At A Glance


It occupies the greater part of South Asia and is bounded to the northwest by Pakistan, to the north by China, and to the east by Myanmar (Burma). It is set off from the rest of Asia by the imposing northern mountain range of the Himalayas. It has an area is 1,147,955 sq. miles



Although India’s population is predominantly rural, the country has three of the largest urban areas in the world—Mumbai, Kolkata (Calcutta), and Delhi. India is the second most-populous country, after China.


There is no single Indian language. Instead, there are more than 20 languages commonly spoken in India. Hindi is the most widely spoken and is one of the country's official languages. English is another of the official languages. The next most commonly spoken languages are Bengali, Telugu, and Marathi.


The predominant religion is Hindu which is practiced by 80%, of the population. Next is 14% practicing Muslim, and 2% Christian


The average rate of 64.8 %, but there is a wide disparity between males and females: 75.3% for males and only 53.7% for females. Education is free and compulsory for all children up to age 14. The great majority of all children of primary-school age are enrolled, though many, especially girls, may not attend regularly. Only about  half of all children aged 11 to 14, attend school.


It has mixed economic system in which the government, is defined as socialist. India has one of the largest, most highly diversified economies in the world, but, because of its enormous population, it is one of the poorest countries on Earth. The agricultural sector remains the country’s main employer (about half of the workforce.)

Manufacturing remains another solid component of GDP. However, the major growth has been in trade, finance, and other services, which, collectively, are the largest component of GDP. Following the market reforms of 1991, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is home to the third largest economy by purchasing power parity. However, the population still faces challenges such as malnutrition, corruption, poverty, and inadequate healthcare. India is mainly defined by the various cultures highlighted by the different ethnic groups.



India provides the world’s most-pronounced example of a monsoon climate. We will be visiting during the hot/wet weather season (mid-June to the end of September.)


The main staple is rice throughout most of the east and south and is supplemented with the puree of a legume (called dal), a few vegetables, and, for those who can afford it, a small bowl of yogurt. Chilies and other spices add zest to this simple fare. For most Indians, meat is a rarity, except on festive occasions—the cow is considered sacred in Hinduism. Fish, fresh milk, and fruits and vegetables, however, are more widely consumed, subject to regional and seasonal availability. In general, tea is the preferred beverage but  coffee is more common in the south.


Don’t wear shoes inside. Don’t point your finger or feet at people. Don't Eat Food or Pass Objects with Your Left Hand

Don't be Offended by Intrusive Questions

The use of "please" and "thank you" are essential for good manners in western culture. However, in India, they can create unnecessary formality and, surprisingly, can even be insulting! While it's fine to thank someone who has provided a service to you, such as a shop assistant or waiter, lavishing thanks on friends or family should be avoided. In India, people view doing things for those whom they are close to as implicit in the relationship. If you thank them, they may see it as a violation of intimacy and the creation of distance that shouldn't exist.

Rather than saying thanks, it's best to show your appreciation in other ways. For example, if you're invited to someone's house for dinner, don't say, "Thank you so much for having me over and cooking for me". Instead, say, "I really enjoyed the food and spending time with you." You will also notice that "please" is used infrequently in India, especially between friends and family. In Hindi, there are three levels of formality -- intimate, familiar and polite -- depending on the form that the verb takes. There is a word for "please" in Hindi (kripya) but it's rarely used and implies doing a favor, again creating an excessive level of formality.

Don't Outright Decline an Invitation or Request

Don't Expect People to be Punctual

Don't Expect People to Respect Your Personal Space

Don't Show Affection in Public

Don't Overlook Your Body Language

Traditionally, women don't touch men in India when meeting and greeting them. A handshake, which is a standard western gesture, can be misinterpreted as something more intimate in India if coming from a woman. The same goes for touching a man, even just briefly on the arm, while speaking to him. While many Indian businessmen are used to shaking hands with women these days, giving a "Namaste" with both palms together is often a better alternative.


Don’t be alone at night. It would be preferable to have a group of 3, one being a male. Don’t be in an isolated place alone with a national or with minors. When traveling on public transportation, stay close to teammates taking care not to get separated from your group. Be on guard. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Look like you know what you’re doing. Be aware of your belongings at all times. Hold your backpack in front of you on public transportation. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself.

Don’t carry a lot of valuables on you (expensive watches, jewelry, phones, computers, cameras, etc.) Put money in several places on you (in a pocket, in a backpack, in a money belt.) Carry a copy of your passport with you at all times. You don’t need to carry your passport every day, but make sure to put it in a safe place. Use common sense. If you’re not sure what is allowed, ask your team leader(s) or missionaries.


Currency: Indian Rupee. Exchange rate: One Dollar = 74 Rupees.

Time Zone: India Standard Time (IST) (12.5 hours ahead of PST)

Electrical Outlets: 220V for India. You will need a Type D plug adapter for charging and devices that automatically convert US 110V to Indian 220V.

Type D Plug Adapter.png


Don't Wear Tight or Revealing Clothing

Indians adopt a very conservative standard of dress, particularly in rural areas. Western dress standards, including jeans on women, are now prevalent in major cities.

However, to be decent, you should keep your legs covered. You'll rarely see a well-dressed Indian man wearing shorts, or an Indian woman wearing a skirt above the ankles (although the beaches of Goa and college students are common exceptions!). Sure, you can do it, and most likely no one will say anything. But first impressions count! There's a common perception in India that foreign women are promiscuous, and wearing inappropriate clothing perpetuates this. You will get more respect by dressing conservatively. Covering your legs and shoulders (and even your head) is especially important when visiting temples in India. Also, avoid wearing strapless tops anywhere. If you do wear a spaghetti strap top, wear a shawl or scarf over it to be modest.

With regard to clothing, MODESTY is of EXTREME importance.  Neither underwear nor midriffs may be shown. And nothing form fitting, guys or gals. No scoop neck/ low necklines for gals. Take your cues from the nationals in the varying situations you find yourself.

Work Clothing: Jeans, “scrubs,” or active wear. Yoga pants are permitted if worn with a long shirt to completely cover the rear. Closed toed, sturdy shoes. T-shirts or basic crew necks. No shorts or sleeveless/tank tops for women. Men may wear shorts. Any writing on shirts should not contain anything offensive, crude, provocative, political or inflammatory.

Casual Clothing: Nicer outfit for outings and excursions, like jeans or capris and a polo shirt or nicer crew neck.

Church/Dining Out: Church: Clean jeans with nice t-shirt or polo shirt and tennis, skate or deck shoes for men. Below knee dress/skirt with t-shirt and flip flops or sandals. Note: we don’t want to “out dress” the locals.