Walk down any street in Bangalore, India -- if you don't require a wide swath of personal space -- and you will hear practically every language from around the world. But you may have to listen hard because the traffic noise is tremendous and very difficult to get used to.
It's not particularly a pretty city. Rather, it's like a typical American suburban town where the roadsides are filled with Pizza Huts, Mickey Ds, and the whole gamut of fast-food emporiums.
Regionally, Bangalore has historically been the Silicon Valley of India, says Rajul Garg, vice president of people and corporate development at GlobalLogic, though other regions such as Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai all have a substantial technology workforce.
[ Use InfoWorld's interactive map to learn about 12 hot cities and 6 regions you should consider for tech jobs abroad. If you're thinking generally about India, learn more about India itself and its other tech hot spot, New Delhi. ]
What's hot: India has a paucity of specialized and experienced technicians and managers. Thus, they command high salaries comparable to what they would make in the United States.
According to Garg, the most exciting new trend is the rise of small to medium-size software companies innovating in India as well. It could be an Internet startup that establishes its own 20-person captive operation, says Garg -- a startup more often than not housed inside a global R&D provider like GlobalLogic. "These are truly the hot jobs since they offer the excitement of true product innovation combined with cutting-edge technology work," he says.
Foreigners, especially Americans, are attractive to Indian companies because they have great language skills and an acute sensitivity to the client point of view and customer service. In addition, says Garg, they have the domain skills India needs. If, for example, a company wants to build a health club, a local programmer may not have the kind of experience to understand that business.
Domain skills are at a premium, in other words. Other skills that are a real plus at the moment is a knowledge of Ruby, mobile technology, and streaming media.
U.S. and multinational tech companies: All the major software companies are in Bangalore, and companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Adobe have R&D centers there as well. In addition, the largest consulting firms have set up shop, including home-grown giants like Tata Consulting Services, Infosys, and Wipro, as well as American firms Accenture, Bearing Point, IBM Global Services, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Red tape: You can't just come as a tourist and expect to get a job; a work permit is required. But the process of getting one is trivial. "If you were to show up on a tourist visa and say you are looking for a job, we would fix the rest," says Garg. Still, the paperwork will be easier if you can say you are filling a specific position for a named company.
Permits can be submitted by the applicant to the Indian embassy in his home country, by an Indian company offering a position, or as an intracompany transfer by an employee of a foreign company who needs to be transferred to an Indian branch.
Immediate family members are permitted to join the applicant while living in India.
Language: The language of business in India is English. Those on a work permit are not expected to know any of the dozens of local languages and dialects such as Hindi, Punjabi, and Tamil. "In a country as diverse as India, speaking English is the only way a northerner can talk to somebody in the south," says Garg.
Financials: Salaries are continually on the rise in all of India for high tech. However, the range is great, with some locals making the equivalent of only $5,000, while some ex-pats in a senior-level position earn as much as $100,000. "There is a 20-fold variation in salaries in India compared to a 4- or 5-fold variation in the States," says Garg.
But Bangalore, like New Delhi, can be an expensive city, and it is best if the company you work for provides a housing stipend. Some companies also supply a driver and a car.
In Bangalore, a two-bedroom furnished apartment will run about $450. A loaf of bread costs 53 cents, a Coke $1.23, a local beer 59 cents, a cell phone $63, and a pair of men's shoes $22.
Family: Despite the noise, the size, and the hubbub, Bangalore is a family-friendly place, says Sangeeta Gupta, a partner in Gupta Consulting Group, which consults on doing business on an international level.
Schools in India are excellent across the board. Bangalore has a competitive spirit when it comes to education, with students vying for the best spots. Hard work and academics are stressed, and that attitude will be felt by ex-pat families as well. "In India in general, the parents' life revolves around the children's education," says Gupta.
Daily life and culture: The business culture of India is different than in the United States. For example, when you are giving feedback in the United States, it is very direct. That doesn't work in Bangalore or India, says Gupta. "You have to give an indirect criticism, so a person doesn't lose face. And you would lose face also."
Socially, Indian companies have a more formal communications style than in the States. "In the U.S., I am Sangeeta. In India, they will call me Dr. Gupta."
While flip-flops and shorts might be OK in San Francisco and Los Angeles., they are not appropriate in India. "Grown men don't wear shorts."
But the people are warm and welcoming, Gupta adds. And they will never say anything to offend a guest in their country.a