PRESTIGE OR SYCOPHANCY?

Posted on April 9, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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The write-up of Sri Gopalkrishna Gandhi in The Hindu dated 23rd March 2013 titled ‘Right honourable way forward’ relating to the use of adjectives while addressing people holding higher offices was really inspiring .In my humble opinion, the use of honorific titles or adjectives has to do with our culture which asks us to give respect to elders and partly due to the deep rooted feudal mindset which was further reinforced during the British rule where the gora sahibs wanted to show the place of Indians in the society. In some cases, the use of adjectives is just a reflection of the sycophancy that has such an important role to play when it comes to the relationships between the superior and the subordinates and between the rulers and the ruled.

Sometimes, things go to such a pass that things become nauseating to state the least. In matters as simple as requesting the Principal for a casual leave, things start with the address ‘Most respected Sir’. Then it descends further into the morass with the line, ‘I beg to state the following few lines for your kind consideration’ .Finally, the request for the leave ends with ‘most sincerely’. The person to whom the leave is addressed is surely going to feel superior.

When it comes to formal meetings in the college, it is a hard time to look for adjectives since there are many on the dais that demand proper respect and honour. The Principal is always someone with the need to be addressed properly and then there is the Head of the Department who should also be given his due. If there is any other dignitary things go from bad to worse. I remember when a Principal objected to the use of the term ‘Mr. Principal’ during a talk when the person giving the talk was invited from a different college. Things became so unpleasant that the Principal walked out of the meeting very angry over this issue and the invited dignitary felt extremely slighted. The Principal refused to give him the necessary ‘relieving order’. I always wondered why things go so bad and people become so touchy when they are addressed on the basis of the office that they hold.

It is a pity that even after many decades since independence, it is necessary to give proper respect to the descendants of the former ruling dynasties. We come across in the media about the King or the Prince of a particular state. The title King or the royal family is enough to make everyone feel the need to be inferior. It is not a surprise therefore, the elected representatives don’t feel comfortable in the matters of address.

It is time that we stopped this practice and make our lives less miserable.

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