Customs and traditions
In India, hospitality is central. Those who visit an
Indian household are usually offered the best house they
have. Traditional clothing also dominates, although
Western garments such as jeans nowadays are common at
least in the cities. India has a plethora of religious
festivals, holidays and various New Year celebrations.
The most common greeting phrase of the Hindus is the
lowest thing said with palms pressed at
chest height. Muslims say salam walekum.
Out of courtesy, you greet the oldest person first. Men
and women do not shake hands, although it may occur in
Western business contexts.
Overview of the capital city of India, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
It is important to behave respectfully towards
seniors, leaders and religious leaders. Titles such as
professor or doctor are often used. A common way to show
respect is to add "ji" to a surname, such as Gandhiji.
Indian women are often reserved towards foreign men.
Indians often have a fairly flexible view of times,
but in business context punctuality is becoming
increasingly important. Office workers generally start
after nine in the morning and the best time for meetings
is late morning or late afternoon. Many state workplaces
hold lunch closed. Business is open late.
Visits, invitations and gifts
At weddings and festivals like diwali
(see below), gifts are important. The wedding gift
signals the importance of the recipient to the donor and
the financial status of the donor. Clothes, home
electronics, jewelry and money are common wedding gifts.
It is fun to bring a smaller gift if you are invited
to an Indian family. Suitable symbolic gifts may be
fruits, sweets and nuts. Giving flowers is common among
well-to-do Indians. White flowers should be avoided as
they are used at funerals. It is polite for the
recipient to first refuse a gift. Wrapped presents are
not opened in the presence of the donor.
When visiting an Indian home you should take off your
shoes. The kitchen is a private part of the home and a
guest does not go there uninvited. It is impolite to
touch someone with the foot and if it happens by
accident you should apologize. If you are invited to tea
or something to eat, it is polite to say no once. If the
invitation is genuinely intended, it is repeated several
If a company goes to a restaurant in India, it is the
person who proposes the visit who pays the bill for the
Fun small talk is often about family and children,
career, food and culture. Topics to avoid include
religion, sex and political explosives such as Pakistan
and Kashmir. Indian issues such as poverty, caste
discrimination and child marriage are also sensitive
topics of conversation.
Indians unwittingly say no to a question and speak
rather hoveringly. Saying no to, for example, a dinner
invitation can be perceived as unfair and rejection can
instead be wrapped in an "I'll try" or "we'll see". When
you say "yes", you sometimes turn your head from right
Food and meals
Indian cuisine is incredibly rich and varies from
north to south. Hindus and Sikhs do not eat beef and
Muslims refrain from pork. Vegetarianism is widespread
among Hindus and Buddhists and many do not eat eggs
either. Practitioners of the religion Jainism also
refrain from onions and garlic. For many vegetarians,
cream cheese panir is an important
source of nutrition. Along the coast, seafood is common
food, while chicken and lamb dominate in the north.
In general, the dishes are spicy and the emphasis is
on vegetables and lentils. In northern India, unleavened
bread is a more important staple than rice.
An Indian breakfast often consists of a hot vegetable
dish with bread or rice. Tea is the most common drink in
northern India while coffee is found in the south. Lunch
or dinner can be dal, a lentil soup
that comes in many varieties, a vegetable or meat dish,
as well as rice or bread. For this, pickles and yogurt
are served. Indian desserts and sweets are very sweet
and are often based on milk and nuts.
After eating, it is common to chew on spices such as
anise to facilitate digestion and improve breath.
Another appreciated chew product is sweet paan,
where honey and various spices are wrapped in edible
paan leaves into a small package that is chewed and
swallowed. Paan is also available with tobacco and
crushed betel nut where the package is chewed and the
red juice is spat out.
Muslims, conservative Hindus and many women do not
drink alcohol. However, India has a large selection of
domestic beer and spirits. The wine industry is growing
rapidly with vineyards in the southern parts of the
country. Alcohol is expensive and among the poorest,
home-made liquor is a growing health hazard.
Indian food is often eaten with your hands and you
wash your hands both before and after the meal. You eat
with your right hand, the left is considered unclean
when used in toilet visits.
Indian women often wear sari and
salwar kamiz. A sari consists of about
six meters of fabric draped over a waist short blouse
and skirt. Salwar kamiz is a long tunic with slim or
puffy pants and a matching shawl.
For men, it is popular with kurta, a
long collarless tunic, which is worn with some form of
pants. Dhoti is a piece of fabric that
is wrapped around the waist and up between the legs
while the lungi, which is common in
southern India, is worn more like a wrap skirt. For this
you have a shirt or tunic. Indian men do not have shorts
and women do not wear short skirts.
Indian children and young people have school
uniforms. Sikh men always wear turban and Sikh boys comb
their hair in a knot on their head. Indian politicians
almost always wear traditional clothes, while Western
attire is becoming more common in business contexts.
Visitors should dress conservatively in the
countryside. It means long skirt, tunic and shawl for
women, shirt and pants for men. In larger cities and in
holiday resorts, Western attire goes well.
Holidays and Holidays
India's many religions mean that the country has a
wide range of religious festivals, holidays and various
New Year celebrations. Public holidays can vary from
state to state. An important national holiday is
Republic Day, which is celebrated on January 26 in
memory of the birth of the Republic of India. A
televised parade is held in New Delhi, where India's
military shows the muscles and each state participates
in cultural shows.
On August 15, India celebrates its independence from
the United Kingdom, and on October 2, the national hero
and freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi's birthday is
celebrated. On national holidays you can see the Indian
flag: a saffron colored, a white and a green field with
a blue chakra (a wheel with 24 spokes) in the middle
(see here). You can also hear the Indian national anthem
Jana-Gana-Mana (You are the ruler of
all human minds), to which the Nobel laureate and
national poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote both text and
For the Hindus, holi and
diwali belong to the biggest festivals. During
the holi in February - March you are welcomed in the
spring. The holiday is celebrated with games where both
children and adults throw toner and colored water at
each other. Diwali is a light festival in October -
November when the wealth goddess Lakshmi is honored with
parties, prayer ceremonies and gifts.
Muslims celebrate the feast of the month of
Ramadan, which ends with the party id
al-fitr. The Christians celebrate Easter and
Christmas. The Sikhs celebrate the birthday of Guru
Nanak, founder of Sikhism, at the end of November.
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A new law of corruption is adopted
The federal parliament adopts a new anti-corruption law that gives India an
independent ombudsman who can prosecute corruption-prone politicians and civil
servants. This has been one of Anna Hazare's main demands against corruption,
which the upper house has previously opposed. However, the leader of the AAP
party, Hazare's disciple Arvind Kejriwal, says that the new law is "weak" (for
background on the law see August 2011, December 2011 and
Gay acts again illegal
The Supreme Court decides that homosexual acts should again be criminalized.
A 153-year-old colonial law says that homosexual acts should be punished with up
to ten years in prison. The law was abolished by a lower court in 2009, but the
Supreme Court says it should not be abolished by the judiciary but by the
federal parliament. The Court says that it must be Parliament that establishes
and abolishes the country's laws.
The BJP becomes the big winner of the state elections
The overall result of the state elections will be a great success for the BJP
and a staggering setback for the Congress party. The results are seen as a
signal of where the people's opinion is before the federal elections in spring
2014. Strengthened by the successes in Delhi, AAP decides to stand in the
elections to the federal parliament.
AAP forms government in Delhi, BJP wins in Rajasthan
In the state elections in Rajastan, the BJP wins a landslide victory. In
Delhi, the dominance of the two major parties is broken when the Common People's
Party (AAP) becomes the second largest. The BJP becomes the largest party and
the Congress party comes third. Since the BJP and its alliance party are not
given enough mandate to form a government on their own, they renounce government
power. AAP forms the state government together with the Congress Party.
BJP wins in Madhya Pradesh
In the state elections in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP wins big. In Mizoram in the
far east, the Congress Party wins.
Violent election in Chhattisgarh
Elections to the state assembly in Chhattisgarh are held under great security
pressure. In several constituencies, the election process is disturbed by acts
of violence carried out by the Naxalites (see Naxalitu uprising), which should
have placed explosive charges at some polling stations in order to prevent
residents from voting. The ruling BJP becomes the largest party and retains
government power. The turnout is relatively high, which is interpreted as a
success for the Democratic parties and a setback for the Maoists.
Many killed in attacks in Bihar
Six people are killed and more than 100 injured when several explosive
charges explode in the city of Patna in Bihar. The explosions occur shortly
before BJP's Prime Minister candidate Modi will speak in front of a larger
gathering of supporters. Modi's number is set. No group assumes responsibility
for the attack.
Agreement on cooperation at the border with China
India and China enter into an agreement on border defense cooperation with
the aim of avoiding confrontations in the disputed joint border regions in the
American ship seized
The Indian Coast Guard stops a vessel owned by a private US-based security
company in Indian territorial waters. It finds that the ship is loaded with
weapons and ammunition that the owners have not declared. The 35-man crew is
arrested and detained in a port city in Tamil Nadu.
Protests against the formation of a new state
Andhra Pradesh is suffering from severe power outages for several days since
electricity workers went on strike in protest of plans to form the new state of
Telangana (see July 2013). The formation means that Andhra Pradesh in
the future will lose the dynamic metropolis Hyderabad. In addition to the
strike, other types of protest actions are also being carried out.
Famous politicians are sentenced to prison
One of India's most famous politicians, Lalu Prasad Yadav, is sentenced to
five years in prison for a corruption deal in the 1990s, when he was the head of
government in Bihar. He then embezzled tens of millions of dollars from a state
support program for livestock owners. The verdict means that Yadav loses his
seat in parliament. Lalu was formerly Federal Railways Minister and his party
Rashtriya Janata Dal supports the Congress party's federal government.
About 10 dead in Kashmir
About ten people, including police, military, assailants and civilians, are
killed by militant perpetrators at a police station and an army camp in Indian
Kashmir. The incident complicates the situation ahead of planned talks between
Pakistan and India in the UN.
Modi formally becomes prime ministerial candidate
The BJP opposition party formally appoints Narendra Modi (see June 2013)
as its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 elections.
Four convicted to death for group rape
The four adult men charged with the group rape in Delhi 2012 are sentenced to
death. The judge justifies the death penalty with the extreme brutality of the
crime and says the incident "shocked the collective conscience". On average,
around 130 death sentences per year are served in India, but until November 2012
no executions had been carried out in eight years.
Dozens of deaths in violence between Muslims and Hindus
The worst religious ravages in several years are erupting in the district of
Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, just over 10 miles northeast of Delhi. 49 people
are reported to have been killed when groups of Hindus and Muslims attacked each
other with knives and firearms. The riots begin after a mass rally in which the
participants demand revenge for the murder of three Hindu men as they objected
to a Hindu woman being verbally harassed. The political parties in the state
accuse each other of inflicting violence. Thousands of soldiers are sent to
Muzaffarnagar and military readiness is being raised throughout Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Singh pledges 200,000 rupees in compensation to the victims'
families and 50,000 rupees to the relatives of the most severely injured.
Lifetime prison for gang rape in Bangalore
Six men are sentenced to life imprisonment for a group rape against a
21-year-old Nepali female student at a university campus in Bangalore in October
The rapist is sentenced to juvenile imprisonment
The youngest of the defendants for the group rape in Delhi in December 2012
is sentenced to three years in prison. The man was 17, and thus a minor, when
the crime was committed.
Parliament adopts food safety law
Parliament's two chambers adopt the Food Grants Act for two-thirds of the
population, the so-called Food Safety Act.
The conflict in Kashmir is escalating
Five Indian soldiers are shot dead in Kashmir. According to the defense
minister, there have been people in Pakistani army uniforms among the 20 men who
killed the Indians. The Indian government submits a protest to Pakistan, which
denies involvement. After frantic reactions to the shooting deaths by the
opposition and the Indian public, the government sharpened the tone and openly
accuses the Pakistani army of being behind the attack. The shootings are
followed by several days of minor screen arrests at the border and mutual
accusations of escalating the conflict.
Requirements for more new states
The government's decision to move Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh (see below)
is triggering widespread protests among the people of Andhra Pradesh as well as
members of the state parliament and the federal parliament. About 30 members of
Andhra Pradesh parliament resign in protest. The decision also revives old
demands for new states in other parts of India. Both in West Bengal and Assam,
ethnic minorities demonstrate self-government.
Andhra Pradesh is to be shared
The government decides that the state of Andhra Pradesh should be divided by
telangana deployment. The new state of Telangana will have 35 million
residents and cover 10 of the 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh. Waiting for
Andhra Pradesh to get a new capital of its own, the two states will share in
Hyderabad which will then end up in Telangana. The decision triggers widespread
protests in Andhra Pradesh. For the proposal to become a reality, it must be
approved by both the Andhra Pradesh state parliament and the Delhi federal
Sentenced politicians must resign
The Supreme Court of India decides that members of federal and state
legislative assemblies must submit their assignments if sentenced to at least
two years in prison. More than 150 of the 543 members of the federal
parliament's lower house are suspected of crimes, most often corruption. The
decision is made to reduce corruption among politicians.
Attacks on Buddhist temples
Nine explosions occur at one of India's most famous Buddhist temple
complexes, Bodh Gaya Monastery and Mahabodhi Temple in the state of Bihar. Two
people are injured and the buildings are less damaged. The police describe the
explosions as a terrorist act and the Indian mujahedin is suspected to be behind
this. A man is arrested by the police.
The President approves the Food Safety Act
President Mukherjee signs the government's bill on food subsidies for
two-thirds of the population, the so-called Food Safety Act (see March 2013).
The law must also be ratified by Parliament.
Thousands dead in flood
One of the world's largest rescue operations is carried out when hundreds of
thousands of people get help from flooded areas in the state of Uttarakhand in
the Himalayas, where the monsoon rains are the worst in 80 years. An estimated
5,700 people are feared dead as a result of floods and landslides. Thousands of
villages are leveled or severely damaged.
Worst attack in Kashmir in five years
Eight Indian soldiers are killed and seven injured when armed men attack an
army column in Srinagar in Indian Kashmir. The attack is the worst in five years
and occurs the day before Prime Minister Singh will visit the area. A few days
earlier, two Indian policemen were shot dead in Srinagar.
The government is being reformed
Prime Minister Singh is rebranding in the government in an attempt to bring
new energy to the Congress party. Two senior ministers are dismissed and eight
new ministers are appointed.
Modi becomes BJP's prime ministerial candidate
The BJP appoints Narendra Modi, the prime minister of Gujarat, as leader of
the party's campaign committee ahead of the 2014 general elections (for more on
Modi see December 2012). In practice, the appointment means that Modi
will become the prime ministerial candidate for the BJP in 2014. The election of
Modi results in the party's founder and "patriarch", LK Advani, not leaving the
party congress - officially for health reasons. He also resigns from his party
assignments in protest but is persuaded to remain. The controversy exposes
strong contradictions within the BJP.
Many killed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh
At least 20 people are killed by Maoist rebels (see Naxali uprising) in
Chhattisgarh. A couple of those killed are high ranking politicians within the
Congress party in the state.
Death sentence for the explosion in Pune 2010
The man charged with blasting German Bakery in Pune in February 2010, when 17
people were killed, is sentenced to death for murder and for planning the act.
Five other suspected perpetrators are still on the loose.
Rape on children is rioting
Protest demonstrations are being held in Delhi after it was revealed that a
five-year-old girl has been trapped for at least two days after being kidnapped,
raped, tortured and left to her fate. Two men are arrested for the abuse. Later
this month, another five-year-old girl dies after a serious rape in Madhya
Pradesh. The girl is found unconscious in a farmhouse, taken to hospital but
dies after a few weeks. At least one man is arrested for the abuse.
Murdered Italians back in India
The Supreme Court decides that Italy's ambassador to India is once again free
to leave the country after the two Italian marines returned to India to attend
the murder trial in New Delhi (see March 2013).
Plans for food grants to the poor
The government presents a plan to subsidize food for two-thirds of India's
population. The so-called Food Safety Act means that access to food should
become a right supported by the law and that about 800 million poor Indians
should have access to five kilos of cereals every month. The law also means that
the price of a range of basic foods must be lowered through government
subsidies. The Food Safety Act was an election promise made by the Congress
Party in the election campaign in 2009.
Government Party jumps off
The DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) regional party in Tamil Nadu leaves the
government. The reason is that the DMK wants the government to make a clearer
mark against the Sri Lankan government's suspected abuse of the Tamil minority
in the civil war in Sri Lanka. The DMK wants India to label what happened in the
neighboring country as genocide (see Sri Lanka, modern history). Despite the
resignation, the government still has a majority in parliament.
Diplomatic dispute with Italy deepens
The conflict over the two murdered Italian marines deepens as India raises
the Italian ambassador's diplomatic prosecution immunity. The two defendants
return to India to participate in the trial since Rome stated that they have
received guarantees from India that the defendants will be treated well. Italy's
Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi resigns in protest of sending the Marines back to
Dispute with Italy on murdered marines
India's highest court forbids Italy's ambassador to leave the country after
the Italian government refused to extradite two Italian marines who are charged
with murdering two Indian fishermen in Kerala in February 2012. The defendants
have been detained in India since the shooting but were allowed to temporarily
visit their home country in February 2013 to vote in the Italian elections. They
then refused to return to India and were initially supported by the Italian
government. However, the Italian ambassador to India had personally guaranteed
that the defendants would return. The prosecuted Italians acknowledge that they
shot the fishermen but state that they believed they were pirates about to
attack the oil ship guarded by the soldiers.
Five dead in assault in Kashmir
Five security officers at a police station in Srinagar in Indian Kashmir are
killed in an assault, which is described as the worst assault against Indian
authorities in Kashmir in three years. In riots that erupt on the city streets
after the assault, about 10 people are killed in clashes with the police.
Prosecutor for the group rape dies
The bus driver who is charged with the gang rape in Delhi 2012 dies in
prison. Prison staff say he committed suicide by hanging, while his family and
defense attorneys say he was brought to life in prison after being beaten and
Explosion attacks in Hyderabad
Seventeen people are killed when two coordinated explosive charges detonate
at a bus stop in Hyderabad. The police investigation points to the Islamist
Indian mujahedin behind the act.
Execution leads to outbreak of violence in Kashmir
Demonstrations erupt in Indian Kashmir when Kashmir Muslim Mohammad Afzal
Guru is executed by hanging for participation in an attack on India's parliament
in 2001. Three young men are shot dead by police in connection with the
demonstrations. The people are upset, among other things, that the Guru is
buried inside the prison area of Delhi and not in Kashmir, and that his family
was not informed of the hanging in advance. Guru has been in death cell since
Many dead in clan-related violence in Assam
Thirteen people are shot dead by police when violence erupts at a polling
station in Assam. Members of the clan rabha oppose the local elections being
held, as they consider it contrary to the clan's traditional practices.
According to his own information, the police shoot into the crowd when a
security guard becomes stabbed. Before that, clan members must have attacked
staff in the polling station and tried to prevent them from entering the
building. Another six people are killed in violent clashes between various
Stricter punishment for crimes against women
The Indian government and president are introducing new laws that sharpen the
scale of punishment for a number of crimes targeting women, such as rape and
acid attacks. The death penalty can now be punished for a rape that causes the
victim to die or "end up in a vegetative state". Group rape, rape against
minors, and rape committed by police or other government personnel must provide
a prison term of at least 20 years (previously the minimum sentence was 10
years). In 2011, over 24,000 rapes were registered in India; a quarter of them
led to conviction. In Delhi, a rape is estimated every 25 minutes - every tenth
rape is reported to the police.
Doctors in the United States are condemned for participation in the Mumbai
An American-Pakistani doctor in the US is sentenced by a US court to 35 years
in prison for participation in the planning of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai
BJP elects new chairman
Opposition party BJP elects 62-year-old party veteran Rajnath Singh as new
party chairman. Sitting chairman Nitin Gadkari does not stand for re-election
after being accused of corruption. In the BJP, the president is not always
elected as the party's prime ministerial candidate in the general elections.
Women's Court is set up in West Bengal
As a direct consequence of the group rape in Delhi, a special women's court
is set up in West Bengal with only female staff. The court is supposed to be the
first in the line of similar courts in India. The aim is that cases involving
female abuse, rape or other crimes against women should be dealt with more
Rahul Gandhi is promoted
The Congress Party appoints Rahul Gandhi as Vice Chairman. He thus becomes
the party's second highest representative, after his mother, party chairman
More group rape is being noticed
Four Delhi police are being suspended from their services as a result of how
they handled a suspected gang rape that happened to a 21-year-old woman on
January 5. In Punjab, six men are arrested on suspicion of group rape against a
29-year-old woman aboard a bus.