India is one of the most populated countries in the world, with Hinduism as a religion of majority of the people. Hinduism, one of the oldest religions in the world, is closely associated to Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

There is no single philosophy or holy book that Hindus follow. India, being the largest democracy in the world has a mixed population of people following different religions like Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism and other; however the majority of population follow Hinduism.

Like every other religion, Hinduism also have a set of ethical values, especially towards issues like Abortion, Animal ethics, Capital punishment, Contraception, Euthanasia and Suicide, Organ donation and War (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/ – accessed on 12 February 2011).

Big population and growing economy have encouraged many multinationals to tap the markets of India. However, there are few Hindu values and beliefs that they should be aware of to build a strong brand loyal consumer base.

There are no clear views on the rights to treat animals in Hinduism, but food-related companies like McDonalds and KFC must know that most Hindus are vegetarian and even the ones who consume meat will not eat beef, as cows are sacred to Hindus. Being a butcher and related job is not allowed by this religion; however some sub-castes do allow it (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/hinduethics/animal.shtml – accessed on 12 February 2011). Hindu mythology exhibits as many as 360 million forms of God, and some forms have animal characteristics like lord Ganesha depicts an elephant and lord hanuman is a monkey. Hence, most Hindus do not abuse animals.

Hindu scriptures include advice on using contraception and there is no ban on birth control (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/hinduethics/contraception.shtml – accessed on 12 February 2011). Hinduism stems from the principle of non-violence and hence does not encourage abortion, which however is considered alright if it risks the mother’s life (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/hinduethics/abortion_1.shtml – accessed on 12 February 2011). This could be an ethical value worth considering for contraception manufacturing companies and global hospitals.

Hindus believe in life after death, and this encourages a Hindu to donate their organs and tissues, but trading them for any kind of benefit is a taboo. It is considered a way of staying alive even after death (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/hinduethics/organdonation.shtml- accessed on 12 February 2011). Again, a value worth noting, for global hospitals.

Though Hindus practice non-violence, it is right to fight in self-defence. It is not appropriate, under any condition to attack a sick, old, child or a woman (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/hinduethics/war.shtml). Yoga, Ayurveda and meditation also have their roots in Hinduism. They are being practiced not only in India but also in other parts of the world. For instance, Krishna-Avanti primary, a state funded Hindu school in North London has meditation on it daily time-table and the day of every student begins with it (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jan/07/first-hindu-free-school-unveils-plans – accessed on – accessed on 12 February 2011).

There are others values too, to this religion, but they are no different than other religions, which includes respecting elders and other fellow-beings. It is important to be aware of these values for anyone trying to build any relationship with people of this community, as it will be a bad beginning if their religious sentiments are hurt or offended.

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I'm an eCommerce Project Director at an agency in London and a consultant for a number of eCommerce start-ups. I founded Think etc 9 years ago which now lets me share my research and experience with all the interesting brands, people, places and projects that I have been privileged to work with. My work on crowdsourcing was published by Oxford as part of a journal article and I have been obsessing over eCommerce and Magento over the past several years.

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