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NEW DELHI—After several weeks studying the selling points of photocopiers, printers and scanners, Surej Pillai scribbled notes as he digested another key business lesson — the importance of chewing his food with his mouth closed.
On a recent weekday morning in New Delhi, 28-year-old Pillai was participating alongside seven colleagues in a business etiquette class organized by the Japanese electronics company Canon for newly hired marketing executives.
“Remember, when you talk while you eat more air comes in, and it’s a scientific fact that makes you burp. That’s rude,” lectured Deepti Sharma, an instructor at the Pria Warrick Finishing Academy, which has provided training for a host of Indian companies.
From an economic standpoint, there’s little arguing that India has come of age. Its economy is roaring at an enviable 9 per cent clip and companies based here are widening their influence throughout the world.
Yet executives fear some young professionals are ill prepared for their country’s expansion because India’s education system places such a priority on academics over embracing social graces. They worry that lack of awareness of western manners could lead to an inappropriate action or déclassé remark that, in some extreme cases, could even sideline future business.
So a rapidly increasing number of companies are sending employees to Warrick and other etiquette experts to learn everything from the proper business handshake and dining etiquette to dressing for success and recovering if you forget someone’s name during a business meeting.
According to some estimates, more than half of the India’s three million college graduates attend finishing schools. Warrick is widely known here as India’s Miss Manners. In 2004, she hosted a reality show called “Indian Hospitality School,” working to transform four British slobs who travelled to New Delhi for a few weeks.
“In India we have such technical expertise, but when it comes to manners we take a back seat,” said Warric