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Uttarakhand govt refers to ancient texts for graduation robe’s desi version

The government wants to change the black robe-and-cap – a tradition brought in by the British – with something more Indian, and is looking to see what ancient Indian education organisations followed.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2017 08:14 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Anupam Trivedi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
BJP,Uttarakhand,Ceremonial graduation robes
The BJP-led government is researching on attires adorned in Takshila and other Vedic-based school systems.(Nitin Kanotra / HT File Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttarakhand is looking at ancient Hindu religious texts to find a replacement for the ceremonial robe introduced by the British for college graduation ceremonies.

The black robe-and-cap attire has been a subject of debate since a long time with many denouncing it as a relic of India’s colonial past and has gained currency since the BJP-led government assumed power at the Centre in 2014.

Uttarakhand’s higher education minster Dhan Singh Rawat said the government was in touch with experts to find out the attire people wore during academic convocations in ancient India.

“We are finding out about the dresses that were sported in Takshila,” he told HT on Saturday, referring to one of the earliest known universities dating back to 1000 BCE. Takshila is situated in present-day Rawalpindi in Pakistan.

“Moreover, in the Skanda Purana, there is a mention of an acharyakulam (school based on Vedic education) in Uttarakhand. It would be interesting to know what ceremonial dresses were in fashion in those times,” he added. The Skanda Purana is one of the earliest Vedic religious texts.

He said the government will form a form a committee that would give suggestions on a suitable dress for convocations.

The state government’s move came days after chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat refused to wear the ceremonial robe during the convocation of the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun.

The CM’s refusal had stunned dignitaries including Rawat, Union human resource development minister minister Prakash Jawedkar and governor KK Paul, who had donned the ceremonial dress.

In a series of tweets, the CM asked people to suggest whether the traditional ‘pichoda’ (women’s dress) and ‘payjama-kurta, jacket and cap’ (men’s dress) could be a substitute.

“I also made it a point to not wear academical dress traditionally worn during convocation- i feel we need to have our own indic dress! (sic),” Rawat tweeted on Saturday.

Though the education minister said the state “will lead by example” on the issue, Uttarakhand is not the first to implement such an idea.

Earlier this year, another BJP-ruled state Madhya Pradesh said it will introduce a ‘Bhartiya Paridhan’ – Indian dress -- for convocations of universities of the state.

This week, students of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur also attended their graduation ceremony in ethnic Indian wear.

The debate over the convocation robe started in 2010 when former environment minister Jairam Ramesh shrugged off the dress in a convocation ceremony of IIFM in Bhopal, terming it as a “barbaric colonial practice”.

First Published: Jun 17, 2017 19:35 IST