Shunning the British legacy on dress code for convocations with the kurta and pyjama and saree and salwar kameez is gaining ground in universities
The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) decided to replace the gown of black robes and square caps with Indian traditional attire. The university authorities stated that the change would come into effect from January 11, 2019. More and more universities are shunning the colonial attire for a more traditional one.
For long, there has been a debate raging on wearing the black robes. Many academicians questioned on the relevance, as the attire does not suit the Indian climate and neither does it reflect Indian traditions.
The debate took on a new turn in 2010, when the former environment minister Jairam Ramesh shrugged off the robe in a convocation ceremony of IIFM in Bhopal and went on term the tradition a ‘barbaric colonial practice’. Since then many chancellors, vice chancellors, professors and the fraternity supported the idea.
In a latest episode, the Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu while addressing the Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University in Tirupati last month exhorted chancellors and vice-chancellors to stop wearing convocation gowns as the official graduation costume and instead wear traditional Indian attire. He was speaking at the Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University in Tirupati.
The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was the first to bid good-bye to gowns in 2013 and had students wear white sarees and kurtas. Last year IIT, Bombay decided to abandon western robes, IIT Kanpur followed suit and with the Indian Vice President’s take on wearing gowns at convocations is anything to go by, more universities are soon to adopt Indian attire.
The University Grants Commission too mooted the idea of one-country-one attire for convocation and issued an advertisement calling for professional designers and students to come up with designs for graduation ceremony. An official source said that the design should reflect Indian culture and ethos.
A few years ago, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand refused to wear a gown and a cap at convocation in stating it was a relic of the past. He said that the country should take pride in its culture and its past, in its ancient wisdom and not forget its roots. The following day, Minister for Higher Education, Dhan Singh Rawat announced that no caps and gowns would be worn and instead a traditional attire reflecting Uttarakhand would be propagated.
Institutes Droping Colonial Gown
|University of Bihar||IIT Kanpur|
|Savitribai Phule Pune University||IIT Bombay|
|Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal||IIT Kharagpur|
|Banaras Hindu University (BHU)||NIT, Trichy|
|University of Hyderabad||Gokhale Institute of Politics & Economics (GIPE)|
|Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University||Rajasthan Technical University|
|Sampuran & Sanskrit University||University of Kota|
|English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU)||Indian School of Mines|
|National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT)||NIT, Rourkela|
|Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT)||Chhattisgarh University|
|Ramtek-based Kavikulguru Kalidas Sanskrit University||Uttar Pradesh Technical University|
On the part of students, the response has been mixed. Some have welcomed the decision, while a few say that they have been dreaming as a child to don the black robes and jump over the stairs for a picture. Meghna Nath, a journalism student of Osmania University says, “It may be a colonial hangover, but if it gives happiness and makes one feel good, why not.”
Among the Indian states, Rajasthan is taking the lead. The government is keen and right from the Chief Minister to the concerned officials all agrees to replace the colonial attire.
There is also a belief that handlooms would get a new lease of life if all the Indian universities move onto traditional attire. The gown may well be gone.