The Indian professional stereotype

I have seen a huge diaspora of Indian professionals across the globe in various capacities. Sterotypical Indians are not a myth but quite a stark reality.  Having grown up and studied my undergrad school in India, I have allowed myself the liberty of sharing my observations and some subtle tips. When someone like me has grown up in India in the 70’s and 80’s, it is truly eye opening to see several myths busted almost on a daily basis.

For those of you that work with junior level professionals from India (most of you probably do), you possibly think of them in a group rather than individuals. You think these kids tend to stick together protecting themselves from some awkward fears? You think these people assume no identity and go on busting their chops like the proverbial oompa-loompas? You think they get a discount at the local 7-11’s?

The first two are fairly closer to the truth. And a lot of it comes with the “safety in numbers” mentality that comes in intrinsically from just being in a “foreign land”. Takes a while to break them, months, years may be. Some of you probably sound like Hollywood stereotypes too and may come off as too brash. So this is where the inter-cultural compromise comes in. And remember talking to them louder and real s-l-o-w ain’t the solution.

Then the age old Indian myth on superiority of race is ingrained, surprisingly still prevalent in many parts of India outside the metro centers. The erroneous notion that fairer.whiter the person the more intelligent he/she is. Indian have their own brand of racism where stores still sell products that will turn you “fair and lovely” or “fair and handsome” , which is an insinuation of the Indian brand of racism. With this rather naive notion in mind, you may see young Indian professionals intimidated by your approach. Its cool, no one means anything malevolent. Again inter-culture boundaries need breaching to reach across and make them feel belonged.

Trust me, the level of intelligence and diligence seen in several of these entrants (FOB kids) is some kind of a rare commodity. Nurture it well without sense of exploitation or looking down upon them. I have seen the “looking down upon” approach especially to young engineers that just do not dress or appear to be savvy looking.

For you Indian kids, I’ll say this- Work speaks for itself. Do not be intimidated by other people and just because they speak better English does not make them superior. In fact your English is way better than their Hindi, that I can safely say. Assimilate well when you travel overseas and do not be a wildebeest, be a stand out person and performer. Trust me, this will go a long way.


Author: Ashok Iyengar

A published author and a Project Management professional I love to travel, mentor and network. Writing my travelogues, commentaries on political and social issues I create meaningful conglomerations between the west and east. I live in the Washington DC metro area. Just started a new journey with assisting teaching Project Management classes at GWU, Washington DC

3 thoughts on “The Indian professional stereotype”

  1. Very true and very sad about Indian racism- a more accurate term for it would be internalized white supremacy. Astute observations and compassionate suggestions.


  2. Very sad and true about Indian racism- or more accurately, internalized white supremacy. It’s a blight on our culture. Very compassionate perspective here.


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