No Sirs and Madams in this Kerala panchayat anymore

Mathur gram panchayat in Palakkad district of Kerala shrugs off colonial hangover

A gram panchayat in Kerala is finally shrugging of the after-effects of the colonial hangover. It is common knowledge that the practice of addressing government officials and elected representatives as Sir or Madam has been prevalent across India. This age-old practice has finally been done away with by the Mathur panchayat in Palakkad district of Kerala.

Even after 75 years since India gained independence from British rule, the practice of addressing officials as Sir and Madam had been a norm. Not anymore, in Mathur, at least!

The panchayat convened a meeting this week and passed a resolution to end the use of Sir, Madam and other titles which used to be a norm during the British rule. Instead, citizens have been asked to address officials and elected representatives at the panchayat offices by their name.

In order to make it easier for citizens who come seeking official help, the names of the officials and elected representatives shall be displayed prominently on their tables.

Mathur has also urged the Official Language department of Kerala to suggest alternatives to Sir and Madam, so that they can be brought into use. In the meantime, citizens can walk into any of the panchayat offices and address officials as ‘chetta or chechi”, meaning brother or sister.

In case an official demands that he or she be addressed sir or madam, the Mathur local body has also made a provision for immediate registering of a complaint, on which action will be taken.

Further, the panchayat also decided to do away with terms such as “request” in applications submitted for various needs. Instead, it has suggested that the citizens may ‘demand’ or ‘evince interest’ in getting their work done by the panchayat officials.

Mathur had been contemplating this move since quite a while. With officials and political bodies cutting across party lines joining hands and agreeing to stand by such a decision, this panchayat in Palakkad district of Kerala has, for sure, ushered in a revolution of sorts.

So, next time you are in Mathur to get an official work done, keep your practice of addressing the babus ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’ away.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »
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