On my recent trip to India, I had a great chance to check out some of the local rides. Everything I saw on the street was of the vintage variety. Most of these bikes had (what I learned are called) rod brakes:
Rod brake example
These are some durable, simple brakes. Perfect for riding in a city like Hyderabad. After I went to this mall with some cricket batting cages, we went to a store and checked out new bikes for sale. This was a big box-type store that had what you'd expect in bike selection:
Bikes for sale!
These bikes were on par with what you'd find at a Wal-Mart or a Target. Low end Shimano shifters, 8 speed index shifting.
The nicest bike was 16,790 Rupees - don't get excited yet, that's about $250. It was decent for the price, and would be perfect for riding in a place with rough road conditions and unpredictable traffic.
Overall, the bikes I saw were very utility, great for getting around and not spending a ton of money. It would be interesting to go to a dedicated bike shop and see what the high end brands look like... maybe on my next trip!