Uniform in Rajasthan government schools to change again
The uniform for students of government-run schools in Rajasthan will change again, three years after the former BJP government introduced one that was identical to the RSS uniform.
State education minister Govind Singh Dotasara said the decision to change the school uniform was taken on the recommendation of a six-member committee. “The committee considered complaints of parents and school teachers about the uniform introduced during the BJP government in 2017, to recommend a change,” he said.
The committee was yet to recommend a colour but the new uniform will become applicable from next academic session (2021-22), officials said.
Since 1997, the uniforms in the state’s government schools had been blue shirt and khaki shorts or trousers for boys and blue kurta and white salwar or skirt for girls. In 2017, this was changed to light brown shirt and brown trousers or shorts for boys, and light brown kurta or shirt with brown salwar or skirt for girls.
A senior government functionary said the colour of the trousers and salwar was identical to the RSS uniform introduced in 2016 and the Congress government’s decision to change it was a political agenda.
As a matter of fact, the education department had collected samples from Bhilwara, the textile town that supplied cloth for the first lot of new uniforms of the right-wing organisation, to ensure that the shade of brown matched exactly with that of the RSS uniform.
Former education minister Vasudev Devnani had said that the decision to redesign the uniform was taken to make children of government schools as “elegant” as their private school counterparts, and added that the objective was to boost their confidence.
The Congress government decided to change the RSS-like uniform for a political reason, said an officer of the department who was present in the meeting with the education minister on Tuesday, requesting anonymity.
“Some of us suggested to the minister that it was not an appropriate time to effect a change in uniform when there was so much uncertainty about reopening of schools. But the minister persisted, saying the government could give the relaxation of not making the new uniform mandatory for a year,” the officer said.
The six-member committee that recommended the change was headed by joint secretary Rajesh Verma; the members were Munni Ram Bagaria, additional state project director of Samgra Shiksha Abhiyaan; Mukesh Sharma, deputy director in Bikaner; Ramchandra Pilania, district education officer of Jaipur; Annu Choudhary, principal of Mahatma Gandhi English-medium School in Mansarovar, Jaipur; and OSD to education minister.
The change in uniform will affect about eight million students in 64,000 government schools.
Devnani slammed the decision, calling it shameful. “It is shameful to change a uniform which was introduced after discussion with students and teachers and to give students a sense of pride, only to please one’s high command,” he said, adding that the decision will put financial burden on parents some of whom have lost their livelihoods during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The education minister was made the president of Pradesh Congress Committee during the political turmoil arising out of rebellion by 18 Congress legislators led by Sachin Pilot. Political observers said in keeping with the one-man-one-post principle, he may be moved out of the cabinet so Dotasara seemed to be in a hurry to make political decisions in the department.