Key Indian Values: Common Denominators in a diverse nation


I have lived in US for more than 5 years now. My daughter was a year old when we arrived here. Now she is in Kindergarten and does things that I sometimes cannot fathom. One of the more prominent things that I have noticed is she is very self reliant. I ‘d say, I was not even 1% when I was her age. Not only that, she already has choices of her own, and it is difficult to convince her otherwise in any situation. I guess most of you may say that it is a good thing and maybe it is, and I’d agree if I was born and bought up here in US. However, it makes me uncomfortable that she has a very different cultural influence than what I had growing up.

Please do not mistake me, US offers you what no other country in world does. The standard of living, infrastructure, facilities etc….and honestly it is a difficult decision to make, whether to live here or go back.

Why is this decision so difficult?

Especially when an Individual is earning more money and getting pretty much everything that he wants materialistically!
It is because he/she worries about how their kids are going to grow up and with what values. The same thought that I keep having in my mind all time and one of the main reasons that my decision is drifting towards moving back to India.
So what are these Indian values that I am talking about ? After all India is one of the most diverse countries. A south Indian living is Kerala for e.g. is completely different to a person living in Northern India. Their physical attributes are different, their professions are different, their language, their festivals and even the food they eat are miles apart from each other.

However, one thing that they have in common is values

Tyaga (renunciation), dana (liberal giving), nishtha (dedication), satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence) and upeksha (forbearance) are the foundations for the Indian values system.

Following are the few examples that you see very commonly in India:

Respect for parents and Elders: In most cases you will see that children have high respect for their parents and elders. Even when they grow up the respect always stays. Also, children take care of their parents till their last.

Family orientation: Indians will have very close knit family. Nowadays it is difficult to have joint families, but in early days having a joint family was a matter of pride.

Sacrifice and adjustment: Most Indians are known for their adjusting nature. They are not rigid and in most cases, they put others before themselves.

Importance to Education: Education is probably the most important thing for parents about their children. Parents sacrifice their career and savings to give children better education.

Trust in Institution of Marriage: In India more than 70 % are arranged marriages and divorce rate is less than 3%. This only goes to show that husband and wife make adjustments and go to lengths to ensure that marriage is successful.

This is what I want my daughter to see in her everyday life when she is growing !

Todays Poll on Indian cultural value system: click here if you are reading this post in a feed reader and can’t see the poll

Further Reading: A case study on Indian Values

Note: This is the 7th post in the 30 part series that I am doing on Key success factors for doing business in India – A 30 part series!Earlier Posts in the series:

# An overview of India’s history, geography, and legacy
# India’s economic growth and Rise of Consumer Market
# The political landscape of India and its effects on business
# India’s new-found confidence: implications for international firms
# One of the largest English speaking nations.

  1. Mark says

    Gosh! all i can see are ads. Such a cluttered page!

  2. […] you, I am not criticizing India in any way, I prefer living in India any day and hence I came back for good. But at the same time – for these people, it is a […]

  3. Rizwan Memon says


  4. Winds says

    I have recently decided to move back to India. My son, seven yrs old, and wife are in India while I am wrapping up the things here in US. Why I am going back..???
    1. US makes kids much more confident and independent in their own way. This is advantage or disadvanatage? I don’t think kids will be able to decide good or bad about their life, career, long term goals at the age of 18 or so. They would be smart but a immature call at that age a wrong call would be devastating for them with late recovery or no recovery. You will find a huge population who are doing their college at the age of 30+. Whereas in India, you can broght up your son similar to US by giving him freedom, listening him but hope that I would be able to guide him very well as he will falling thru our culture of respect and obedience. I beleive, in India, you have the possibility to give him controlled freedom and choices which he will cherish and you would be happy.

    2. Education system- Yes, in India, education system is good but the methodology is really bad. You cannot question the teacher, you can discuss anything with teacher.. you just have to follow. I would say, teachers hardly encourage a child to learn and under stand the subject. Teachers feel proud in painting your childs notebook RED!
    In US, yes, there is a dialouge between teacher and student, they make the subject look easy, lot of books to read, less students in the classroom, over all activities are more but then the pace of education is very slow. Teachers are not knowledgable enough about depth of the subject(may be I am over quoting). The portion which is covered thru the year is way less than the kids capacity. Also there is no compulsion to complete the homework or project. So my son questions me why I insist him on completing the homework and his parents don’t. I answer him to his statisfaction but i realised that it is endless saga. n the contrary, in India, students have to cover a lot of ground, many subjects, portions are large, challenge to catch up with a teacher who ONLY(yes ONLY, my sonexperiencing it in India now) either READS or WRITES on blackboard. But ultimately kids adjusts with that and you will see that he learns and knows many things around the world than any american child.

    3. Society/Community- Here I might get flakes from many of you but beleive it or not, I am finding it better in India than US. Boss, its better someone poking nose in your matter than not communicating at all! You can teach yourself always to ignor ethose poking comments but you see, my son doesn’t have ask ghis mom before going(not calling!) to his friends home next building or next door, parents don’t have toa gree on play date, too many friends to play around and therefore he has a freedom to choose his time rather than we chjoosing his time. They fight, cry and adjust.. no more coming home to complain how the guy was rude..! Family visits, seeing and beliving in Indian festivals and enjoying them as well (this one thing can never happen in US whatever you do.. you will end justifying to yourself but you know at the bottom of your heart that your son doesn’t get it, he doesn’t wait for Diwali or Holi like we do.. he waits for Haloween and Christmas!!).

    4. Aging parents – Yes this is one of the drivers for me to go back. My parents still have good 10-12 years of good health and they could have visited me in US and so. But not after 10-12 years! Then shall I leave my parents there in India and stay here when they need me most! And going back to India after 10-12 years would have been a difficult choice as my son couldn’t have relate anything to India so he would have stayed here to fight his own battles.. good ar bad!!
    Also when i hear from my friends when they tel me that thier parents or inlaws expired but they couldn’t perform the last rites or could see them in those dying minutes.. I felt bad.. is this what we want.. certainly not me!!
    Also I don’t want to get old into this country and die as single person..

    5. Materialistic things- Yes US gives you all.. roads, water, power, high paying jobs(may not be factor any more), well disciplined society.. Inindia you get pollution, crowd, arrogance, negligence, unnecessary poking nose(unavoidable !!!), unsolicited guidance etc.. long list… but in the end it is just a way of life.. our parents lived, we lived and so our chidren will… !!!

    6. Leaders Vs Slaves- I read one comment stating that US build leaders adn we slaves. I disagree with it.. The reason for we being slaves is applicable in our generation only and too mostly because of our financial background.. most of us were from lower middle class looking to do good for our family share families financial burden.. the goal was to earn some money and provide stability.. our generation didn’t enjoy that finacial stability to take additional risks to start our businesses and suceed.. gioal was to provide stability to our family, earn enough to make life better for our children than ours.. the answer lies.. now as you have money, you would encourage your son/chile to be on his own.. he might not want to do a job…
    hope this helps all…!!!

  5. Allytude says

    re- the values you pointed out, do you honestly think that people in the West DO NOT have those values? I think those are universal values. Everyone respects them. Having those values is not a uniquely Indian trait.

  6. Gal says

    I am an Indian living in the US. People in the US are really polite, have polished manners and are generally helpful. They’re hard-working and are high achievers.
    I love them for that!
    However, what kind of bothers me is the ongoing disintegration of moral values in the American society. Young adults can choose to do whatever they want without taking into account the consequences their actions are going to have,
    I find the speech of most of my American classmates extremely offensive. They’re almost always cracking vulgar jokes. Many people think, “sex” as a topic for discussion is taboo in Indian society. I strongly disagree. Indians don’t talk about it simply because there really isn’t a need to.
    I am a college student here in the US and so I have an insider’s view of how obsessed teenagers can get with sex. They constantly talk about it, think about it and eventually act on their thoughts. Nothing disgusts me more than pre-marital/extra-marital sex. This is all because of how openly sex is discussed in the media and various other places. Young people’s curiosities are aroused and they want to find out for themselves what this so-often-talked-about thingummy is all about.
    Just look around and it won’t take long for you to notice how common the use of the f-word has become. Drinking is considered acceptable…They try to promote the idea, “Do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone”. I can list a 100 reasons why pre-marital sex hurts society as a whole even if it doesn’t look all that bad.
    To sum it up, I’d say the moral depravity in the US doesn’t make it the most ideal place for children to be raised in.
    I would definitely recommend that you consider going back to India so your children would be brought up there. Perhaps, you could come to the US when they’re in their late teens or something.
    True, you can live a life of luxury here in the US(and have other benefits as have been mentioned by ABCD in the previous post) but what matters most is your values which in my opinion, are invaluable…

  7. ABCD says

    I feel that there are good things about our Indian culture and you have mentioned the positives that I have thought of. However, I feel that the American culture has many more positive attributes than does the Indian. I am currently a student in high school but was born and raised in India until the age of 4. From what I have analyzed, I have come to believe that a mix of both the American and Indian cultures is the optimal situation for raising a child. The aspects of the Indian culture that you should incorporate include strong family values, respect for elders, and the importance of education. However, many American values should also be included.
    The biggest flaw in our culture is the common mentality of doing as a superior tells. Us Indians are reputed as being very “smart”. I completely disagree with this. I feel that we are not smart but simply are conscientious. When given a task, we execute that duty with perfection while giving importance to meticulous details. However, we are not likely to think intuitively and ingenuously. That is where the American culture comes in. We are trained by our culture to be submissive to our elders and superiors and to do as we are told. We are not given an option to think but instead are submitted to laboring over set instructions. Never in our minds would we think of confronting our superiors or questioning authority. Americans make it a point to question everything. Daddy why do I have to do this? Would you ask your father that question if he asked you to do something? I think not. In the American culture, this is acceptable. You are allowed to question what you may think is wrong or could be done differently.
    Another flaw in our culture is the way we raise our children. From birth, we shelter our kids from anything that could possibly harm them. We do not permit them to take risks and be independent. By doing so, we promote fickle mindedness and a lack of confidence. In today’s world, confidence is imperative for success. If we do not let our kids venture into the unknown and try things that may have an adverse effect on them, then when they are by themselves as adults and do mess up, they will not know how to deal with the failure. We should allow for them to make mistakes and learn from them at an early age while parents are still there to correct them. This does not happen in India.
    The American culture is set up so the above two flaws do not exist. If you want to raise your kids in an optimal environment, America is the place to be. You need to take it upon yourself to blend the two cultures correctly. Instill independence and give the right to question to your kids as do the American. However, simultaneously instill family values and respect. My parents, though they were raised in India, manage to blend both cultures magnificently. I am an excellent student in school. At the same time, I go to parties and hang out with guys AND girls. It is very much possible to have the best of both worlds. However, for this to happen, you need to stay in America.

  8. shreekant says

    thank you for ur information
    u r doing great job
    i’m learning alot from ur site
    you r a truely an INDIAN

  9. trakin says

    SRK…Thanks for your comment. I’d not want to oppose you in what you have mentioned, however, the view point I mentioned is more generic. I do agree that there are other wrong things in India and if you are a regular reader of my blog you would see I have covered a lot of negatives of Indian too..
    When it comes to Indian values, a large percentage of population still follows the traditions. Remember, more than 65% of Indians still live in villages and even in urban population, 85% are middle class for whom these values and tradition are quite important.
    And finally thanks for the cautioning me on my return. My return to India may have many reasons, of which this one is important, but not the only.

    1. Shebeeb says

      If it’s possible please give a comparison between rural and urban people who are still holding the values of indian culture in your blog.
      Many are eager to know that and most of the city guys are believing that wat value a urban holds is same as a rural boy holds.

  10. srk says

    for every one nice thing you point about india there are a hundred that are wrong. the crime rates – inequality – corruption – frustations in daily life – nepotism just to name a few. Besides all of these things you mention can be inculcated anywhere in the world – I mean its not that Americans dont respect their parents?? Besides, since its been 5 years for you you’ve probably lost touch with whats happening here. Millions of kids here also dont respect their parents, thousands get onto drugs, hundreds get into criminal activities. Your reasons for coming back are flawed and if you took a decision based on that you’d be very disappointed.

    1. Shebeeb says

      It’s only Y generation who born after 1980 and who lived in cities.
      The people or children in rural areas or semi- urban areas are still holding the indian cultural values.
      If u want to know that just travel through the places like Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

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