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With all due respect...

We Indians care a lot about social standing. Which means that we like to be shown respect. Which also means that we show respect to everyone.

Why am I mentioning this? Because, erm, I find it funny.

Sir, I don't understand this.

Dude, the ^#%&# just cannot explain

If you are new to India, try going into any government office. Even the clerk who accepts the bill payment has to be called Sir, otherwise, he shall stall you as long as he can. That's all, just one word that is required. In fact, it is a word that is conspicuous only by its absence. Try to get a driving license, but forget to address the inspector as Sir.

So it's no surprise to find such an email one day, on a mailing list meant to disseminate official notices:

Sir, wth al du rspect, i hv lst my blk jcky undrwear can you please forward this mail to the institute i will be greatfull to you if ne1 finds, pls rtrn. to rm***/hstl**. *regards

And when someone (another post on such people to follow) makes fun of such a mail, the response is:

sum seniors here r really need a gud @#%$ *&$&*....&^#* !@#$%%^^*^&^

But anecdotes from my college aside, I need to mention that I find such sycophancy extremely disturbing. If all we care about is small favours obtained by rubbing our noses over someone's shoes, then we are in serious trouble. Because, in the process, we forget some important goals.

If all we are concerned about is which leader should a particular road be named after, then we are really missing something important. If a presentation on how to solve the water shortage problem can be stalled just because it was in English (which incidentally could be understood by everyone present) instead of the vernacular language, then we shall forever have issues which remain unsolved.

Singapore, as a country was just in the same state as India around 40 years back. In those 40 years, it has made a transition from being a third world country to a first world country. Sceptics may say that it is a small country, easy to administer, etc. But the fact remains that they still have a Clark Quay, a Raffles Place or a Fullerton Road and a strong economy. Perhaps they are too busy to rename places in the city.

Our culture has always taught us to be respectful. How sycophancy has crept into the definition of respect is something that I don't understand. But I do know that we have to move on. And leave sycophancy behind.

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