The Indian work culture is immensely diverse. There are major differences depending on whether you work for small, local companies, for big Indian corporations or for international companies. Business practices also vary between regions.
Work practices in India
The importance of hierarchies in Indian culture can also be witnessed in the daily work environment. People of different management levels are treated differently. The behaviour of superiors towards other employees seems very rude from a Western point of view. This is normal in India. . Even though that might make you feel uncomfortable at first, you need to adapt to this as otherwise employees of lower hierarchy levels will try to take advantage of your kindness. They might treat you extra nice but then expect favours in return, such as help in getting a job in the West.
Communication within Indian companies is something many expatriates have trouble getting used to. Unlike rather relaxed business dinners, formality plays an important role in Indian work environment and instructions are direct (to the point of seeming bossy). It is also highly unlikely that you will address you co-workers with their first names.
Salaries in India
Average salaries in India are only a fraction of Western salaries. However, they are rising at rates between 12 and 14 percent each year. Expatriates usually earn significantly higher salaries than Indians, though this depends on whether they work for Indian or international companies.
Indian salaries are stated in lakhs, increments of hundreds of thousands. This is confusing at first, but is ultimately much easier to handle than millions of Rupees.
If you are appointed to India by your company from overseas your salary will usually be at a Western level. You will also be provided with the full list of benefits available to employees in Europe or the USA, and your salary will be three times that of your local counterpart.
In addition to salary and standard benefits, international companies often provide special expatriate allowances, such as housing allowance, three to five weeks paid vacation, a round trip air ticket per year, full healthcare coverage etc.
If you work for an Indian company, the situation changes dramatically. Your salary will be significantly lower. Even though you still earn more than your Indian colleagues, you will never reach Western levels.
Most importantly, Indian companies usually do not offer the fancy expat benefits provided by international companies. However, fringe benefits are an important part of every Indians pay check and can account to up to 50% of the actual salary. Since fringe benefits are taxed at a lower rate than regular income (Fringe Benefit Tax, FBT) they are commonly used to reduce the required tax payments. Typical benefits include paid vacation, sick leave, health insurance and maternity leave. Depending on your job and qualification the amount of healthcare benefits varies greatly but will usually be around Rs10,000 a month.
Vacation in India
There are 15 to 20 paid public holidays, depending on where you work in India. Indian employees will additionally get a minimum of 12 days paid vacation. Expatriates are usually entitled to 18 to 30 days of paid vacation a year. Make sure that these regulations about extra vacation days are explicitly stated in your employment contract.