No more "Sir" or "Madam" in this Kerala panchayat office as it bans honorifics

Mathur has become the first civic body in the country to ban the usage of salutations like this, setting a unique reformation model for other civic bodies

Representative image
Representative image


Don't get amused if officials of a local village panchayat in Palakkad, Kerala, are seen politely persuading visitors to call them by their name or designation instead of usual salutations like 'sir' or 'madam'.

Scripting history, the Mathur village panchayat in this north Kerala district has banned the colonial honorifics like 'sir' and 'madam' in its office premises with an aim to bridge the barrier between common people, people's representatives and civic body officials and thus build a bond of love and trust between each other.

With this, Mathur has become the first civic body in the country to ban the usage of salutations like this, setting a unique reformation model for other civic bodies.

A recent meeting of the panchayat council had unanimously taken the historic decision and started implementing the new rule.

Setting aside political difference, the seven CPI(M) nominees and one BJP member of the 16-member Congress-ruled village panchayat had backed the resolution moved in this regard earlier this week.

P R Prasad, vice president of the Mathur Panchayat, said the core objective of the move is to bridge the gap between commoners, who visit the panchayat offices with their needs, and people's representatives and officials.

"Cutting across politics, everyone in our panchayat is particular about creating a friendly and warm atmosphere in the office. All of us had a feeling that the salutations like sir or madam used to create a gap between us and people approaching us with their issues," he told PTI.

The panchayat members also felt that these honorifics were remnants of the colonial past.

"In a democracy, people are the masters and people's representatives and officials are there to serve them. They do not need to request us to do anything for them but they can demand service as it is their right," he said.

After banning the salutations, the civic body displayed a notice outside the office telling people that if they are denied any service for not using the honorifics, they can lodge a complaint directly to the panchayat president or secretary.

Every official of the panchayat would place a board on their tables displaying their names. They also requested the Official Language Department to provide them alternative words for "Sir" and "Madam".

So far, those people, who feel any discomfort in addressing elderly officials by their names, can call them using friendly terms like ''chettan' (elder brother) or 'chechi' (elder sister) in Malayalam, he said.

The Mathur Panchayat authorities also decided to bring out "avakasha pathrika" (rights certificate) in the place of the present 'apeksha form' (application form) to ensure the supremacy of the citizen in a democracy.

'Apeksha" means 'request' in local parlance.

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