CQ India – The Hindu Mind: A Snapshot

Hinduism is a way of life, a living tradition with a deep cultural and spiritual heritage. It is not static like the Abrahamic faiths with their cupola of prophets and unmalleable commandments. Hinduism does not have edicts on what is right or wrong; there are no ever-ready prescriptions that prescribe this or that action. It is up to its adherents to make judgments about their day-to-day conduct and then face the consequences (Karma).

The sheer diversity and complexity of Hindu thought make it difficult for those outside its cultural firmament, particularly those subscribed to a linear way of thinking with inflexible ‘moral’ parameters, to understand the lateral Hindu mind.

In my CQ workshops on doing business in India, I do not dwell on the multiple intricacies of the Hindu mind, which would be impossible to cover in the limited time frame available in a professional setting. Instead, I focus on this minimalist, skeletal snapshot which is directly relevant to doing business in India.


    1. The Hindu mind is lateral

      • It is not linear like the Western rationalist mind. It is not schematic like the Sino- spheric mind.

    1.  Therefore, it has no Centre, a sum of dictums to which personal and professional dilemmas can be appealed.

      • Any moral issue invites consideration of several compartmentalised (and often contradictory) strands of beliefs and values.
      • It is not focused, and is susceptible to distractions involving multiple factors ranging from family to spirituality to materialistic considerations.

3. Therefore, it more readily reacts to discrete events than to trends.

  • Inevitably, multiple events and consequent tasks crowd the Hindu mind, inhibiting it from seeing the bigger picture.

4. Therefore, it is biased towards devising short-term tactical solutions to problems. This innate predisposition discourages a long-term                 strategic approach.

5. Therefore, the Hindu mind excels at resolving discrete urgent problems through spontaneous jugaad, hack-driven solutions

  •  Thus, it is invariably at its best when pushed into a corner, whether on the battlefield or in a IT maze or faced with a political/economic crisis.

6. Therefore, the societal bias is towards individualistic action rather than a collectivist reaction

  • Arguably, the Hindu mind is one of the most individualistic (and argumentative) among the major Earthian Cultural Clusters

7. Therefore, the democratic impulse is the default social and political ideological bent of the Hindu/Indian mind.


The key challenge for Western managers doing business in India is to bridge the gap between the more individualistic, lateral mindset of the Indian staff and the typically linear, collectivist/teamwork approach in Western management styles.

Understanding and adapting to these cultural differences can facilitate better communication, collaboration, and overall business success in India. Such analysis also underscores the importance of cultural intelligence (CQ) in navigating the complexities of global business interactions.