Mukund Malani, Co-founder, and CTO of Livehealth is a personal believer of No Sir No Madam practice. Livehealth works as a management information system for healthcare providers. It works on software which is deployed at the diagnostic centers. The software helps them to automate all the workflows and patients get all their medical records on the mobile phone. Livehealth is essentially an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for labs and a Personal Health Record (PHR) for patients.
A computer engineer, Mukund co-founded Livehealth with his companion Abhimanyu. The idea of Livehealth struck to them while working on their final year project. Mukund realized that a lot could be done in healthcare space to make storing data simpler.
At Livehealth, Mukund underscores on following No Sir No Madam culture. “I remember when we initially recruited three people. They were reluctant to adopt the first-name practice. The Sir/Madam custom was hard-wired in them. Gradually, they started adapting the No Sir No Madam nobility, owing to its benefits.”
It is imbibed in us from birth to give respect to our elders. Mukund enunciates another instance — When we had a small team, the workers felt obliged to respect us. They would often be scared to ask and clear their doubts. I made them understand that we are all are peers and friends; working towards the same goal. A conversation is more effective when it is transparent and without any sense of obligation.
This aided in influencing the laborers to feel more secure. Furthermore, this practice helped in smooth working of the organization. “I believe everybody is equivalent to working environment. Hierarchy does not help a business to flourish,” adds Mukund.
Utilizing salutation to address someone is a habit imbibed into us from the beginning. However, Mukund is glad that the trend is changing. He reminisces over an instance where he had to meet one of the senior doctors in a hospital to pitch their product. Mukund started his presentation by addressing the doctor as ‘Sir’.
Mukund was surprised when the doctor halted him and demanded to be alluded by his name. This helped Mukund to gain confidence and ensured mutual respect between them.
Sir/Madam propensity exists in most parts in public sector offices. This custom has been followed for so long, that occasionally the subordinates simply add Sir. Moreover, it has led to the ignorance of the gender of the person.
“For my work, I had to meet the Commissioner Police (CP) of Pune. At the Police Station, everyone addressed the CP as ‘Sir’. Hence, I prepared myself to meet a male police officer. I was unsettled upon meeting the cop, as the CP was actually a lady. I realized later, that everyone addressed her as “Sir” because the previous CP was a man.”
Indians jump at the chance to follow western culture when it comes to fashion, food, and our taste in music. However, we do not follow their ideology of respecting every job. We often categorize job profiles and associate proportionate regards according to the profession of a person.
Uber drivers outside India are not expected to address their clients as ‘Sir/Madam’. Clients feel respected if the driver is well-behaved in their mannerism and communication. However, in India, Uber drivers are expected to address clients as ‘Sir/Madam’.
It is disheartening to see, how we aimlessly follow Sir/Madam Culture. It is assimilated within us that, ‘Sir/Madam’ is the only way of showing respect while addressing someone senior to us. This perception needs to be eradicated from the roots. Thus, this can be achieved only by implementing change at the education level.
Mukund voices — I believe that the first 5-6 years of a child are the most vital. The beginning years determine and mold a person’s personality. In India, students are made to address teachers as ‘Sir/Madam’. This custom continues even when they are in college. Furthermore, they become reluctant to any form of change when they start working.
He winds up by suggesting,“It is time we break the psyche of salutations. Respect can be shown by your work and your behavior. No Sir No Madam is a healthy culture and should be implemented everywhere.”