Address juniors as ‘aap’: new rule in Indian Railways


Use of ‘tu’ or ‘tum’ is now considered offensive in the organisation, which has 1.3 million employees.

It is common to address subordinates as ‘tu’ or ‘tum’ in Hindi. Many people use these pronouns irrespective of a subordinate’s age, and that is disrespectful behaviour. They should take lessons from the Lucknow culture, where even children are addressed as ‘aap’.

While other organisations continue with their arm chair discussions on employee dignity, Ashwani Lohani, the chairman of Indian Railways has set a clear mandate. He has asked DRMs, GMs and PHODs to address their juniors as ‘aap’ and not as ‘tu’ or ‘tum’. This will be applicable for other Indian languages as well.

Many members of the staff at Indian Railways raised the issue with Lohani that their bosses address them as ‘tu’  or tum’ and they find this to be rather undignified.

“Let us build a very cultured organisation and immaculate conduct. Please provide leadership on this front too,” Lohani wrote in the internal letter.

A small step such as this is bound to boost the morale and self-esteem of the workforce.

Lohani has been the man behind several revolutionary changes for employees, earlier at Indian Airlines (his previous stint) and now at the Indian Railways.

He was the man to put an end to VIP culture at Indian Railways. It was compulsory for general managers to be present when the chairman of the Railway Board or other Railway Board members arrived or departed during visits to zonal railways. Lohani has put an end to this uncalled for VIP protocol. He has also banned the practice of presenting bouquets or gifts to senior officials, besides scaling down various travel benefits of senior officials.

However, to implement any practice, especially in the work culture, within a 1.3 million-strong workforce takes time. Lohani realises this and wants the change to flow from the top to the bottom, and expects the leadership team to start the initiative.

A few months back, four railway officials were suspended for employing railway trackmen as domestic help.

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