In an attempt to ‘discipline’ college students, the Rajasthan Higher Education Department issued a notification that calls for the imposition of a strict dress code for the college students of the state, from the academic year 2018-19. This move by the state government is not just being criticized by the Congress, who has termed it as “saffronization” of colleges, but also by students across the state.
The Commissionerate of College Education had notified around 219 colleges across the state on March 4 asking the respective principals to decide on the colour code for the uniforms of the male and female students enrolled at their colleges. The college officials were requested to revert with their choices of colours by March 12.
The notification mandates the girls to be dressed in salwar suit with chunni or dupatta, or saree, teamed with formal shoes/ sandals and socks. For winter, the girls have to wear cardigans of prescribed colours. The dress code for the boys consists of shirt, trousers, sweater during winters, shoes, socks and belt.
Ever since the minutes after the directive were issued and the colleges contacted the union leaders to get feedback on the colour, students across the state have been seething in anger. “Throughout our school days, we wear uniforms. And now in colleges too! This is just not fair. At least as adults, we should be given some freedom to wear clothes of our choice to colleges. Let me tell you, there is not a single student out of the 4, 00,000 students enrolled at the state-run colleges who is supporting this order. It’s draconian and we shall oppose this move of the government,” said Rahul Sharma, the General Secretary of the Student Union, Rajasthan University.
Echoing the same sentiment was Sunita Maheshwari, a higher secondary student. She said, “I am so disappointed with this decision. I am appearing for my board examinations and will soon be enrolling for one of the graduation programmes offered by the state colleges. I was extremely excited about it and was all set to do some shopping for it in New Delhi. Now, I am lost. This is not done. At least at colleges, there should be no uniforms. Wearing coloured clothes and flashing fashion accessories are major attractions for college days.”
Many have termed this move as ‘unconstitutional’. The General Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) termed the decision to have uniforms for college students authoritarian and retrogressive. She stated, “How can the directorate issue a circular that aims to curtail the students’ right to wear clothes of their choice.”
“How dare the directorate issue this circular and clip the students’ freedom to wear what they want. At a time when girls wear jeans, t-shirts and palazzos, asking them to wear salwar kameez and sarees to colleges could be considered to be as good as throttling their freedom,” she added. Kavita went on to add, “We are not letting the youths to wear what they want when they have the right to choose any party of their choice during elections.”
Coming to the defence of the government’s move to have a ‘dress code’ for colleges, the state higher education minister Kiran Maheshwari said, “The students themselves had been demanding for a dress code to curtail outsiders from lurking within the college premises. We have introduced uniforms to have clarity on the students’ identities.”
Echoing the same sentiment was Md Ameen, the Director of Programme at Maulana Azad University in Jodhpur. Speaking to edInbox, he said, “It’s a great move. Most private colleges, have dress codes. So, I don’t really see any harm in having a dress code for government colleges as well. We, at MAU, have had uniforms right from its inception. However, we have different colour codes for different sections. This is very helpful to monitor kids when they plan to bunk classes. Uniforms will boost college attendances as now the youngsters won’t be able to bunk classes.” He then added, “The peer pressure to wear expensive clothes and carry high-end smart phones often compel the students to resort to wrong means like chain snatching or stealing. I feel that this move to have uniforms will be a good one. Students should approve of it.”
Reporting by Shabina Akhtar Special Correspondent, Jaipur