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Delhi Guide

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Business Profile: Mumbai may be the financial capital of India and Bangalore her Silicon Valley but Delhi is the seat of government and enjoys a thriving economy. In 2000-01 Delhi's economy grew at a rate of 4.5% and, since 1990-94, has grown faster than the national economy. Annual per capita income in Delhi, estimated at Rs38,864 (about £570), is more than double the national average. Nearly 80% of Delhi's economy is in the so-called tertiary sector, with financial services, insurance, real estate, hotels and restaurants the major contributors.

India's economy has developed significantly, not only since Independence over 50 years ago but also with a decade of reforms under its belt. The economic reforms introduced in the summer of 1991 can, by many measures, be counted a great success. The liberalisation of industry, devaluation of the Rupee and lowering of trade barriers proved a powerful stimulus to the Indian economy. The government is committed to privatisation - the recent sale of part of its stake in Indian Petrochemicals is evidence that the programme is gathering momentum. Inflation has declined from 14% in 1991 to 4% in 2000. Direct foreign investment has, over the period, grown from practically nothing to US$2 billion a year, while unprecedented growth in the software industry now generates exports estimated in 2000 to be worth US$8.3 billion from a standing start in 1990. In 1990, India faced the prospect of defaulting on her foreign debt. She now has reserves of foreign exchange totalling nearly US$40 billion. However, economic growth has now dropped for the second year in a row - it now stands at 6%. The crisis in Kashmir threatens political stability, fiscal equilibrium and inward investment. Meanwhile, the highly publicised scandals, which brought the government of the country virtually to a standstill, rumble on. Despite the advances that have been made, immense problems remain. The economic growth of the 1990s has failed to generate the millions of low-skilled jobs that India needs, while agriculture still accounts for a quarter of GDP, which exposes the national economy unduly to the vagaries of the weather. Both central and state governments suffer from enormous deficits, which in turn hinder their capacity to invest in the nation's infrastructure.  Unemployment also remains high. Exact figures are difficult to come by - the 2001 census released the figures for 'non workers' in India as 62.5% of the population. This is higher in Delhi, at 68.4%. Of these figures, it should be noted that approximately 30% are students and pensioners. Multinationals with a presence in Delhi include Citibank, Standard Chartered and HSBC banks, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Macmillan and Penguin. The central business district of Delhi is around Connaught Place, with secondary commercial hubs at Nehru Place and Rajendra Nagar.Corporate entertaining is an important part of Indian business life, making business lunches and dinners a minefield of potential disasters. The first rule is that Indians eat only with the right hand - the left hand may be used to hold a cup or utensil but would not be used to eat or pass food with in polite society.

Generally, the left hand should be used neither to pass anything nor to point at anyone. Gifts and business cards should be accepted with the right hand or both hands at the same time, as a sign of respect. The other taboo part of the body is the foot. Shoes should be removed when entering a private home and, when sitting, care should be taken to ensure feet are never pointed at anyone. Indians are very conservative when it comes to dress and women should ensure that they are modestly dressed, with legs and shoulders covered. Trousers are acceptable but short skirts can be offensive. Regardless of how hot it gets, men are expected to wear suits and should remember the country's British Raj heritage - Indian businessmen still wear blazers for afternoon drinks and dress for dinner. Visitors invited to the hallowed ground of the Gymkhana club, for instance, should bear in mind that anyone not dressed in a jacket and tie is automatically ruled out (and teetotallers are not much favoured either).It has to be said that New Delhi remains very much attached to the days of the Raj, in more ways than one. The legacy of its political and bureaucratic culture means that business is still conducted according to the rather idiosyncratic Indian Standard Time - the same time zone (GMT + 5.5) applies for all areas of this vast country. Business hours are 0930/1000 to 1730/1800. As in the rest of India, however, Delhi is keen to be hooked up to the online world. Hotels and Internet cafés provide sometimes slow and sporadic connection by satellite, frustrated by the fact that India remains a country where it can be difficult to get a telephone line. Laptops can be used to connect to the Internet but the adapters required for Indian telephone sockets can be hard to come by. For more information on doing business in Delhi

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