Ankit Anubhav, Co-founder of The Indian Handwritten Company firmly states that we must get rid of the so-called Sir/Madam culture. Ankit completed his engineering in electronics and further went on to do a master’s in mass communication. He loved writing letters as a kid and calls himself a ‘letter-writing writing nerd’.
In this digital age, he felt that the letters missed the personal touch of hand-written letters. He established The Indian Handwritten Company with his friend Jashwant Cheripally. Their company provides handwritten letters for consumers and business.
Before starting this company, Ankit has worked as an executive for a TV show and as a Radio jockey. He further adds that he has worked in several not-for-profit organizations. This multi-dimensional experience has provided him an insight into different workplace culture.
He believes that addressing someone as Sir/Madam nowadays is a way of flattering. In corporate sector, people care more about appraisals rather than the work they contribute. A mid-level employee does not want to call his senior as Sir/Madam. However, he/she expects their juniors to address them as Sir/Madam. This has created a hypocritical environment in corporate offices.
He shares his internship experience where he worked under a Korean boss. He asserts how his boss did not expect Ankit to address him as Sir. Ankit professes that we all are equal when we come to work. He further adds, respect should be earned based on your work and not your position within a company.
Ankit follows the No Sir No Madam culture at his company. He makes sure that the people that are hired are more team-oriented than respect oriented. He believes that the cause of work should be bigger than any salutation. He enunciates “following first-name culture has made communication better between him and his team “.
In order to implement first-name culture Ankit suggests that the change must come from top-level to bottom level. He indicated that generally an employee would be scared to call the CEO of his or her company by first name. Therefore, changing an age-old habit is easier when the decision-makers and executives welcome with open heart.
Once writing letters for a government official which made him realize Sir/Madam culture breeds power and arrogance. He mentions that the official was not interested in hearing him. Ankit realized that this was because he was not addressing the official as Sir. This is the attitude of government officials all across the country.
Bureaucrats love to be addressed as Sir/Madam. Being addressed to by their first name makes them feel like the other person does not respect them. This is the notion that needs to change. Sir/Madam attitude over the years has taken a form of showing authority. Ankit believes that accepting the Sir/Madam culture, we provide liberty to others to treat us as a slave. This ideology does not inculcate parity.
When it comes to dealing with blue-collar job workers, laborers feel this culture pushed upon them. A watchman who has to address a person half his age as Sir/Madam may feel inferior.
However, Ankit remembers when he was in Orissa; the house-help would call the men as ‘Babu’ and the women as ‘Maa’. This made both the parties mutually respected. Thus, It is important that we make the economically less privileged people feel equal.
During his boarding school days, Ankit had to call his seniors as ‘Sir’. However, on not following the trend, they would be punished. School is the last place you expect to nature Sir/Madam attitude. Therefore, he concurs that putting an end to Sir/Madam culture is vital.
He concludes by saying — it is important that kids are taught the difference between respect and power. They are the ones who are going to grow up and be the leaders of new India. It is every individual’s responsibility to bring this change and initiate No Sir/No Madam culture in their daily life.
As the famous Spanish proverb goes “A wise man changes his mind. A fool will never”.