Monday, May 30, 2011

Report on petrol price hike and its impact in Kochi

 Study reveals 17% reduction in petrol sales  


A rise in petrol prices is not a new phenomenon for Kerala. After its deregulation in June 2010, petrol price was hiked eight times. Research states that in April 1989, petrol cost Rs 8.50 per litre, while diesel was Rs 3.50. Today, petrol costs Rs 65.6 per litre, after a Rs 5 increase on May 15, 2011. Due to public concern, the Kerala government waived off sales tax on the hiked portion of the price, which brings the price down by Rs 1.25 per litre. A study conducted by the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) at various petrol pumps in Kochi shows a 17% reduction in petrol sales in litres after the hike and an 11% reduction in petrol sales in rupees.











This hike in petrol prices is sure to hurt the common man, irrespective of class or creed. However, rising fuel costs is also an opportunity to promote the usage of public transport. An endeavour like Bus Day assumes larger significance here, not just to mitigate concerns of rising fuel costs, but also to promote the cause of sustainable development.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kochi Bus Day on May 31


A poster of the Bus Day at Vytilla Junction, Kochi

Kochi is set to celebrate yet another Bus Day! The Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), with the support of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, telecom partner Uninor, and media partner Red FM is observing May 31 as ‘Bus Day’. Celebrities and politicians are expected to participate in the event, the route for which is the Fort Kochi-Aluva stretch. The event will be flagged off from Thoppumpady at 8 am. Both KSRTC and private buses operators will participate in this venture.


‘Bus Day’ will be conducted on the third Wednesday of every month, for the next three months. The state’s first Bus Day was held on December 18, 2010. It was flagged off from Kakkanad Civil Station at 9 am by actor Dileep. Transport Minister Jose Thettayil, Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany, Deputy Mayor Bhadra Satheesh, and Collector Dr Beena used the public transport system on that day, in addition to other celebrities, MLAs, and prominent persons from all walks of life.


A well-developed public transport system has been advocated by most advanced countries. Public transportation is a critical link to jobs, economic expansion, and quality of life in our community. Riding the bus is easy, inexpensive, convenient, and comfortable. It also saves money, and wear and tear of personal vehicles, while reducing traffic congestion and preventing air pollution.


‘Bus Day’ is a campaign aimed at branding buses as the best way to move about a city. It encourages people to leave their vehicles at home and hop on to city buses, to understand the importance of the public transport system in reducing traffic and environmental issues. It is definitely a call to persuade ‘well off’ people to use the bus.


Benefits of using the public transport system are aplenty. First, it saves money. Second, a person arrives at his/her office relaxed and ready to work, free from the stress of driving a car at peak traffic hours. It also reduces the need for on-site employee parking. Finally, it helps reduce traffic and pollution in the city.


For more details, contact Vivek Mathai at 9496326956 or email vivek@civitas.in



Support Bus Day: Take this Survey!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Breeze of Change


Mukund P Unny
And a yet another election season got over!.. But this time around..the word that struck the minds of voters, more than anyother is "CHANGE". This word is assuming tremendous power these days, worthy enough to overthrow mightiest of governments. It was initiated in to the political parlance by Barack Obama, after which it caught the imagination of almost every opposition parties.

What happened in WB, was something really unbelievable (atleast till 2-3 years ago). Mamata Banerjee, in fact steamrolled over the Left, in that state. Her victory is significant considering the the organizational foundation the Left has managed to build there in the past 40 years. And you saw even the sitting Chief Minister getting uprooted by the storm of change. That phenomenon was something that happened in India after 40 years or so. The Left should have seen its debacle coming right after the Nandigram incident happened, where it all started. As Communist Party of India General Secretary, A.B.Bardhan said in a recent interview (Devil's Advocate, CNN-IBN), Nandigram and Singur made the opposition realise that Left can be won over. Some say, it was "arrogance" of the Left leaders that led them to its present state. True?.. Yeah partly, though it was the arrogance of the local leaders of the Left. Infact, the state leadership of the party was known for their spartan lifestyle and their pro-people approaches. No one could save the Left, even Somnath Chatterjee, who came down to campaign for the party that nurtured him. That was a complete defeat, where the people commanded the Red leaders to sit in the opposition and yell, though they are yet to know how to act as a sound Opposition for the reason that they have not been in Opposition since1967. (They boycotted the legislature untill they finally came to power in 1977).

Lets go to another place where "change" happened, Tamil Nadu. Here, Change is constant since 1990. (I think, they are becoming another Kerala). This time, the vote was against corruption, nepotism, and family politics. Jaya saw a setback in the Loksabha polls. But it was then when you saw the 2G coming. That wave swept the Dravida state. People saw A. Raja behind bars, and the CM's daughter caught in the same scandal. Special mention has to be given to the "freebies", that the parties offered (things including laptop and grinder etc to cite as examples). Karuna's offer of Mixer Grinder has not gone well with the masses. They might have seen the offer of 'laptops' by Amma to be more attractive. This election also saw the dominant emergence of Captain (Vijayakanth). He rose from a single seat to 29 (out of 41 he contested) seats this time. The victories by Left candidates under the shield of AIADMK alliance would have come as a breather to the Left leaders. Though they have lost their strongholds, these wins by the Left are impressive especially since they are in a desperate pitch to claim a pan-Indian appeal. Amma has sworn in with a mammoth council of ministers (33 ministers). Interestingly, the Left and Vijayakanth has opted not to join the ministry.

Coming to Kerala from Kolkata via Chennai, I will have to contradict my earlier statement that states voted for change. In Kerala, this time, they voted for stability, however, UDF emerged victorious. This was the most closely faught election in the history of Kerala. The state, that adopted the coalition set up much before many other states, saw the Congress-led UDF winning a thriller. The LDF and UDF was evenly poised throughout the counting session and the Congress sealed the race with a last-minute stride. But the UDF Government is surviving with the oxygen given by the regional religion-backed parties. If one ally pulls out, then you will see a Karnataka-like situation emerging in Kerala. Like how the analysts pointed out the religious polarization was felt across the state. That is a negative trend in a state that claims to be most progressive. In minority dominated areas like Ernakulam, Kottayam, Malappuram districts, UDF saw themselves victorious, primarily riding on the fortunes of the small allies of the Front. When JSS, CMP, Congress (S), drew a blank, the powerful Church-backed Kerala Congress (Mani) featured a superb performance. The IUML also displayed a splendid performance winning 20 out of the 24 seats it contested. The Left exhibited a very good fightback after the Loksabha and Municipal polls and it won back the hearts of nearly 50 percent of the voters, though they fell 2 short of the required 70 mark in number. Last minute truce within the Front and the various archaic corruption cases emerging late came in handy for the Left here. But, it is again important to note that the VS' governance was exceptional compared to his predecessors. VS is still the favorite CM, as showed by various Exit poll surveys. The VS government was not tainted by any major corruption scams when all other state governments were facing one scam after the other. "You cant say anything bad about the government", that was the general opinion, though the Left was left losing their previous elections mainly owing to their own infighting.

We have to admit that Indian electorate is becoming more matured and demanding. They have started voting those who perform and vote out who do not. This is a transition that is very significant. Let us hope the CM-designates in these states to bring their best and put up a good governance to enable the voter to vote them again after 5 years.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Electoral Verdict - Kerala Analysis

D Dhanuraj
The recent election results have shown a paradigm shift in Kerala politics. The initial impression is that the performance of regional parties has cost the fortunes of both fronts, forcing them to move to Cantonment House; a probable turning point for Kerala’s politics. During the last two elections, the CPI (M) took initiatives to check untested claims of regional grouping, and they fairly succeeded in quantifying and assessing the vote base of those parties involved. This time around, the Congress failed to take a cue from these learnings to assess the potential of splinter groups in the UDF. At the end, both fronts lost the race.
Kerala is one of the earliest states to have embraced coalition politics. It saw ups and down in the 70s, crashing at times due to the underpinning of democratic processes. There was stability in the 80s and 90s, but at the cost of consolidation of religious groupings, with the latter being allowed to handle major portfolios, like education and industry. At times, it was justified. However, these parties took pride mostly in the consolidation of regional and religious grouping, most often forgetting the basic principles of democracy. This election may be called a quarterfinal (I expect another election before the end of five years) where smaller parties are tested.
The JSS, the Congress (S), the Kerala Congress (Anti-merger Group), and the CMP are the major small parties that spoiled the winning chances of both the dominating fronts. None of them won any seats, but altogether they contested 11 seats. If these seats were given to any of the dominant parties, it would have tilted in any one’s favour, thus securing a comfort zone for the ruling front. These splinter groups may have to assess and revisit their strategies, if they have to survive threats to their roots.
Fielding young candidates is always a welcome measure. However, the youth brigade should also understand that for assembly elections, voters will look at someone who has been around for a while and who has proved his/her candidature. It cannot be someone brought into the fray by Rahul Gandhi, unlike in elections to the Parliament. While the Congress fielded many from the so-called Young Turks, the Left parties chose their young candidates from their cadre, eventually stealing the show. Voters are choosy when seek to they select their representative for Delhi and Trivandrum.
Panchayat elections in Kerala had forecasted that the UDF would go win a brutal and sizeable majority in the assembly elections. The PR management of the LDF government in the last round turned it upside down. The ‘VS’ factor had a decisive role in the poll outcome. The PR tool of VS politics had negative outcomes and vicissitudes at times (like the Kunjalikutty and Balakrishna Pillai issues), but it turned positive for the LDF in the run up to the elections. For those that were attacked, their parties fared well, but the front lost their plot in the end; the damage was more on the allies’ side. The result is also a victory of leadership, as the Congress did not have a leader of national stature. A higher percentage of voter turnout and LDF’s extraordinary show against the anti-incumbency has concluded that we are caught up in stereotypical melodramas and talk shows. We are running from real time issues and do not want to solve it.

D Dhanuraj is Chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research (www.cppr.in). He can be reached at dhanu@cppr.in.

Patent Evergreening in India and Public Health Effects

Patent is the exclusive right given to the right holder to reap benefits out of his invention. Internationally, it is the TRIPS Agreement that regulates the law relating to copyrights, patents, trademarks and other forms of IPR. In theory, the logic behind patent is that, for the discovery of new medicines, companies need an incentive to make this investment; patents provide that protection. As research and development of novel drugs within pharmaceutical multinationals has slowed down, they have focused their energies on patenting minor tweaks to existing drugs in order to extend monopolies, whenever possible. In international trade circles, this is called ‘Evergreening‘.

‘Evergreening’ results in infinite monopoly or a lifetime of artificially high-priced medicines, as only one manufacturer is allowed to supply the drug in the market during the existence of patent right. As a result of this trend, the need to have affordable medicines intensified in 2005, when India amended its patent laws to comply with the TRIPs agreement. Indian patent law has provisions to prevent ‘Evergreening.’

Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act, 1970, states that the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance, which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant, is not an invention within the meaning of the Patents Act.

Section 3(d) is aimed at preventing pharmaceutical companies from obtaining patents on minor variations of existing patented medicines; this effectively prevents trivial patenting or mere workshop improvement of already patented drugs in India.

The concept of ‘Evergreening’ was highlighted in the recent case of Novartis’ patent application on ‘Gleevec’. The patent law allows for any person or group to oppose a patent application and, accordingly, several pre-grant to oppositions had been filed against the patent application of Novartis. As a result of pre-grant opposition filed by civil society groups and Indian drug companies, who contested the novelty and inventiveness of Gleevec, the patent application was rejected under Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Law in January 2006 on the ground that the drug was only a new form of an old drug. Consequently, the Exclusive Marketing Rights [EMR] stood automatically terminated. Rejection of the patent brought relief to thousands of cancer patients, as it prevented a patent monopoly till 2018.

Novartis’ litigation has raised concerns among other patent groups, as the Gleevec patent order set a precedent for the examination of crucial drugs patent applications, including those for AIDS treatment. If a patent is sought on an improvement, that improvement must actually make the medicine more effective. India, while complying with the TRIPS agreement and introducing a product patent regime for ‘new drugs that were invented’, had made patent examination norms a little stringent, also coupled its law with a safeguard of refusing patents on discovery of new forms or new uses of older drugs to prevent ‘Evergreening’.

The, the Indian Patent Act, by incorporating provisions for product patent of drugs not only protects the interest of pharmaceutical companies, but also provides protection against ‘Evergreening’. But the judiciary has proactively tried to maintain a balance keeping public interest aspect in view.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Independent Directors - Their roles and responsibilities

Introduction
The Board of Directors of a public listed company comprise mainly of 2 types of Directors. The Executive Directors who are part of the company are concerned with the day to day running of the company and dealing with the every issues which crop up. Independent Directors on the other hand are accomplished persons who are on Board of the Company, who have no relation to the executive Directors. Their main function is to bring in a fresh perspective towards Boardroom strategies and at the same time prevent mismanagement of the Company. As per SEBI regulations, every listed company should have atleast a third of the Board filled with ID’s.

Independent Directors
An ID is a non-executive director on the board of a company who has integrity, sense of accountability, track record of achievements, financial literacy, experience and the independence to balance the interests of various stakeholders, ability to think strategically, degree of commitment, sense of devotion, etc.

The concept is not mentioned in the Companies Act. However, certain administrative functions have been delegated by the Companies Act to SEBI. Hence, as per circular issued by SEBI, clause 49 of listing agreement deals with ID’s(Independent Directors).

Certain requirement are that ID’s should have:
i) no relationships pecuniary or otherwise with any part of company including its directors, associates, subsidiaries, promoters, etc.
ii) no relation to anyone on board of company or a level below.
iii) Not been an executive director of the company for past 3 years.
iv) Not partner of legal or audit firm of the company.
v) Not a material supplier to company.
vi) Not substantial shareholder (i.e 2% or more shares.)

IDs - Their Responsibilities
An Independent Director (ID) is generally a person who is an accomplished professional/manager of social repute. Investors are influenced to invest in such companies seeing the presence of such accomplished persons as IDs on the Board of the company.
Their roles are twofold: First, to monitor the executive management; and the second is to enrich boardroom deliberations, leading to right decisions. While the executive management focuses on the second role, regulators focus on the first role. A reading of the Standing Committee report leads to the inference that the Standing Committee views the failure of Satyam as a failure of independent directors. Many experts subscribe to this view. However, independent directors performed the second role effectively and that is the reason why Satyam could be brought back on rail so fast.

IDs play an important role in challenging and contributing to the development of strategy of the company and to review the performance of the management in meeting agreed goals and objectives. They bring wider experience and a fresh perspective to the Board, while also playing an important role in ensuring financial controls are proper and setting appropriate levels of remuneration for executive directors.

The Companies Bill, 2009, introduces new roles for IDs by clearly defining their functions as well as distinguishing between the role of IDs and Executive Directors.
i) IDs are to receive no remuneration, other than sitting fee or reimbursement of expenses. They can receive profit related commissions or stock options, if approved by Board Members.
ii) The new bill recognizes liability of IDs to the board of the company and provides for a new scheme for penalties and punishment for non-compliance or violation of the law, whereby an ID can also be made liable.
iii) Proposal to set a cap on tenure of ID (6 years). Presumptively to reduce likelihood of IDs getting close to Executive Directors.
Why these Rules would prove beneficial
Investors depend on them to ensure unbiased and proper functioning of the company. Investors are also influenced to invest due to the presence of high stature independent directors present on board of a company. It is under the presumption that independent directors will prevent mismanagement of and ensure efficient management of a company that the public invests in it.

Hence, if there is no mechanism to hold them responsible for not ensuring the same, none of the directors would be interested in the running of the company. These rules would also ensure that the IDs don’t just collect money and sit back. They would be forced into a more proactive role, which would actually justify investor confidence in the company.

It can be argued that, if the above said mechanisms were already in place, a debacle like Satyam may in all probability not have occurred.

Why these Rules could become counterproductive
These rules are basically creating two classes of Directors. It seeks to curtail the enterprise of IDs. Their enterprise contributes substantially towards taking the company forward. These rules could have a policeman effect. That is, the IDs could end up acting as policemen on the Board, scrutinizing and cross questioning each and every strategy, etc, which hamper effective running of the company.

Also, the proposal to deny remuneration to Directors would definitely affect their willingness to be part of the Board, especially since there is also a scheme of penalties and liabilities that are being introduced by the new Bill with the objective of making IDs more responsible for the running of the company. Excessive laws which have the result of levying heavy fines on independent directors for not strictly overseeing affairs of a company would result in the impossibility of getting highly qualified professionals and persons of repute on board a company.

Another proposal is to put a cap of six years on the tenure of an ID. This is essentially to prevent IDs from getting close to the Executive Directors of the company, as this would impair their judgment.

However, it could prove to be counter productive, as the effectiveness of independent directors depends, to a large extent, depends on the confidence of the executive management on independent directors, particularly, in a family-run enterprise. The Indian corporate sector is dominated by family-run businesses. Therefore, a short tenure (six years) of independent directors will be a constraint in developing a relationship of trust between independent directors and the executive management.

Another issue would be when meetings are called at short notice. It would require an independent non – executive director or at least ratification of any decisions by any one ID. This could be difficult to execute, especially when they are not remunerated.

Theoretical ways to ensure responsibility of IDs to company without such strict laws
i) Monetary incentives
ii) Likelihood of loss of hard earned social stature

Character Merchandising

Introduction
Character merchandising can be defined as the adaptation or secondary exploitation by the creator of a fictional character by a real person or by one or several authorized third parties of the essential personality features (such as the name, Image or appearance) of a character in relation to various goods and/or services with a view to creating in prospective customers a desire to acquire those goods and/or to use those services because of the customers’ affinity with that character. Characters can be fictional or real.

Few examples of Character Merchandising are:
- A toy is the three-dimensional reproduction of the fictional character Mickey Mouse
- Tennis shoes with the name ‘AndrĂ© Agassi’
- An advertising movie campaign for the drink Coca Cola shows actor Amir Khan drinking Coca Cola

History
The concept started in US during the 1930s, when Walt Disney became famous through its creations - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc. In India, we it is though Hanuman, Krishna, etc.
In fact, the concept has its philosophical beginnings from Hegel through the exposition of ‘individual property is the extension of his personality’. One shall not a trespass the personality of a person who has attained a fame and reputation. For this purpose, the person/ celebrity has to justify his fame as a form of merchandise to get protection.

Legal framework
There exists no specific law for character merchandising, while trademark, designs and copyright provide protection to persons who want to safeguard their personality. For eg: Football star David Beckham has protected his face and prevents people from using it in posters and cutouts.
It is the owner who is the creator or holder of the character. For instance, cartoon characters are properties of the persons who drew and created them. Legally, characters are protected through various steps as a form of Intellectual property rights. Pinochio and Tarzan are considered to be literary works, while Tintin and 7 UP character are strip cartoons, protected under IPR laws. Drawings and artistic works like Mona Lisa, and cinematorgraphic representations like King Kong, and Krishh are similarly protected.

Character merchandising is often invoked legally to prevent unfair competition, since there is a high chance that competitors may use noted celebrities while advertising.
In India, the Designs Act is used to cover names and titles of work and cinematographic works and registered for preventing infringement. The Prevention of Improper Use Act, 1950, which provides for list of names, emblems and the like are protected and any misuse invited prosecution. Famous cases in India regarding Character Merchandising are DM Entertainment v. BABY Gift house, wherein the dolls of the noted playback singer Daler Mehndi was sold in the market without the consent of the company which had bought complete rights from the singer. The Court found it to be a passing off, as it causes impression on people as to deceive people that it was a product of the company which had rights over the singer. Other instances of character merchandise include Saurav Ganguly seeking Tata Tea to refrain from using his face for marketing its product.

Conclusion
There is a need to protect the rights and interests of the creators who had taken strains to create a work using their intelligence. While intellectual property rights provide protection to such creators as an incentive to their creation, they are often weak in protecting the misuse of characters created by individuals. Often celebrities are at the receiving end when it comes to such misuse. It is pertinent to accord protection and prevents misuse of their name or face for purely commercial endeavours or misrepresentation. India needs to strengthen its IPR regime to provide protection to creators and encourage innovation. Character Merchandising laws shall be able to strengthen the IPR regime and build up reputation of India as a nation strong in encouraging and protecting inventors.

Drip Marketing

Drip Marketing is a communication strategy that sends, or ‘drips’," a pre-written set of messages to customers or prospects over time. These messages often take the form of email marketing, although other media can also be used. Drip marketing is unique from other database marketing in two ways: (1) the timing of the messages follow a pre-determined course; (2) the messages are dripped in a series applicable to a specific behavior or status of the recipient

Drip Marketing Mediums

Email -
The most commonly used form of drip marketing is email marketing, due to the low cost associated with sending multiple messages over time. Email drip marketing is often used in conjunction with a Form (web) in a method called an Autoresponder. In this method, a lead completes the form on a company's website and is then enrolled in a drip marketing campaign with messaging appropriate to the form's context.
Direct Mail - Although more costly, direct mail software has been developed that enables drip marketing techniques using standard postal mail. This technology relies on digital printing, where low-volume print runs are cost justifiable, and the variable data can be merged to personalize each drip message.
Social Media - The principles of Drip Marketing have been applied in many social media marketing tools to schedule a series of updates. One popular tool, HootSuite, allows users to time messages and dissemenate via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and several other social media sites simultaneously.
CRM - CRM systems can automate the tactical delivery of the drip marketing message, triggering a system generated email, scheduling a follow up call or prompting social media posts.

Drip Marketing Programmes
Automate lead nurturing with Prospect Insight's drip marketing and lead nurturing functionality. The system can automatically send out emails based on time intervals, actions taken by prospects on your website, or other parameters. Drip marketing allows you to free up valuable marketing and sales resources without neglecting your prospects.
• Keep in touch with prospects that are not yet ready to purchase
• Send reminders to prospects for an event or trade show, or follow up after the event
• Send a series of helpful tips to current or future clients
• Offer a series of white papers or webinars over time

Drip Marketing in Lead-Generation
Drip marketing can be used as a function of the Lead generation and qualification process. Specifically, drip marketing constitutes an automated follow-up method that can augment or replace personal lead follow-up. Often called Autoresponders, new leads are automatically enrolled into a drip marketing campaign with messaging relevant to the call-to-action from which the lead came.
Advantages include the automation and efficiency, as well as the continued ability for direct response. Intelligent e-commerce sites, such as Dell, have integrated this form of drip campaign with un-purchased shopping carts. The continued messaging is relevant to the contents that the shopper stopped short of purchasing, and continues to include direct response actions (i.e. buy now).
Disadvantages include the impersonal manner of follow-up. If not augmented with a traditional and personal follow-up method, this automated follow-up has a lower response rate than does personal sales. The lowered response rate is often justified by the volume and efficiency with which leads can be generated and converted.
Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drip_Marketing
http://www.answers.com/topic/email-drip-marketing#cite_note-Dell_Privacy_Policy-2

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yes … My Lord

The Bar Council of India, the apex body of the lawyers in the country, adopted a resolution in April 2006 and added a new Rule 49(1) (j) in the Advocates Act. As per the rule, Judges need not be addressed as ‘Lords’ and lawyers can address the court as 'Your Honour' and refer to it as 'Honourable Court'. If it is a subordinate court, lawyers can use terms such as 'Sir' or any equivalent phrase in the regional language concerned. The resolution has since been circulated to all state councils and the Supreme Court for adoption, but over five years now, the resolution largely remains on paper.

In response, the Kerala High Court Advocates Association in 2007 passed a resolution that judges of the Kerala High Court need not be addressed as ‘Lordships’; instead can be addressed as ‘Your Honour’ or ‘Sir’ . Recently, the Advocates Association of the Punjab and Haryana High Court also passed a resolution on similar lines. Newspaper reports suggest that Judges have been receptive to these changes. But unfortunately in practice, Judges are still addressed as Lordships in High Courts and the Supreme Court. However, in an unprecedented move in October 2009, Justice K Chandru of Madras HC banned lawyers from addressing his court as 'My lord' and 'Your lor

dship'

The term ‘Lord’ denotes feudal superiority or a divine entity, and the Bar Council resolution refers to such terms as ‘relics of the colonial past’. In England and Wales (and much of the Commonwealth) judges of the higher courts are addressed as ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’ and referred to as ‘Your Lordship’ or ‘Your Ladyship’. Judges of the lower court are addressed as ‘Your Honour’ and all lower judges, magistrates, and chairs of tribunals are addressed as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’. Magistrates are still addressed as ‘Your Worship’ in South Africa. In the House of Lords, judges are called Law Lords.

To Ponder:

Do we actually need to follow such practices, when the basic philosophy of the constitution (Art.18) itself takes a view that titles are to be abolished?

In a wider perspective, judges of the yesteryears were mostly men of dignity and learning who commanded respect. But do the new generation judges deserve such respect?

Lawyers of the Kerala High Court are still reluctant in using ‘Sir’ in the High Court. Many believe that they are not addressing the Judge as a person, but his position as a presiding officer of a Constitutional Court. Is this stand valid?

Many argue that such usages bring an element of formality into the judicial process thereby ensuring respect for the system. Is this stand justified?

On a lighter note,

Isn’t the term ‘Sir’ also British?

In courts, we also come across lawyers who don’t believe in the concept of Lord (athiest) and others who believe that there is only one Lord (Christians).