Divesh Bathija, University of Westminster Alumnus: Indians Respect Others According to Their Convenience and Need

Divesh Bathija, the founder at Dinasim Learning (http://www.dinasimlearning.com) is a fervent supporter of No Sir No Madam doctrine.  Dinasim Learning aims at eradicating the fear of maths from the mind of children.  They incorporate fun games to remove the negative impression that the subject has.

He has completed his graduation from H.R. College of Commerce, Mumbai.  Divesh has also earned his master’s in Investment and Risk Finance from the University of Westminster.  Before incorporating Dinasim Learning, he has worked in organisations like Kotak Wealth Management and Cushman & Wakefield.  Furthermore, his experience of being in England to pursue his studies; gave him a thorough understanding about the cultural differences between India and abroad.

Divesh has implemented No Sir No Madam ideology at his workplace too.  He believes that abolishing hierarchical differences encourages the employees to work without any inhibitions.  Practicing first-name approach makes them feel as an integral part of the company.  Moreover, when people feel related to the organization, they tend to be more loyal and diligent at their work.

Having worked abroad and in private sector, he recognizes the difference in between Indian companies and MNCs.  Divesh states — I started working for a company where they followed American workplace culture.  People never addressed each other or seniors with a salutation.  It was here, that I realised the benefits of No Sir No Madam practice.  There was a sense of parallelism between the employees. In addition, first-name habit encourages innovation, as employees can give their views without any constraints.

However, in India, organisations still follow ‘Sir/Madam’ Custom.  Divesh mentions the major difference he has noticed between Indian and foreign companies.  “In India, people address each other as ‘Sir/Madam’ out of compulsion.  There is also less equality among peers in an organization.  Salutation order makes the person whom it is imposed on, feel inferior.  People need to comprehend that respect and salutation are two different things.”

Along with private-sector companies, public officials too, follow ‘Sir/Madam’ custom strictly.   Divesh has had terrible experience, every time he has had to deal with them.  He narrates one such instance, when he had to meet a local registrar.  Divesh enunciates — even before I had entered the concerned official’s cabin, I was informed to address him as ‘Saheb’.   

Upon entering, I saw the official’s name, so I addressed him by his first-name.  He felt offended and ignored our presence for some time.  I requested him to look into our file as I was getting late for some other work.  The person furiously replied that how could I address him by his first-name.  He also used the many common lines every bureaucrat expresses including “Don’t you know who I am?”

In addition, he cites another example when he had to get his passport renewed.  Divesh voices, “I had been visiting the passport office consistently since four days.  One day, I decided to ask the person in command, the reason for delaying the approval of my passport.  The person replied by saying that there was one document missing.

Upon checking, I understood that it was an optional form.  I explained to the officer, that the form was not mandatory and that, he should have informed me about it earlier.   The person got angry and yelled at me for trying to explain his job to him.”

Similarly, a lot of people have to face such demeaning treatment while corresponding with bureaucrats.  Divesh voices, it is crucial to educate public sector workers about first-name usage.  It is unfair to civilians who have to bow down to the authority of such ill-tempered officers.  We already pay taxes, which is utilized to pay their salaries.  They ought to do their duty without expecting any special treatment, like we do.  Abolishing ‘Sir/Madam’ culture will also make approaching civic authoritarians much simpler.

In India, people respect others according to their convenience and needs.  Divesh articulates — I have personally seen the hypocritical nature of my friends when we were abroad.  We all used to address our house cleaner by his name.  My friends would talk to him and ask about his life as well.  Whereas, he had never seen any of them being so friendly with their house help in India.  I recognised they behaved differently with the cleaner in the UK as he spoke English.  It was strange, the way they treated Indian helpers differently because of a foreign language.

This hypocritical attitude needs to be eradicated in order for us to spread equality within society.  People doing blue-collar jobs are an essential part in the society and should be respected equally.  He understands that changing the mentality of people would take a lot of time.  Although, he is hopeful that people will change gradually.

To bring the restructuring quickly, Divesh recommends implementing first-name habit in school itself.  He talks about a school in U.A.E, where the children address their teacher without any salutation.  Whereas, in India, even the teachers refer to each other as ‘Sir/Madam’.

In conclusion, he reckons, No Sir No Madam only purveys equality and mutual-respect.  It creates a happy and cordial environment for people to work in.   These small things help in improving the efficiency and growth of an individual and the company.  Hence, he suggests everyone to imbibe it into their personal life and bring to the change

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