Dalit students reject ethnic dress code, want formal attire for convocation
The dalit students of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University here have rejected the dress code of kurta pyjama for the convocation. They have requested the vice chancellor to allow them to receive their degrees in formal attire as a mark of respect to Dr BR Ambedkar. However, the university has refused to oblige them.
The BBAU convocation is scheduled on November 11.
“We, Ambedkar University Dalit Student Union (AUDSU) members, have received a notification about the convocation to be held by the university for which some of us have also submitted consent,” reads a letter by the dalit students.
“The dress code for the convocation only includes white kurta and pyjama. However, there are many students who would like to receive their degrees in formal attire as a mark of respect to Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar whose principles the university strives to promote and uphold,” reads the letter.
According to dalit students, the mandatory dress code of kurta-pyjama would deprive these students of their right to express their respect towards the great man who was responsible for the education and empowerment of marginalised sections of society.
They said Babasaheb Ambedkar would always wear formal attire as a manifestation of his belief in modernity premised on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Allowing students to do the same would amount to upholding the principles and following democratic conventions for university occasions. “In the same spirit we request you to allow formal attire as part of the dress code for the convocation.
“We reiterate that as a university which upholds and promotes the values of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, we earnestly hope that you will pay heed to the request and oblige,” the letter reads.
The university, however, rejected the demand of the students. University spokesperson Rachna Gangwar said, “The dress code prescribed for the convocation was approved by the university’s academic council and students have been coming to the convocation wearing kurta-pyjama since 2017. The demand of the students is in no way justified.”
In the past, people have raised voices against use of ceremonial robe for convocation as it was a practice introduced by the British. In his convocation address at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University here in 2010, missile man APJ Abdul Kalam had said that “the foreign inspired gown should go” while pitching for a more ethnic dress on the lines of Lucknow’s famous chikankari.
In 2014, the then governor Ram Naik had also insisted on bringing about a change. Soon thereafter, the University Grants Commission (UGC) requested all vice-chancellors to promote the use of handloom fabrics for convocation gowns.
According to the commission, handloom clothes not only instill pride of being Indian but are also more comfortable in hot and humid weather. Greater use of handloom fabrics would promote the country’s handloom sector, it said.