Balwant Singh, Illinois State University Alumnus — ‘Sir/Madam’ Custom has Moulded Adapted Slavery in India
Balwant Singh, the director of N Buzz Business Solutions Pvt Ltd is a fervent follower of No Sir No Madam doctrine. N Buzz deals in business of online classifications, review websites, e-commerce, online trading, and end-to-end solutions.
Balwant is an engineering graduate, who has received his masters in information system from the prestigious Illinois State University, Chicago, USA. After returning to India, he found himself intrigued by the development of seed industry in India.
His father, who already worked within the seed industry, informed him about the challenges one has to face while dealing with information in seed sector. Having education in information technology and an understanding of seed industry. Balwant came-up with an innovative solution to tackle the problem and incorporated his firm.
Balwant has always followed No Sir No Madam ideology in his life. Even at his workplace, employees do not have to adhere to any salutation mandate. He weens — Imparting No Sir No Madam habit at the workplace has enabled me to connect better with my employees. Employees are more loyal and diligent as they feel respected too. Moreover, there has been a time when the company was not doing well; however, my employees stuck by me and helped in overcoming problems.
“In our company, we have weekly meetings, where we discuss ideas. Not having any salutation edict allows employees to share their opinions without any constraint. During the meeting, my employees would question me about the company’s financial status and problems regarding that. Such concerns from your employees make you feel good as they consider the firm as their own organization. They relate themselves to the company’s problems on a personal level,” Balwant remarks.
He remembers a major project they had to work on and complete within a month. Having limited time, they had to work dedicatedly even on holidays. Balwant states his employees never complained and worked tirelessly. To reward their work, he even gave them the liberty to work according to their will on other projects. He ventures that first-name habit makes communicating easier and instills parity. “Being their employer, I never felt the superiority complex as I got to understand their perceptions.”
No Sir No Madam practice has helped Balwant form and continue cordial relations with his employees. He talks to about one intern, who was hired from Nepal. Recently, the intern messaged Balwant on Facebook, thanking him for the opportunity and the learning experience. “Such messages make you feel happy, knowing that you have helped someone,” he affirms.
On the other hand, he mentions about his father’s company, which is a more traditional enterprise. He conveys that he has noticed employees being not so passionate about their work. In addition, ‘Sir/Madam’ custom restricts employees to share their ideas, as there is a long chain of hierarchy.
Similarly, a lot of traditional companies in India continue to exercise ‘Sir/Madam’ culture. They need to be informed about the essence of first-name greeting, so that they can let go of the old customs. Balwant voices “I remember when I was doing my internship in America, I addressed a senior as ‘Sir’. He politely corrected me and asked me to refer him by his first-name. Moreover, he stated, although he might me superior to me in designation, we are still equal as humans. This experience hit me hard and since then I was encouraged to follow No Sir No Madam culture.”
He also addresses the situation in public sector, where one has to abide by the custom set by officials. He declares – As long as there is no law to eradicate ‘Sir/Madam’ edict from government sector, people will have to cling to addressing bureaucrats with a salutation. The culture is so, that even the new recruits who do not want to follow any salutation ordinance, end up exercising ‘Sir/Madam’ order.
If we plan to restructure our public offices, the change must be imparted by officials at higher position. They are the ones who can imbibe a salutation-free environment in their offices. In addition, abolishing any form of salutation diktat will empower people to question their leaders.
Balwant suggests that the best way to inspire and inform people about No Sir No Madam cause is via the education system. He remarks that our country’s education system is flawed as we are nurturing slaves and not leaders.
He shares an experience of his engineering college days, where one professor bullied him. The professor would make Balwant do his chores and Balwant did not have any other option but to comply. This hindered Balwant’s growth and even affected his confidence.
He continues, “While I was in USA, to do my masters, I felt the positive difference in both the countries. We could address our professors by their first-name. This also enabled us to question them regarding any doubts and converse with them as friends. I was not a bright student in India, although in USA, I performed better in my university. I believe it was because of the difference in the way teachers taught and treated us,” enumerates Balwant.
Thus, we ought to implement No Sir No Madam doctrine in schools to make kids and teachers aware of its advantages.
Balwant ceases – Once you start addressing someone by their first-name, you form a personal pact with them. You start understanding them in a better way and respect them for who they are.