Playing an important role in global trade throughout the centuries, India has a long cultural and commercial history. It is therefore no surprise that this country still exudes an air of fascination that tempts many foreigners to relocate to India.
Today, India is the second-most populous country in the world, a democracy consisting of 29 federal states and seven union territories. It has no national language, but Hindi is the official language. Expats-to-be should not be deterred by their lack of Hindi skills: English, the subsidiary official language, is widely spoken, especially among the educated urban population. It is not only used in business, hospitals, etc., but much important information is also available in English.
The climate you need to prepare for also depends on the part of the country you are planning to live in. While the very north of the country and some highland regions in the northeast have an alpine climate, people in other northern parts will mostly find themselves in subtropical climes. Expatriates moving to India’s southern half can expect a tropical climate. Most of the country experiences heavy rainfall during the monsoon season (June – September).
Expats should consult their embassy in India for health and safety advice before moving to India. While most foreigners encounter no major problems, you should plan your stay well. Terrorist warnings are issued on a regular basis, and people moving to India should be aware of that risk.
Most governments advise against moving to India’s states bordering on Pakistan, especially Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the northeastern regions, for instance, Manipur. Tourists and expats are also asked to keep security considerations in mind when visiting public events or places which attract large international crowds.
Common health risks include: dengue fever, chikungunya (a mosquito-borne tropical fever), malaria, Japanese encephalitis, diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever, rabies, and influenza, as well as hepatitis type A and B. Good precautions against mosquito bites are highly recommended when you move to India.
Standard vaccinations such as DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus), polio, and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) should be redone before moving to India. You should also get immunizations for influenza, pneumococci, typhoid, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, meningitis, and both types of hepatitis.
If you are unsure which vaccinations or preventative medication you need, please consult your family doctor before your departure.
India’s infrastructure and transportation networks might be challenging at first. Roads in urban areas are constantly congested, and driving is chaotic at best. Don’t expect regular public transportation or good connections to hospitals or other facilities in smaller towns or rural areas. While all major Indian cities have some form of public transportation — mainly rickshaws and crowded buses — foreigners often prefer taxis as a means of transportation.
However, traveling by taxi requires a certain degree of local know-how as fares are often haggled over rather than charged according to a taxi meter. Newcomers moving to India should therefore get advice on taxi fares before traveling, or calculate a rough taxi fare in advance, for example at Taxi Autofare.
The romantic image Indian trains may conjure up among some visitors harks back to India’s colonial past. A number of tour operators cash in on this “nostalgia tourism” by offering luxury train journey packages.
Travelling on a regular Indian train can also be an exciting and pleasant experience. People who attach greater importance to the latter should make sure they plan their journey well and book a seat in the first-class compartment. It is more comfortable and less crowded than other cars.
Indian Railways is a government-run enterprise responsible for the complete rail network in the whole country. Information regarding timetables, routes, tickets and reservations can be obtained on the Indian Railways website or at individual stations.
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