I am amused to read in a prominent English weekly about a former MOS in the Union Government , belonging to the TMC, who when asked what he missed about the ministry days, said that it was being addressed as Sir………! His is not the lone example as many others find themselves in the same boat, once they are out of office or position.
One of the many (?) perks that come along by being in a position of authority or even while working in a supervisory capacity is being addressed as ‘Sir’ by persons who happen to be steps below in the official hierarchy. Many of the young entrants- barely in their twenties or early thirties - to the Service to which I belonged not long ago, visibly look most happy when addressed as ‘Sir’ by junior colleagues – I dislike the word ‘ subordinate ‘- much older in age.
‘Unfortunately’ it is rarely that I have been called ‘sir’ by my junior colleagues , to whom even behind my back, I have been just ‘ Sharma ji ‘ .This at times left me thinking that perhaps I did not look like one or simply did not deserve to be where I was. Now when I visit my old offices, I am welcome , am paid due regard and listened to carefully and attentively and enjoy exchanging pleasantries with my former colleagues . This perhaps is the secret of being plain ‘Sharma ji ’. In hindsight , I feel that perhaps they did not want to have artificial distance being created between us as they considered me one of them if not ‘ their very own ’.
And why should I mind not being called ‘Sir’ , as I was only a small cog in a wheel of the Government machinery and did nothing of note to deserve the honorific much as ‘Sir’ was a hard earned knighthood in British India –and is still there in Great Britain- with only a handful of Indian stalwarts like Sir Chhotu Ram, Sir Ganga Ram, Sir J.C.Bose and also the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in the league , who returned the knighthood, aggrieved over the Jallianwalla massacre.