PATNA: A new dress code approved for convocation ceremonies in the universities of Bihar has bid goodbye to the "colonial legacy" of black gowns and caps in favour of the Malaviya pagdi (turban), kurta-pyjama and shalwar-kameez.
In a move that has prompted the Opposition RJD and some educationists to cry "saffronisation of higher education," the office of Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon has ordered that all universities in the state must adopt the new set of attire during convocation ceremonies.
As the state's Governor, Tandon is the ex-officio chancellor of all universities in Bihar. As per the notified guidelines, everyone attending the convocation ceremony - chancellor, guests and passing-out students - has to wear a Malaviya turban.
While the chancellor will wear a white turban, the guests and students will wear turbans of lemon-yellow shade. The new dress code for gentlemen graduates has to be either white kurta pajama or white dhoti kurta. For lady graduates, it has to be either white salwar and lemon-yellow kurta or a lemon-yellow sari. A yellow angavastram has been made mandatory for everyone on the convocation podium - chancellor, vice-chancellor, chief guest and the graduating students.
This new set of attire was recommended by a three-member committee that was formed by Tandon's predecessor, Satya Pal Malik, in July to suggest a "swadeshi dress code" for convocation ceremonies. Sources said Malik could not peruse the recommendations as he got transferred as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir last month. Tandon, who took his place on August 23, approved the new dress code and ordered for its implementation.
Sources said the Malaviya turban was the idea of Malik, which the committee retained. Madan Mohan Malaviya, eminent educationist and founder of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), always wore the turban. He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna in 2014 by the NDA government.
The committee, comprising vice-chancellors of three varsities in Bihar, reportedly arrived at the final list of attires after several rounds of consultations with the faculty members of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Patna."The idea behind this dress code is to Indianise the convocation ceremony attire by giving up the sartorial baggage of the colonial era. The Malaviya turbans may sport motifs from Sujani artwork that originated in Bihar," said a senior official of the Governor's office.
Opposition RJD leader Bhai Birendra termed the order for the new dress code as a "Talibani diktat". "Such interferences indicate that the government is going forward with its formula for saffronisation of higher education. They are keen to implement the agenda of RSS," he said. While BJP leaders unanimously praised the new dress code, JD(U) appeared to have reservations.
"Although there is no harm in wearing Malaviya turbans during convocations, the chancellor's office should focus more on the development of higher education in the state," said senior JD(U) leader and MLA Shyam Razak.