Rajasthan govt orders women to wear salwar kameez/saree; choice now only on colours

Order to affect male students too as they can only wear shirt and trousers; no jeans.

Fateh Veer Singh Guram @ The Hush Post: While the entire country is celebrating women’s achievements and women power today, the Rajasthan College Education Directorate feels giving women too much freedom can severely endanger society. Thus, they have issued “guidelines” over the dress code that women students need to follow. According to these guidelines, female students can only wear salwar kameez or saree and blouse while their male counterparts can only wear a shirt and trousers.

The Directorate sent out the circular to all 219 government run colleges in Rajasthan. However, the decision to finalise the colour code was to be taken by the respective colleges. The decision is to be finalised by March 12.

The notification attracted a lot of negative views from a large section of the society. Many people demanded the immediate withdrawal of the notification, and termed it “medieval” and “oppressive”.

Questioning the move, Lad Kumari Jain, former chairperson of the Rajasthan State Commission for Women said that while today the government wants women to come in salwar kameez, tomorrow it might want them to cover themselves in a veil. “Where does this stop?” she asked.

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties took particular exception to the move and was scathing in its criticism. It termed the move “unconstitutional and patriarchal.”

Sharing her views, PUCL General Secretary, Kavita Srivastav said “The administration is stifling the students’ choice of wearing what they want. Forcing women to wear salwar kameez or a saree in an age when women are comfortable in wearing jeans and shirts/t-shirts is akin to throttling their freedom to decide what to wear and how to express themselves.”

“It is naive to think that the youth cannot make an informed choice about the clothes she wants to wear, but can decide about the future of the country by voting for her favourite party”, she further added.

She also targeted the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh for allegedly interfering in academic institutions and meddling with the freedom of students. “The Sangh is imposing its own version of values and defining ‘acchi and buri aurat’ as per its own whims and fancies.”

Last year, the colour of the school uniform in government schools in Rajasthan was changed to light brown colour shirts and dark brown colour trousers. Critics pointed out that this was very similar to the colour of the uniforms of the RSS workers.

Kiran Maheshwari, the state education minister, defended the move, however. Stating that the decision was taken based on a demand by students themselves, she said “students demanded for a uniform to check entry of outsiders in colleges. This demand was raised by them during a youth dialogue programme. Choice has been given to women, for they can decide between wearing a salwar kameez or a saree.”

There are nearly four lakh students in Rajasthan state colleges, of which about 1,75,000 are women.

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