Mandawi Verma: Sir/Madam creates authority which should not be equated to gaining respect

Mandawi Verma, a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Management (IIM-C) is a fervent believer of No Sir Madam culture.  She is the CEO and founder of Mumbai based handicraft brand – Remek (www.remek.in).  A Mumbai based start-up gives artisans a larger access to market.  It serves as a platform for authentic handicraft.  Graduated in engineering, Mandawi worked in IT and FMCG sectors, before starting Remek.

Remek aims to bring traditional art work to urban Indians.  There by creating regular source of income for them.  As a win-win, this helps in retaining the Indian culture and facilitates it to reach urban areas.

Mandawi states, Indian culture believes in providing respect to everyone.  Therefore, in Hindi and other vernacular languages, we often use “Aap or Tum” to refer a person with respect.  Sometimes we add, “Ji or Aap” along with their name to provide reverence.

After independence of India, English become more prevalent.  Dismally, English has limited expressions.  For instance, we mention ‘You’ for either “Aap or Tum”.  Consequently, we end-up addressing people as Sir/Madam to sound humble.  However, people should not link respect with Sir/Madam”, she adds.

Mandawi believes that if we abide by use of first name, people will work hard to gain respect.  Employees will be more productive and get recognised for their efficiency.

She agrees that No Sir No Madam trend should be adopted at all levels.  Everyone should understand the importance of this culture and feel comfortable at work place.  Employees should have a sense of belongingness.  “If my security guard addresses me as Mandavi, I am I am comfortable, as long as he is honest to his job.  Even I call him ‘Chacha’ to render him mutual respect,” She conveys.

Remek also abides by the similar culture.  She states – I try to be humble with my employees to make them comfortable at the workplace.  I expect respect for my work, not for my name.  Likewise, I foresee the same from my employees.  However, she insists that, politeness should not be taken for granted.  People should focus on earning respect by their efficient performance.  Privileges should not be mistaken and should not hamper one’s commitment to work.

Expressing her views on bureaucrats, Mandawi thinks that No Sir No Madam cause potentially brings down corruption.  Civil servants often show authority and associate it with gaining respect.  She asserts, if we mention people by their first name, they will be more answerable.   Government officers taking undue advantage from their position will fear demanding favors.  This will bring a change in the air and reduce public exploitation in India.

Mandawi recollects one of her experiences with a government agency.  She had to follow up several times with a junior officer to complete the formalities for an order. “Though, the order was approved by his senior.  The officer merely bothered me with unrelated matter, to display his power,” She shares.

Respecting elders is inherited in our parents.  The culture continues with the next generation.  If anyone visits our house, we are being immediately asked to greet the guests, as Namaste.  Giving respect is very much required.   However, Mandawi believes that it should not be forced upon on kids.  The better way to preach children is by setting examples.  Parents should be polite and humble, even while speaking to their younger ones.  This will induce a self-understanding  for the true meaning of giving respect.

The change in Sir/Madam culture should be rooted in our education system.  Learning the essence of mutual respect is crucial.  The Sir/Madam nomenclature cannot be forced upon; otherwise, it will vanish when the kids become teenagers.

Furthermore, Mandawi is of opinion that the culture of addressing each other by first name should be promoted to the graduation level.  At this stage, students are eager to learn.  They are thrilled to enter the corporate world.  So, they easily adapt to any new culture.

Finally, Mandawi summarizes with the fact that esteem should not be equated to Sir/Madam. If you do justice to your job, you will be recognised.  It does not matter whether you are being referred with your name or Sir/Madam.

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