Rajesh Subramaniam, A Seasoned HR Professional: Sadly, in India, Respect is Given on the Degree of a Person’s Affluence
Rajesh Subramaniam, the founder at Learn the Corp consulting (http://learnthecorp.com), concerningly underlines the need for No Sir No Madam mindset in India. Learn the Corp consulting strategically aims at maximizing and leveraging Human Resource (HR) talent for Global market.
He has spent more than twenty years in the corporate sector as an HR professional. Rajesh has worked with various companies, including Oracle, Standard Chartered Bank and Cognizant. His experience as HR personnel has given him a wide understanding of the culture prevalent in organisations and society, in general.
Rajesh has ensured to imbibe first-name practice, wherever he has worked. In addition, he has inculcated the same habit at Learn the Corp. He opines, referring each other by their first-name, helps you in recognizing them. No salutation custom en-kindles an open and genial environment to work in.
Even prior to his startup, Rajesh never adhered to any salutation greeting. He mentions, right from his first employer, he would address his superior on a first-name basis. Moreover, his superior would also ensure that nobody addresses him as ‘Sir’. Rajesh would even inform employees working under him that they should not cling to any formal greeting. It is truly rare when people in such superior designations do not mind being addressed without a salutation.
Rajesh ventures — Respect should be given to people who have achieved and accomplished laurels in his or her life through coming up from scratch. However, society tends to respect people based on someone’s fame and wealth. Thus, totally disregarding people, who are hardworking and diligent. In private sector, employees who are good at sugar-coating their conversation get promoted before the studious employees. Such biased enactments have also led to superficial respect, wherein, employees respect a senior, only in his presence. ‘Sir/Madam’ custom has given rise to such artificial display of respect in companies.
On talking about government officials, he confesses, he has never addressed any bureaucrat with a salutation. “I always ensure to refer them by their first-name. I have at times noticed them being uncomfortable; however, I continue with my approach and work.” Rajesh states — I do not ponder salutation to be the only form of displaying respect. I prefer addressing people as ‘Sir/Madam’, who have truly acquired nothing but knowledge as wealth and fame in his or her life.
Furthermore, people from poor-economic backgrounds continue to face the brunt of ‘Sir/Madam’ custom. Rajesh vocalizes, “Wherever you go, petty workers respect you immensely. It is ingrained into their minds to respect anyone more fortunate than them. Even in villages, people treat you like a royalty, out of respect. However, opulent individual take advantage of their humble nature and continue to oppress them. Those people need to be informed about ways wherein, they can respect others without losing their pride.
In India, we have multiple words to replace ‘Sir/Madam’ with. He mentions about cooks and servants who refers to the family – husband and wife as ‘Anna’’ (bhaee) and ‘Akka’(bahan) respectively. Similarly, there are other substitutes to esteem someone.
Indians, consider respecting others as an integral part of our tradition. Although, Rajesh remarks, “We should respect people, if they are qualified for being respected. One should not let a person’s designation, wealth, fame or power scare him/her into displaying respect.
Rajesh conjectures education as the most effective tool to implement No sir No Madam ideology. Removing ‘Sir/Madam’ greeting would allow the kids to connect better with their teachers. This would also help the students to approach their teacher without any hesitation. Students most of the time do not venture out voluntary to clarify their doubts. They are afraid of being ridiculed as being disrespectful and a “name caller”. Hence, following a salutation ridden custom will ensure better communication between the students and the teachers.
In the end, Rajesh counsels to spread awareness about No Sir No Madam initiative in schools, colleges, government offices, and corporates. Involving and informing as many people as possible is the most potent way of spreading awareness, he adds. Rightly so, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me, and I will forget, show me, and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn.”