Country Facts – India
This information is provided to offer guidance to those seeking to live and work overseas. For more information we recommend that you speak with your national government Foreign Office (or equivalent).
Living and working in India
When you think of India, you probably imagine ancient monuments like the Taj Mahal, the bustling markets of Delhi, star-studded Bollywood and the sprawling beaches of Goa. Indeed, India offers an eclectic and colourful mix of culture, landmarks, food and natural beauty, and whether you’re visiting the country for a short trip or are relocating to this remarkable nation, you’re certainly in for an unforgettable experience.
As the seventh-largest country in the world, with more than 1.2 billion people and an economy that’s not quietly growing, but rather rocketing skywards, India offers a lot of opportunity for intrepid expatriates. However it also presents plenty of challenges ranging from terrorism and corruption to poverty and on-going conflicts with neighbouring nations.
With so much to think about, it’s essential for anyone moving to India to be prepared. Do your research, invest in appropriate international healthcare and get ready for an amazing, but sometimes tumultuous, experience.
Local laws and customs
Possession of illegal drugs can carry lengthy sentences in India, with a minimum of six months imprisonment if you are caught with small amounts for personal use and up to 10 years for larger amounts.
Satellite phones and various other types of listening and recording devices are illegal in India without a special licence that must be obtained before you arrive in the country.
These can include radio transmitters, cameras with powerful lenses and binoculars, and certain hobbies like photography, bird watching and plane-spotting have been misunderstood by authorities in the past. If in doubt, contact the Indian High Commission before travelling.
India has a universal healthcare system that is run by the various states and territories. The country’s constitution requires that each state work to provide public health and improve the standard of living and nutrition of the people living within its borders.
However, the standard of healthcare provided is not always high and many people opt for private medical cover in both urban and rural areas in order to improve their level of care.
Malnutrition and infant mortality are two major problems for the current health system, while a number of diseases such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, malaria, dengue fever and pneumonia are also common. Meanwhile, the country has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV infection.
To help ensure you have the best healthcare possible, be sure to opt for expat medical insurance before you travel.
Schooling for kids
Both private and public education systems are in operation throughout India and funding for these institutions may come from the central, state and local governments.
In recent years, the country’s primary education system has made great strides and the progress has led to a significant increase in literacy rates – many also attribute the country’s economic rise to an improvement in education. That said, it’s generally agreed that further improvements need to be made, as approximately one-quarter of the population is illiterate and only seven per cent of students finish high school.
Enjoying a meal at the home of friends and relatives is one of the most popular ways to socialise in India, and it’s customary for guests to bring flowers or other gifts like chocolates or sweets for their hosts. Just be sure to avoid the colours black and white, as they are believed to be unlucky.
Aim to arrive 15 or 20 minutes late to social occasions, and when you enter the home you should remove your shoes. Indian families often don’t drink during their meals, so it’s likely you’ll be offered a beverage on arrival. Also, remember that it is polite to clean your plate, so be sure to pace your eating throughout the night.
The official language spoken in India, and used for most government purposes is Standard Hindi; however, there is no specified natural language. Meanwhile, English is the secondary language and it is often used for business purposes.
Many other languages are spoken throughout the country, and these often vary by location since each state can legislate to adopt an official language for the region. For example, Marathi is the official language of Maharashtra, while Punjabi is spoken in Punjab. Tlegu, Oriya, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Urdu and Dogri are just some of the other languages and dialects that you might come across.
For more information on moving abroad visit www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo.
Of course, if you’re planning on travelling to India please ensure you have adequate expat travel insurance.