The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay has chosen khadi angavastrams, a Hindu traditional white piece of cloth or stole, for the convocation ceremony of its graduating batch.
The move is aimed at evoking a feeling of nationalism in students as khadi is a “national symbol”, IIT-Bombay director Devang Khakhar said.
Sources said the institute has ordered 3,500 angavastrams made of honey comb towel cotton khadi. Students will drape the piece of cloth over their clothes to mark the occasion.
Khadi has been at the centre of Narendra Modi’s plan of reviving the traditional textile industry and the Prime Minister has repeatedly exhorted the public to increase its use of the fabric, especially through his monthly radio address, Mann ki Baat.
But the decision is expected to reignite allegations that the government is trying to saffronise education and introduce Hindu elements in top institutions to bolster its cultural agenda.
Earlier this year, Gujarat Technological University made khadi compulsory for its convocation.
“IIT-Mumbai chooses khadi as their convocation robe. After Gujarat University, now khadi has also made a niche in the hearts of authorities of premiere Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai,” said a statement by the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises.
Officials from IIT-Kharagpur said that they were also considering introducing khadi for convocations. “Our objective is always to promote local artisans who require encouragement from people like us. Swadeshi means many things including khadi. So our options are open,” said a senior official from IIT Kharagpur.
Officials in the HRD ministry said they had not asked any IITs to follow it and they take such decisions independently.
A senior official from IIT-Delhi said they had not decided whether to go for khadi-made convocation robes. “Our convocation will be held in the later part of the year and we haven’t taken any decision yet”.
The release described the decision as a significant development that showed that khadi was gaining ground in every sphere of life.