spoilage due to lower sanitation and refrigeration standards. And in a country which certainly offers the best vegetarian -- but certainly not Vegan – cuisine(s) in the world, why would one even consider eating meat?