The title babu, also spelled baboo, is used in South Asia as a sign of respect towards men. It is a derivation of bapu which means father or grandfather. The honorific "ji" is sometimes added as a suffix to create the double honorific "babuji" which, in northern and eastern parts of India, is a term of respect for one's father. "Babuji" can also be used as a term of respect for any respected elder or man. In some Indian states, "babu" is also used as a generic word of respect to address men, especially unknown ones, e.g., "Babu, can you help me?"
In Bengali, "babu" is used as suffix to a person's name to show respect while calling him by name, e.g., "Mohan Babu, could you please come here!" The term "babu" may be suffixed to a person's name, but the term "babuji" is always used by itself. In the Saurashtra language, "babu" may refer to a younger brother (sibling), or it can be used more broadly, similar to the terms fellow or brethren, but, only in reference to those younger than oneself.
In British India, babu often referred to a native Indian clerk. The word was originally used as a term of respect attached to a proper name, the equivalent of "mister", and "babuji" was used in many parts to mean "sir". Since early 20th-century, the term babu is frequently used pejoratively to refer to bureaucrats of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and other government officials, especially by the Indian media, while the Indian bureaucracy is called "babudom", as in the "rule of babus", especially in India media.
"Babu" also means grandfather in Swahili, like "papu" in Greek. It is cognate with "baba" in Slavic languages, and ultimately with "papa" in Germanic and Romance languages. In Nepali, Eastern Hindi/Bihari, Bengali, Telugu, and Oriya languages, it is a means of calling with love and affection to spouses or younger brothers, sons, grandsons etc.
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- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Babu". Encyclopædia Britannica 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "babu, n". OED Online. Oxford Univeristy Press. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Yet to start work, Natgrid CEO highest paid babu". The Times of India. Aug 23, 2012. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
- Anand Parthasarathy (Sep 1–14, 2001). "A barbed look at babudom: Will the typically British humour of Yes Minister work if transplanted to an Indian setting? Viewers of a Hindi satellite channel have a chance to find out.". Frontline, India's National Magazine from the publishers of The Hindu.
Bureaucracy knows no bounds...
- "PM Modi tightens screws, gives babudom a new rush hour". The Times of India. Sep 2, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
- "Babu". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
- See babu in Wiktionary.
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