Sameer Ramesh: Indians Need to Rethink their Use of ‘Sir/Madam’

Sameer Ramesh, the CPO and co-founder of ‘The Climber’ (www.mycaptain.in) understands the need for the implementation of ‘Sir/Madam’.  The Climber is a youth-driven organization that focuses on putting the students first, when it comes to education.  The Climber is currently incubated in the prestigious Indian Institute of Management —Bangalore (IIM-B).

The Climber’s main product ‘MyCaptain’ has been recognized by the United Nations SDSN as one of the Top 50 youth led initiatives in the world that solving the world’s toughest issues.

Sameer holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial engineering, and established his start-up at an early age.  He, along with his friends, launched The Climber after realizing that students needed to be encouraged to take up fields they are interested in and good at.

The majority of the people working in their company are of almost the same age group.  Therefore, they primarily address each other by their first-name.  This has never caused anyone to exercise ‘Sir/Madam’ while conversing with each other.  Sameer claims this habit has been beneficial, as there is a strong bond between everyone.  Employees feel more connected; hence, communication is a lot more efficient.

However, a few interns tend to use ‘Sir/Madam’ in the initial days, unaware about Sameer’s organization’s culture.  They, ergo, as part of the induction program encouraged the interns to address their managers as Captain.  This resulted in stronger bonds and more affection towards the organisation and the managers they were working with.

The Climber’s main product is MyCaptain which is an online platform where high school and college students can take the first step into the field of their passion under the mentorship of young achievers.  In MyCaptain, the mentors are under the age of 25 years, but the students signing up for the online workshops tend to address them as ‘Sir/Madam’.  However, the workshop’s culture refrains them for using Sir/Madam, instead encourages them to address their mentor as Captain.  We believe, the mentor is a person to whom people should look up to, rather than being afraid of.

He also empathizes on the disparate treatment that blue-collar workers get.  He mentions it is unfair that people are respected on the basis of their jobs.  Petty job workers, in India, are generally less educated and as a result feel inferior to others.  Hence, they start working at an early age and are trained to follow the salutation diktat.  Thus, they should be informed about the difference between displaying respect and exercising formal order ignorantly.  It is completely unfair for a person to feel subservient, in order for his employers to feel honoured.

Therefore, Sameer emphasises the need for instilling first-name doctrine of the education system.  He strongly believes that the upcoming generation will be benefited by understanding the essence of No Sir No Madam.  They will also learn about the cultural and behavioral difference.  He shares an experience of his stay in Australia, as a kid.  He recites; it was strange to him that students addressed teachers by their first-name.  Initially, he had difficulty in adapting to this pattern.  His teachers would often correct and notify him to refer them on a first-name basis.

Being a foreign kid, first-name addressal helped him in bonding with the people around.  He reveals communicating with teachers never felt more comfortable and easier.  Though, after returning to India, he found it really difficult in habituating to ‘Sir/Madam’ tradition again.  As a matter of fact, he remembers being pulled up in class for addressing teachers by their first-name.

Sameer winds up — Indians have misunderstood the practice of ‘Sir/Madam’ order.  Nonetheless, it is never too late to change and correct our mindsets.  He prompts everyone to help in eradicating ‘Sir/Madam’ decree.  As we are the ones who have to face the repercussions of putting people above us and below us.

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