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An informal formality

President Pranab Mukherjee does away with honorifics like His Excellency. Will others have to follow suit?

india Updated: Oct 11, 2012 23:24 IST
Hindustan Times

Just when we thought that our Pranabda would be catching up on his reading in Rashtrapati Bhavan and tending the roses, he has to go into proactive mode. He has now decreed that he will no longer be addressed as His Exce-llency unless in select circumstances and will only be referred to as the Honourable President. Oh dear, we Indians love grand titles almost as much as Pranabda loves his maccher jhol. And if he sets a precedent, will others have to follow suit? We hope not. The iron lady of Poes Garden is addressed as the Right Honourable puratchi thalaivi Dr J Jayalalithaa. Now plain old Honourable chief minister would really not sit well on her substantial shoulders.

While we shy away from official titles, we are very fond of attributing pithy monikers to people. The former BJP president LK Advani was known as the Iron Man till the poor man began to show signs of rusting. Mayawati is often dubbed the czarina by the press and Mulayam as the Samajwadi Party supremo and at times Maulana Mulayam. Uma Bharti who has a penchant for threatening to burn Wal-Mart shops was once dubbed the sexy sanyasin but fiery sanyasin might be a better description. Of course, titles like supremo for political leaders and the curious moniker of honcho for our top businessmen are par for the course.

Not too many will be too pleased with Pranabda's attempts to be closer to the people by dispensing with the title of Excellency. Most ambassadors revel in that title, with their secretaries often speaking to each other saying, 'my excellency would like to speak to your excellency'. We have often fancied ourselves as creators of the literary gems which we churn out for you. So we are sure you will not grudge us a nice title or two. Now since no one is about to confer upon us a doctor of letters, we will have to think up a few ourselves. The pashas of prose, perhaps, the wizards of words, the eminences of editing, the sultans of syntax are some which come to mind. As you can see, we are not quite as modest as that excellent man, the Honourable President of India.

First Published: Oct 11, 2012 23:22 IST