Rashi Mehta: University of Manchester Alumni Proclaims — Sir/Madam Culture is Redundant
Rashi Mehta, the Co-Founder of Ripple-Effect (http://ripple-effect.in) is a steadfast follower of No Sir No Madam drive. Ripple Effect is a marketplace e-commerce website that sells sustainable products. It supports causes such as Vegan, Organic, Up-cycled/Recycle, Women Empowerment, Education, Natural, Fair trade, Eco-Friendly, Underprivileged Artisans, etc.
They aim to change the mindsets of people, where each one takes the onus of ‘choosing to change’. Let us make an effort at least to buy one such product during any of our luxury purchases. It will definitely help in working towards making this world a happy place for all.
Rashi has inculcated first-name practice at her workplace. She confesses that she never had to habituate herself to adopt a salutation mandate while working. “Removing any form of formal addressal helped me in connecting better with my peers. It helped in creating an environment where we could correspond and even joke about each other,” she adds. Furthermore, she opines that Sir/Madam culture creates a blockade for cordial communication.
Indians are so accustomed to Sir/Madam tradition that they refuse to cease it, even when given an alternative. Rashi cites an example of her own company, when she had initially hired 2 interns. They were hesitant to address her by first-name. Even though, Rashi had given them that liberty, initially, they were scared. “However, with time they realized the casual culture of our company and adopted it.” This even helped the interns in giving their opinions and ideas and created a sense of belonging in them.
She discerns that Sir/Madam custom still prevails in corporate organisations in India. However, she is happy that various companies are setting examples by abolishing this convention. Rashi quotes an example of the telecommunication giant – Vodafone, who have started practicing the usage of first-name culture. They refer to their clients with a prefix of ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’. She emphasizes that other companies ought to embrace this initiative as well.
In India, public sector functionaries largely practice salutation compulsion. To get the work done, one needs to glorify the officials. Bureaucrats get offended, when addressed by their first-name. Rashi reminisces over one such instance, “I was driving on the sea link and was a little over the speed limit. At fault, I immediately got pulled over by a cop. I had to subordinate myself in order to avoid any further severe consequence.” This is the normal diktat while dealing with any police personnel. One often has to refer them with a salutation in order not to offend them.
People from less-privileged part of our society believe that Sir/Madam is the only way of showing respect. They have been taught and brought up in this manner. Individuals doing proletarian jobs are often deemed inferior by the society. Such workers have to impose salutation habit on themselves, irrespective of their age. Over the years, this has propagated more disparities and discrimination. Therefore, it is essential that we endorse No Sir No Madam ideology to purvey equality.
Rashi enunciates — This can be done only when children are taught about the evils of salutation in school. Especially, kids from the lower section of society need to be educated on this topic. They will in turn teach about it to their parents, and this will have a greater impact. Furthermore, she stresses on the responsibility that comes with first-name practice. “These kids should also be taught on showing respect while addressing someone by their first-name.”
In the end, she encourages everyone to take up this cause and employ it in their daily lives. Everyone needs to stop complaining and should take the burden of inculcating this positive culture themselves. People want a change; however, no one is willing to take the initiative. Finally, Rashi beautifully quotes “change will come if each person chooses to change.”