Indians are conservative, curious and women are expected to dress modestly to avoid sexual harassment. This is the advice given by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to all its delegates visiting India for the annual meeting beginning here today.

The elaborate advisory comes at a time when spate of rape cases are reported from across the country. There have also been incidents of foreign travellers being molested and harassed.

The advisory also suggests that delegates stay away from public display of affection. “Kissing and embracing are regarded in India as part of sex: do not do them in public. It is not even a good idea for couples to hold hands,” the ADB advisory read.

“Women are expected to dress modestly, with legs and shoulders covered. Trousers are acceptable, but shorts and short skirts are offensive to many. Men should always wear a shirt in public, and avoid shorts away from beach areas...

“Indians find it hard to understand why rich Western sahibs should wander round in ragged clothes or imitate the lowest ranks of Indian society, who would love to have something more decent to wear.

“Staying well groomed and dressing “respectably” vastly improves the impression you make on local people, and reduces sexual harassment too.”

The meeting of the ADB is expected to be attended by 4,400 delegates from over 60 countries. The four-day conference which will have high level officials from Asia and the Pacific along with industry leaders will join other delegates to discuss a range of topics central to the region’s sustainable growth and development.

The information provided further advised that when “eating or drinking lips should not touch other people’s food — jutha or sullied food is strictly taboo.

“When drinking out of a cup or bottle to be shared with others, don’t let it touch your lips, but rather pour it directly into your mouth. This custom also protects you from things like hepatitis“.

It also said Indians were generally “curious” and family, job, even income, were not considered “personal” subjects.

“It is completely normal to ask people about them. Asking the same questions back will not be taken amiss — far from it.

Being curious does not have the “nosey” stigma in India that it has in the West,” it said.

(This article was published on May 2, 2013)
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