The title babu, also spelled baboo, is used in the Indian subcontinent as a sign of respect towards men. In some cultures, the term 'Babu' is a term of endearment for a loved one as well. 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 Bangla and Maithili, babu is used as a suffix to a person's name to show respect while calling him by name, for example, "Mohan babu, could you please come here?". In Bengal, the word Babu or Babushona is used more broadly, meaning baby or a little kid or one's child, especially to younger kids.[clarification needed] In the Saurashtra language, babu may refer to a younger brother, male, (sibling). The term "babu" may be suffixed to a person's name - for example, Rosebabu to refer to someone called Rose - but the term "babuji" is always used by itself.
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" as an address of a gentleman; their life-style was also called "babu culture". They enjoyed a number of privileges for being in the service of the British Raj. The British officials treated them as workers who had both Indian and British connections. Since the mid-twentieth 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's media.
"Babu" in Swahili is 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, Bhojpuri, Maithili,Bengali, Telugu, and Oriya languages, it is a means of calling with love and affection to spouses or younger brothers, sons, grandsons etc. It can be found in the urban trend to call "babu" to girlfriends or boyfriends, or common-friends to symbolize deep love or dearness. In many Bengali families fathers and sons are usually named babu, as a matter of intimacy, with daughters or mothers.
On the island of Mauritius the word Babu-ji refers to the Kshatriya caste within the Indo-Mauritian community. This community consists mainly of Bihari Mauritians whose ancestors landed on the island as Coolies or indentured sugar cane field labourers during the 1810-1968 British colonial rule.
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- Babu Saheb, regional title used in Bihar and neighbouring states.
- Reddy (title)
- Babuji (disambiguation)
- Babu (disambiguation)
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- "babu, n". OED Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
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Bureaucracy knows no bounds...
- "PM Modi tightens screws, gives babudom a new rush hour". The Times of India. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Babu". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- See babu in Wiktionary.
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