Quite a few times now, from my working with Indians, I've had most of them refer to me as "Dear". A common occurrence is when I am chatting on social media or speaking on the phone.
Though where I come from it is mostly used as a word of affection unless in emails or friendly letters, I got used to it but now that I will be travelling there I was wondering how the word is used there. Can I just walk up to a random stranger and refer to them as dear or is it just close friends? Is it even used in the same context as I have described among majority of Indians?
EDIT: I am a man and have mostly worked with Indian men so I find it a bit odd in this situation. A simple example would be when starting a phone call where the person would just receive the call and say "Hello Dear!" or when starting a chat conversation with the same greetings. I mostly use the term when referring to very close female friends or family so at first I found it a bit strange.