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Uniform for uniformity: Everything official about it

world Updated: Jul 07, 2011 00:16 IST
Utpal Parashar

Dashain, Nepal’s biggest festival is still three months away. But tailors and cloth store owners in the country are already smiling their ways to the bank. And it’s the Daura Suruwal, the Himalayan nation’s national dress, that’s the reason behind this sudden burst of early festivity.

Come July 17 — beginning of the new fiscal year — civil servants in all offices would be seen wearing a new dress code as per a recent government decision to bring about uniformity. Henceforth there would be no difference among senior bureaucrats and peons — at least in their attires.

The topmost official may alight from his Pajero and the one carrying his files reach office on a bicycle, but once inside the government buildings it would be difficult to tell them apart from what’s on their persons. And here’s what one could expect to see them attired in.

Male civil servants would wear the national dress with a cap or dark blue suit accompanied by a white shirt and tie (it’s not a must) and black shoes. And their women colleagues would be seen in shirt and trousers, sari and blouse or kurta-salwar of dark blue hue and a deep violet shawl.

There would be variations considering Nepal’s diverse topography. The coat would not be compulsory for men in the warm Terai plains and civil servants of both sexes working in the cold hilly regions can wear jackets.

But the decision to make uniform mandatory for all 78,000 government employees would not come cheap. An annual dress allowance of NRs 7500 per employee would cost the cash-strapped exchequer NRs 0.5 billion every year.

The uniform code has given a fresh lease of life to the Daura Suruwal, a centuries old dress that gained popularity after Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana wore it during his successful trip to Britain and France in 1850.

It became the national dress in 1961 and was made compulsory for senior government officials. But with time Daura Suruwal’s popularity started waning and it remained in vogue only during official functions. The old breed of politicians however continued patronizing the dress.

Now with the government’s dress code in place, it’s set to make a visible comeback. There has been no complain against the move yet and business is booming for Rastriya Daura Suruwal, a tailoring establishment in Kathmandu specialising in the national dress.