Companies such as Whirlpool of India say they can't plan more than a couple of months ahead as a fast-falling rupee drives up the cost of imports, forcing them to raise prices even while consumer spending crumbles.
The timing is particularly tough for consumer companies that were counting on India's September-to-December holiday season to spur sales. Shoppers, who helped see the country through the global financial crisis in 2008, are closing their wallets, squeezing companies that make everything from automakers to shampoo.
Those that import finished goods or raw materials are the worst hit as they scramble to hold onto margins and balance the need to raise prices without deterring buyers.
"We are now planning for a month or three months at best, unlike six months or a year," said Shantanu Dasgupta, vice president for corporate affairs and strategy at Whirlpool of India, a division of Whirlpool, the world's largest maker of home appliances.
(Read more: Emerging market rout fueling riskier Asia bets: Citi)
The Indian rupee has tumbled 17 percent this year and hit an all-time low of 66.30 against the dollar Tuesday, despite interventions by the central bank and the government as investor fears about emerging markets deepened in anticipation of reduced U.S. monetary stimulus.