Rajasthan Edu Commissionerate’s Dress Code directive draws ire

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: March 9, 2018
College going girls in Rajasthan may find themselves in an awkward position in the upcoming academic session as the choice of uniform available to them may get limited to either a saree or a salwar kameez.

In a letter dated March 4, the Commissionerate of College Education in Rajasthan has directed all the state-run colleges to introduce a dress code that can be implemented from the next academic session. While it has already chosen the dress code, it has directed the colleges to discuss the 'colour' of the uniform for both boys and girls. The dress code decided for girls-namely salwar-suit, chunni, sweater or cardigan, saree, shoes/sandals and socks is especially troubling forcing an almost dictatorial view on how the girls should dress. The dress code for boys includes shirt, pant, jersey (in winters), shoes, socks and belt. The preferred colour of the uniform needs to be discussed and sent to the Commissionerate by March 12.
There are around 400,000 students, including 175,000 women, in government colleges in Rajasthan.

Understandably, the order has drawn flak from progressive sections. People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) leader Kavita Srivastava said the government wants to “clip the students' freedom to wear what they want.” The PUCL also expressed that limiting the girls' clothing to just salwar and saree and blouse in these times when girls are wearing trousers, jeans, t-shirt, skirts, ghaghara, palazzos etc , is like throttling their freedom to choose how they wish to express themselves.” PUCL has termed the order “unconstitutional, retrogressive, patriarchal and authoritarian step”
Kavita Srivastava also termed the directive a RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh agenda of imposing its value system of “achi and buriaurat.”

PUCL was not the only one to react sharply on the order. Former chairperson of Rajasthan State Commission for Women Lad Kumari Jain too found the move regressive, she said “Tomorrow the government may ask women to come to colleges in veils. Which age are we living in? Do we want to push our women back to medieval times,”

However, Higher Education Minister Kiran Maheshwari said that the government is willing to accept other uniforms if the colleges write to them. “It will be better if we have some uniform which will help us identify who is a college student and who is an outsider” she said, while talking to The Indian Express.

The PUCL has demanded an immediate withdrawal of the circular.