Efficient service delivery is more important than doing away with ‘sir’ and ‘madam,’ say citizens


Citizens believe that although the service industry has improved, there is more room for progress.

Even as the governing committees of more local bodies continue to do away with the self-aggrandizing titles of ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ and rush to pat themselves on the back for their perceived moral high ground, many citizens wonder what the hullabaloo is all about as they find it a mere cosmetic reform.

Ever since the Mathur panchayat in Palakkad set a model earlier this month, local bodies across the State seem to be in a race to follow suit and not everyone is impressed.

“Personally I don’t care about addressing elderly officials by ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ as it’s a general gesture of show of respect. What’s more important is to get the service delivered efficiently and without the officialese associated with government offices. The service delivery has definitely improved from what it once used to be though there is still room for much progress,” said Govind P., a young auditor.

Pradeep K.A., an autorickshaw driver from Cherai, who recently shot to fame after the image of his autorickshaw, named ‘Alchemist’ after the novel by Paulo Coelho, went viral upon being shared by the author himself on Twitter, shared similar sentiments.

“The service delivery remains slow and that’s what needs to be addressed on a war footing. Addressing someone as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ is not much different from meeting someone with folded hands. Also, it will take the public some getting used to before they can stop using those prefixes and address officials by their names,” he said.

M.P. Chackochan, an Akshaya entrepreneur, feels that doing away with such titles was not worth celebrating. “We usually address people we don’t know as ‘chettan’ or ‘chechi’ though they are inappropriate in an office setting. ‘Sir’ or ‘madam’ is an escape route in offices while dealing with unknown officials,” he observed.

P.S. Paul, who runs a stationery shop, wonders whether addressing officials by their names could prove counterproductive as he firmly believes that the majority of the officials may take offence to it. “The best thing to do is to make the majority of the services accessible online thus sparing the public the need to go to offices and meet officials, which will automatically resolve the issue of how to address officials,” he said.

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