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Why Do Indians Tell So Many Lies?

Why Do Indians Tell So Many Lies?

January 04, 2013
In India, no one likes to say NO outright, especially to a guest.

One of the more commonly questions asked of me by women who travel in India is “Why do people tell lies here?” From little white lies to big fat porkies, from misinformation to outright bullshit, lying does not rate on the list of sins for the average Indian. In fact lying is not considered lying at all but embellishment.

Consider it sweetener or spice; it’s an attempt to disguise the sawdust taste of the bald truth. Indians seek the ultimate Truth and small daily truths are often just too unpleasant to deal with so they sensibly ignore them until they go away (such as Governments) make up a different versions of reality (Yes, yes no problem Madam) or ‘lie’. Saints and sages, rishis and kings have meditated in high Himalayan caves, sat immobile in snowdrifts, stood on one leg for hundreds of years and undergone all sorts of tapasa in order to be granted even one peek into the truth of reality. Now these are pretty heavy duty spiritual guys with access to all the right mantra and still it took them years, lifetimes to reach the truth. Here truth we seek is mystical, fantastical, poetic and mutable. Truth is debatable while we are still in a state of enquiry; we debate the truth endlessly throwing holy wisdom quotes at each other with the aim being to reach a higher level of enquiry rather than the absolute truth. Then there is the cultural imperative of lying. It’s not nice to refuse a request anywhere in Asia or India, no one likes to say NO outright, especially to a guest. So if you ask a straight question expecting a straight answer, if the straight answer is negative they will not say so. Instead you get a slight pause in the conversational exchange as they politely sidestep the black hole of reality. You know they are side stepping because their eyes will dart off to the lying side of the brain and out will come the answer they think you want to hear.

In a land where even fast food happens slowly, lying is also considered a bit of Time Pass, mild entertainment that engages the senses while you wait endlessly. It’s a reason I love India, this amazing ability the people have of being able to step straight into any story and ham it up to the full. No story teller worth his or her audience lets truth get in the way of a good story; it’s just a building block to what happens next.

Sometimes lies just slip out as a way of continuing a conversation with someone met on the road. It happened to me one day that I was impelled to lie to a small boy from Gujarat who was on holiday with his grandma and thrilled to be talking to a foreigner. I was thrilled that he knew where New Zealand was and so to up the anti of excitement at our newly minted connection I LIED and told him that the captain of the New Zealand cricket team was my cousin brother! I looked at his shining face, eager brown eyes and Colgate smile and saw the kid back in his dusty village school round telling and retelling this story until it grew to the size and shape of his dream version of reality. I have to say I got a buzz from it too! Now I repeat it every now and then in different places in India and get a very warm response. I lie not for lying’s sake but to deepen the thrill of connection which is why I travel in the first place.

It’s frustrating at times and maddening at worst to be stood in front of a bare faced liar but please don’t take it personally, we are only telling you stories.


  • Helen
    17.02.16 05:23 AM
    When I was in India everyone lied and cheated. When I asked why they are so dishonest, he just laughed and put a cigar in his mouth like he was a big man. He stopped laughing when I had him thrown out of Hong Kong. He called me and said he couldn't sleep all night because he was deported. It was my time to laugh.
  • Covert Harris
    Covert Harris
    23.01.16 08:03 PM
    Indian for a day. I was at a business conference. After hours of lectures and exercises the bosses still subjected us to an inane team building exercise in the cafeteria before we could eat. A crew was hired to administer this intergalactic mission thing, where teams working with clues would come up with some answer. I had an Indian and Black attorney in my group. The Indian said he knew how to sneak a peek at the answer. Only an Indian would have figured that out. I thought the attorney would object, but she was exhausted, too. He did and we raised our hands with the answer. The moderator said it was the quickest any team had ever figured it out, and we won a prize, and could quit and eat.
  • Will
    02.01.16 05:20 PM
    Indians are lousy characters! They enjoy cheating and lying because it makes them feel good to lie and cheat others, they feel they have won a price or something when they lie and cheat others. It's their culture to be dishonest and pretend to be honest by lying and lying continuously. Each time they lie, they laugh in their hearts at the person they lie to for having successfully cheated that person. They feel satisfied by cheating and lying to others. There's no lousier character in this world than Indians. Be careful at all times. Put up your guards at all times. If at all possible, avoid Indians and walk away when you encounter an Indian. NEVER have anything to do with Indians and you will sleep better and have your peace of mind.
  • Marie
    25.08.15 04:49 AM
    Indians have never told me the truth. They are so arrogant and if you let them in your house after you have known them for months, they will push you down on your carpet and try to rape you. I think they are pigs. They also murder their wives much more than any other country. An Indian man just killed his wife in Hanover, Maryland at Dunkin Donuts where they both worked. Also, another Indian and his mother killed his wife after she bore him two sons. Indians make me feel ill, so when I see one at the store I spit on them.
  • An American
    An American
    12.02.15 01:55 AM
    And they will continue to lie to the point of being delusional! Look at the post from this clown:

    26.08.14 03:41 AM
    (3rd post down from top).

    They'll ALWAYS find a way to conjure up fake stories. None of the things he/she claimed on the list are true.
  • margi
    09.02.15 07:37 PM
    Dianne, I absolutely disagree with your romanticising the Indian 'Lying' habit. It can have extremely sinister consequesnces and we need to prevent their habit to be acceptable in the workplace at all cost.
    I work with lots of Indian Doctors and Nurses in a critical care setting. They continue to lie about having done a particular task for fear of being found out that either they forgot to do oit, or worse; that they do not know how to do it. The consequence in a life and death situation can be fatal. Mistakes and epic disasters are either occurring or narrowly being avoided when it is found out that to save face they are lying continously.
    I am speaking of 34 years experience in working with Indian 'professionals', and whilst some may find this unpleasant trait endearing, I find it alarming with possible sinister outcomes.
  • Anne trophy
    Anne trophy
    04.02.15 07:10 AM
    ....and I thought only the Indians I have met are liars. Thank you for pointing out it's genetic. Now I know where my daughter got it from: HER FATHER'S side of the family. Poor girl...
  • 26.08.14 03:41 AM


    When we greet one another,
    we foId our hands in namastey...

    because we beIieve...

    that God resides in the heart
    of every human being.

    We come from a nation where we aIIow
    a Iady of CathoIic origin...

    to step aside for a Sikh
    to be sworn in as Prime Minister...

    to a MusIim President to govern
    a nation of over 80 percent Hindus.

    It may aIso interest you
    to know that...

    many of the origins to your words
    come from Sanskrit.

    For exampIe,
    maatr becomes mother...

    bhratr becomes brother,
    giamiti becomes geometry

    trikonniti becomes trigonometry.

    We have 5600 newspapers...

    magazines in over twenty-one
    different Ianguages...

    with a combined readership
    of over 120 miIIion.

    We have reached the moon and back,
    but yet...

    you people still feel that we've onIy
    reached as far as the Indian rope trick

    We are the third largest pool in the word
    of doctors, engineers
    and scientists.

    Maybe your grandfather
    didn't teII you that...

    we have the third Iargest army
    in the worId.

    And even then, I foId my hands
    in humiIity before you...

    because we don't beIieve we are
    above or beneath any individuaI.


  • Sick_of_indians
    23.08.14 07:30 PM
    Indians are the most disgusting horrible people in the world - yes this is the reality of Indians which most people dont know. Everyone thinks Indians are peaceful and harmless, when in fact they are the most filthy, corrupt, violent, angry, hate filled. Jealous, dishonest, nasty people on this planet. I have spent a lot of time all over the world, in western and eastern europe, america, thailand, singapore, middle east etc....and never have i come across people worse than Indians....they are truly horrible. Even if u make an Indian friend they will lie about their entire life and many other must be in their blood maybe and the worst part is they are very dysfunctional as a society, very greedy, very money hungry even if they have a lot of money and very sick minded people. I really do not want to interact with any indians again, i cant go into the bad experiences ive had with indians but now ive had enough, they are very bad people and impossible to deal with. Maybe they s are forced to become bad because india is the most disgusting dirty country in the world...when the quality of life is so low, government totally useless and a system corrupt to the core then what else can u expect the people to be like?
  • sef
    10.08.14 11:25 PM
    I've been to India many many times, it's ok to tell little white lies from time to time the type of lies that make a story just that little bit more exciting, in Europe for example a person may tell you he drank 3 beers but in fact he had 5, no harm done, but in India the lies are endless it seems like the people get pleasure from fooling you, the frequency of the lies is disgusting, it's the reason I hate the country not love it, the worst type of person is a liar you cannot be trusted especially a compulsive liar like the majority of Indian people, and as for you Dianne think about this, what if one day that little boy found out that you where not in fact related to the captain of the New Zealand cricket team, how crushing would it be to him, his heart would be broken and most likely he would dispise you, he would have gone home and told everyone who he met, and you know how much Indians love there cricket and now he would feel like an idiot for believing you, he would also loose trust in any foreigner that he ever met again, your post is good but I don't think you realise the true effect of lies no matter how serious they are that's why liars are so hated in the world, I think you need to rethink your ideas.
  • Sai Prasad
    Sai Prasad
    05.06.13 12:56 AM
    I dont like Lieing too. I hate when people lie to me. Even with Indians when I tell the truth, although its harsh they appreciate truth more than lies.
  • Rajpriya
    17.05.13 12:25 AM

    See where they get their tips from:
  • Yauheni
    16.05.13 01:09 PM
    That's true. I live in CA. According its population CA is almost India so far. So I have met many of indian gays. 90% of them are incredible liars. And it is 100% in case of resume or work experiense. Even if you bring them to light, they continue to lie without any shy. And u k what, they call it "to be smart". I see it every day. fed up
  • Liz
    29.04.13 03:33 PM
    And one more thing, what Ania experienced, to be let down a day before her departure to India was cruel and cowardly.
    To fob this off as a result if the culture of arranged marriage is to cruelly minimise the harm caused by such serious lying.
    I know a woman who committed suicide in South Africa after a similar Nigerian "Romance" scam. (Google Jetta Jacobs if you don't believe this! She was from Australia, and it was reported in the news.)
    Some lies have very serious outcomes indeed, and that is why most religions and cultures value truth and honesty.
    Without truth and honesty, genuine trust cannot develop. And without confronting ourselves honestly, we cannot develop a sound basis of integrity in our lives.
    Sorry to spoil the party, but lying hurts others, and thats why it's not just harmless entertainment in its worst forms.
  • Liz
    29.04.13 03:25 PM
    Not all lies are benign and harmless. I had an Indian boss in Australia, a professionally qualified person, who frequently lied, often to put others down.
    I later found out some of the qualifications (letters after his name) were faked. Even when confronted about this, he continued to lie.
    I am not saying Australians do not lie, and the same thing could not have happened with an Australian. However, the comfort that he had with lying, and at times the very obvious lies he told, were, in my experience, unusual in an educated person.
    And I have wondered if this was because of the cultural acceptability of lying, and avoidance of frankness that may be part of Indian culture. (Not totally BAD, I agree, but it does undermine trust, if you are not used to it.)
  • Dianne
    12.03.13 08:12 AM
    Harry I don"t have a problem with either, I am simply stating a fact OFTEN marriages are arranged I said.
    12.03.13 12:30 AM
    @ Dianne

    People do also marry for love too as well and not all the marriages are arranged. And what is wrong with arranged marriage?

  • Dianne
    11.03.13 05:59 PM
    Hello Ania
    I am sorry for your troubles.In India people marry for reasons of family and duty and not for romantic love as in the West and rest of the world. Often these marriages are arranged by the family.
    This is not to say that the fellow did not feel a deep attachment to you but that his sense of duty to his family was deeper.
  • Ania
    11.03.13 05:02 PM
    Hi Dianne and thanks for your great post which i read that many times
    even though I didnt receive my answer yet.
    initially may it seems that Indians tell lie to avoid saying a blunt "NO" n may it comes out of their culture but its not always same.
    I had an indian boy friend last year. we met thru internet n web cam n found each other suitable.. even once he talked with my mom n he was always ready to help me... sometimes he used to call me 4 hours a day as we live in two different countries.
    we really had enjoyable moments based on a very high dignity and respect he never abuse me for having sex or money..
    but ! exactly the day before my departure to India n when i was on cloud nine who i was going to meet him in real eventually, he sent me an email n told that he had met a girl n he's going to marry with her n shocked me n my family as well.
    as much that still after 8 months i am wonder what has happened to him to tell me such a big lie.
    he never send me other mail n never contact me again.
    some of my friends who live in india tell me that he was a fake and just wanted to cheat me
    but thats not acceptable to me at any cost..
    why n for which reason some one should tell such a big lie or want to play with other one's life??
    just for having fun and killing time??
    while he was very busy person n had great responsibility in one of those big indian's company..
    how you explain such an answer please?
  • Bex
    22.01.13 02:16 AM
    It's sad you don't care about the truth and I wouldn't want you as my friend if you're proud and happy to lie - that really is the truth.
  • Dianne
    11.01.13 02:54 PM
    Thanks for your comments rajPriya!
  • Qwerty
    09.01.13 10:16 AM
    Great post! Makes me accept myself better

    @rajpriya : loved your comment
    08.01.13 08:56 PM
    @ Dianne

    That's good one. I will try this next time as well. I think You need to write him (DV) a letter and see what he says, you never know if you don't try. :)


    PS Don't forget to tell him the story. Have a good one from a Brit to a Kiwi. :)
  • Dianne
    07.01.13 02:59 PM
    @Harry! That just shows how much I know about cricket!! I did write to the cricket association in New Zealand to say that I was telling tales in India about Daniel and that everyone thought he was a lovely guy! Anyway its a well known fact that if you put two kiwis into a room for three minutes they will discover that they are related! I just need three minutes with Daniel and it's all good!
  • American Punjaban PI
    American Punjaban PI
    05.01.13 05:03 AM
    Great post. This has been one of the hardest things for me to adjust to when it comes to India. The truth may be a little difficult to say but in the long run, I feel it's always better to tell it anyway.
    05.01.13 12:50 AM
    @ Dianne

    I should have said beautifully written after ps. And you hit the nail on the head when it comes to Indians. I hate touch screen stuff, it's got a mind of it's own. Nice one.
    05.01.13 12:45 AM
    @ Dianne

    How could you women, when that boy finds out that kiwi captain is the only child and doesn't have any cousin then he will be devastated that you told him porky. Don't you know cricket is a religion in India. Ohh well he will learn hard ways. :)


    PS Buitifully
  • Rajpriya
    04.01.13 11:44 AM
    The Truth about Lying. We all do it all the time according German Psychologist Robert Feldman. We do it more often than we would normally admit. Saying things we really don’t mean is an everyday routine for all of us and of course most of us very honestly don’t have any bad intentions doing so.

    Simply put every human being is a liar. People don’t say things that are not true hundreds of times a day but often. German Psychologist Robert Feldman in his research found that during a ten minute talk people lied three times and some as much as twelve times.

    He says lies are usually not planned, as we might tend to think. Many people had lied about their age at least once. Many people have made others believe they were younger or even older for reasons best known only to them as and when a particular situation demanded.

    He continues to say many young people exaggerated the amount of alcohol they could consume and older people made out their drinking habits sound harmless. These lies are known as cosmetic lies says the Psychologist.

    The expert also says some people invent a lie to impress someone to relate an embarrassing experience in a less serious form in way to suppress their insecurity. We pay false compliments to people to be liked by them.

    People say their daughter looks beautiful in that dress or their son looks very smart in his new suit. These are sometimes false compliments that are motivated by sincere thoughts to please someone and not hurt his or her feelings.

    If we were to stick to the truth we would find ourselves in plenty of trouble every day. People would avoid talking to us or worse hate us for speaking the truth. Most of us in fact do not want to hear the truth by default.

    You have asked many times, “How are you”? When you meet friends or relations. The answers you get may be far from the truth. More often these questions are meant to start a conversation and not really care about the truth in the replies you get.

    But thank God no one really retorts we are lying because they don’t suspect us of lying. On the other hand when someone says you are looking great why would I want to disagree because isn’t that what I want to hear people say about me?

    In other words we lie to each other all the time but “Is It Not The Best Way to Move in Life with out hurting each other”?

    Watch yourself and you will be surprised how often you are lying. Ssshhh! Keep it to yourself.

    There are many interpretations to what a lie means. Lie - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Roy
    04.01.13 10:35 AM
    Good one. Even I find it difficult to say NO, response is almost similar to what u explained.
    Just one thing, why posts from NRI has decreased. Before it was like one every next day and I think I m reading this after 1 month or so. Pls keep ask ur writers to keep writing regularly.
  • Rasana Atreya
    Rasana Atreya
    04.01.13 10:00 AM
    Interesting take on things! I don't like to tell lies, so I write stories. Same difference. :-)

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