Statues of Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who represents wealth and prosperity.

Story highlights

India is projected to become one of the world's biggest economies in coming decades

Experts say its business practices are very different from the West

To succeed in India, products need to be specifically tailored to the local consumer

Plenty of time needs to be factored in for bureaucratic delays

CNN  — 

For foreign executives, doing business for the first time in India can be a bewildering experience. There’s the new – different business customs, bureaucracy and the dizzying scale of the population – but also the familiar.

“You’ll likely be dealing with people who speak the Queen’s English, and who graduated from top Western universities,” said Jitendra Singh, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

“You can get lulled into a false sense of security – “but for people dressing a little different and talking a little different, they are just like me,’” he said. “That’s a completely false premise. There are all kinds of nuances in the culture, implicit cultural norms that we don’t know about until we run afoul of them.”

As the world’s second most populous nation, with more than one billion people, India is projected to become one of its biggest economies. It is tipped by PricewaterhouseCoopers to nearly draw level with the United States by 2050.

“For companies with any kind of global interest, the writing is on the wall that they need to have a strategy for India,” said Singh.

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