India: Conversation – Part 3


Topics to avoid in conversation

Normally, Indians are a tolerant people, and are accepting of religious differences. During the last decade, however, there has been a rise of strong religious sentiments in Indian society. It is, therefore, advisable to avoid discussing religious beliefs. On the other hand, religious practices and rituals play a major role in Indian life, and a genuine enquiry into a certain religious practice will normally be met with an enthusiastic response.

Due to historical reasons, India’s relationship with its neighbouring country, Pakistan, has never been a very friendly one. Some educated Indians view this as a failure on the part of politicians on both sides. However, many Indians can be very biased, emotional and one-sided when discussing Pakistan. In general, it is advisable to steer clear of discussions on this topic.

One part of the diversity of Indian society is the large rich-poor divide. In India, one may quite frequently find rich localities and sprawling slums next to each other. Indians are as sensitive and defensive about the poverty as they are proud of the economic growth the country has seen. While Indians do openly discuss the country’s poverty, if a foreigner initiates a discussion about it, it is likely to be interpreted as an impolite criticism.

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