India is a very complex society. It is difficult to make any universal or overarching statements about its social and cultural aspects without taking into consideration their fluid and dynamic nature. The geographical multiplicity present in India translates to a set of vibrant regional traditions and cultures that easily become the celebrated identities of the people. With the bright colours of ethnicity, and the love for spices,atrangi achar and local delicacies of different regions, India isas much a place of delight as much a hub of chaos.
With the explicit aim of providing an easily accessible guide to help themunderstand the core dynamics of India as a complex socio-culturalnation, the Nordic Centre in India has designed an Orientation Package for students, researchers, and staff of member universities travelling to India for the first time. Keeping in mind the unique culture of Indiawhich is substantially different from the Nordic region,this orientation booklet aims to sensitize students to the same while alsoproviding suggestions that could make their stay in India morecomfortable. The booklet covers a wide array of topics and is divided into two parts–Part A comprising regulatory provisions (relating to visa and FRRO registration) determining their stay as wellas practical and cultural themes covered in Part B.
For accessing a PDF of this orientation document, please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “NCI Orientation Package.”
Please note that the orientation document–Gateway to India and the information therein is for general informationpurposes only and is provided in good faith, withoutmaking any particular claims to be wholly representative ofIndia and its culture. India is too complex a society tomake any kind of universal statements in the manner of anintroduction, and all statements made can easily be seen asa poor caricature of the complex reality. While apologizingfor the reductionist approach in this text, we also feel thatthere is a need for a document like this for people who arecompletely new to India and who are unfamiliar with itscomplexities and nuances.
The information provided is merely indicative and notprescriptive; under no circumstance shall NCI have anyliability for any loss or damage for any discrepanciesherewith. Any such loss incurred will solely be at the risk of user.
This checklist—produced in joint collaboration with the Nordic Centre in India (NCI) and ICMPD, with strategic inputs from the Association of Indian Universities (AIU)—aims to assist students coming to India from the European Union in finding answers touseful questions in preparation for each step of theprocess i.e., preparatory phase, pre-departure phase andpost-arrival phase, through free and reliable resources.
It aims to guide students with the necessary tips and adviceto navigate through the various challenges commonlyassociated with student mobility to India, from the EuropeanUnion, that include, but are not limited to:
As an addition to the Orientation Document, the Nordic Centre in India has also created a set of eleven videos detailing practical and socio-cultural aspects of India for first-time visitors. As mentioned, the information provided in the videos are merely indicative and not prescriptive, and is an honest attempt to provide information without making any particular claims to be wholly representative of India and its culture.
To access the entire playlist on YouTube, click here.
1. Handling Money in India | India Beckons
This video gives a basic overview on questions concerning accessibility, transferability, and bank related processes in India. The handling of money has undergone various changes, with E-wallets and UPI payment systems available even in the remotest of towns, thus, obliterating the necessity of carrying wads of cash on the person while travelling.
2. Food Allergies in India | India Beckons
For most people who visit India for the first time, the variegated options available in food is often offset by allergies. This video is an attempt to talk about the common allergies associated with food in India, and their remedies.
3. Domestic Travel in India | India Beckons
This video is an attempt to accustom visitors to the various modes of transportations available in India for domestic travel, and important information related to booking, baggage, and travel. Other than public transport services, big cities in India are also serviced by global transport services like Uber etc.
4. Culture of Healthcare in India | India Beckons
To classify 'hospitals' in India as a single category would be a gross oversimplification, since in reality it encompasses a wide range of facilities ranging from community health centers to multi-specialty hospitals. The distribution of these facilities is disproportionate, with rural areas being mostly dependent on government run health centers, will urbane areas boast hospitals with modern infrastructure. This video is showcasing this information for the use of newcomers to India to give them an idea on the culture of healthcare in India.
5. Common Ailments in India | India Beckons
Keeping the safety, wellbeing, and health of visiting students to India in mind, this video is a precautionary measure to explicate on the various types of common ailments prevalent in India, and the easiest remedies for the same.
6. Local Travel in India | India Beckons
One interesting aspect of local travel in India is that one can go from one place to another using a wide range of transport systems, each entailing a different kind of experience. Most of these modes of transport are reliable and offer opportunities of sight-seeing (the metro rails in metropolitan cities in India being an example). This video presents a few points to keep in mind while using public and other means of transport in India.
7. Alcohol in India | India Beckons
This video is a short description on the practices and traditions related to alcohol and its consumption in India. Although India possesses a vibrant history in brewing alcohol and related substances that goes back to thousands of years, in generic society in India today, alcohol consumption is viewed with a certain taboo, and there are certain gender restrictions that this video hints upon.
8. Tobacco in India | India Beckons
The history of tobacco smoking in India dates back to the 17th century. However, since that time, the culture of smoking (or chewing tobacco) has undergone many changes due to the introduction of various regulatory laws and other socio-cultural factors. This video is a basic introduction to the different patterns of tobacco consumption existent in India.
9. Do's and Dont's - Travelling in India | India Beckons
The excitement of embarking on a new journey is often offset by the anxiety that surrounds in navigating and maneuvering one's way through a new country. More so in India where the intermingling of a plethora of cultures and languages is bound to make one more anxious. This video points out some challenges and provides hints on how to approach travel in India with caution and prudence.
10. Alternative Medicine in India | India Beckons
The aim of this video is to provide an entry-level introduction of alternative medicinal practices in India, including Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha Vaidya, and Homeopathy. All these practices are prevalent in India to this day, with the Indian government playing the role of an important stakeholder. Ayurvedic practitioners in India date back to the 1st and 4th centuries C.E., with Yoga playing an important part in the same.
11. Drugs in India | India Beckons
Consumption of synthetic and plant-based drugs in India is illegal. However, they are illicitly made available in the marketplace. Here are some tips on how to navigate around questions of law, availability of drugs, and addiction.