Anita Nahal Ph.D., CDP (Certified Diversity Professional), an Indo-American consultant for diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias firmly believe in the abolishment of ‘Sir/Madam’ culture.
A multi-dimensional person, Anita Nahal has a very diverse background, from writing poetry, to children’s books, to a historian, higher education administrator, and being a loved teacher since her days in India.
As the Assistant Provost of International Programs at Howard University, Washington DC, she worked for many years on issues related to international affairs, women’s studies, and diversity and inclusion. Her passion and interest toward diversity has put her at tall heights in life, taking her around the world to over 15 countries. She is the founder and chairperson of a website related to issues of D&I and Unconscious Bias .
She was impressed by the innovative campaign, ‘No Sir No Madam’ focused specifically on “addressing people by their first name”. “By addressing people by the nomenclature of Sir and Madam, It inculcates and perpetuates a hierarchical professional structure, and places specific people at higher levels, thereby others at a disadvantage,” she says.
That’s how ‘No Sir No Madam’ campaign found another inspirer and supporter, an Indian born historian who takes a look back at her country, concerned that people still encourage such practices.
During pre-Independence times, Indians may have been forced to call people Sir/Madam, in an intention to encourage slavery and even racism. However, continuing its practice, compels people into a hierarchical structure which can be demeaning to many.
The idea is to be professional and do great work for which such terms are not necessary, instead dedication, commitment and devotion to work are critical, she says. Anita appreciates the interactive content and videos, ‘No Sir No Madam’ campaigns have published, covering different aspects of people in India, or those coming to conduct work from abroad.
Taking a broader view on the campaign, Anita says even employing the title, ‘Mrs.’ must be removed from the list of the prefixes people are addressed by, as it reveals a woman’s marital status which is no one’s business to know. Instead, using the prefix, Ms is better.
Anita is hopeful that the ‘No Sir, No Madam,’ content on the internet will benefit the younger generation, as long term ideological and intellectual changes can only be taken by young minds. When youth of the country channelize their energy and learn to respect people the right way, India shall soon become a fully developed country.