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Hanging by a thread

india Updated: Apr 05, 2010 21:59 IST

Hindustan Times
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The Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, has caused a flutter by disrobing in public. Before you have a fit, the poor man merely flung off a convocation robe at a university function declaring that we should not dress like medieval vicars and should dress in comfortable clothes. Now this is no shirt off our backs, but Guru Ghasidas Central University agrees with the green tsar and has said that henceforth, convocation attire will consist of kurta-pajama with a traditional pagri (headgear). With this, Mr Ramesh who has not been able to plug the ozone layer has opened up a vast gamut of sartorial possibilities for graduation ceremonies.

For example, those of us from the south could attire ourselves in mundus and angavastrams. What a novel way to showcase our native dress. Of course, the brown sahibs from Calcutta may turn up in coattails and top hats but then who are we to complain? The problem will arise when, say, those who are the arbiters of all things cultural like uber Marathi manoos Bal Thackeray may decree what constitutes the appropriate dress for sons of the soil. Each state has different types of traditional dress, so what are we to wear? What if you were graduating from a fashion institute? Would you wear Balenciaga or Dior? We can already see an almighty kerfuffle ensuing. If, as dear Mr Ramesh says, we must fling off these appurtenances of a barbaric colonial past, should he be speaking in English? Imagine corporate moghul Ratan Tata running around in full Parsi regalia. So in addition to our differences over caste, creed, ethnicity, language, political affiliations and sexual orientations, we can now have one more, that our wardrobes.

The fabric of a nation certainly hangs by its threads. Who knows, this could lead to a new couture line in convocation wear. Anything is possible now that the uncapped crusader has raised the coat of arms against conforming.