Convocation robes out, students will now wear traditional attire ‘made of Indian handloom’

Lili | June 26, 2019 | 0 | Traditional

Students of Panjab University during annual convocation (representational image) | Commons

New Delhi: The Western graduation robe worn by students at convocation ceremonies will soon be a thing of the past in Indian universities, according to a circular issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The Narendra Modi government wants students to dress in traditional attire made up of Indian handloom when they receive their degrees at convocations.

The UGC circular released earlier this month has asked all universities to go traditional. It said that, “using handloom garments would give a sense of pride of being Indian”. The commission has also asked for an ‘Action Taken Report’ from the universities on this.

The letter is addressed to all private and public universities that are under the commission.

“With changing times, everything changes. Indian universities have been carrying on the British style of wearing a robe during convocations. It’s high time that we change the tradition and make it localised,” a senior UGC official said.

Wearing the Western convocation outfit — black robe and cap — wasn’t mandatory in Indian universities, but some institutions followed the practice.

‘Idea is to make convocation robe regional’

The UGC official quoted above said the idea is to make convocation attires more regional.

For example, women in Punjab could wear traditional salwar-kurtas, those in Kerala and Tamil Nadu could wear their traditional sarees and students in Himachal Pradesh could don the traditional cap and costume of the region, the official added.

A month ago, during the convocation ceremony of National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, in Himachal Pradesh, students had worn traditional outfits.

Previous Modi govt also promoted desi convocation attire

Former HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had also promoted the idea of wearing traditional Indian outfits during convocations and some institutes, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), had implemented it last year.

IITs in Roorkee, Bombay and Kanpur had last year switched to traditional Indian attire — sarees for women and kurtapajama for men. Even when Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) held its convocation earlier this year, after a gap of several years, students were seen dressed in sarees and kurtas.

However, not all universities were following the Indian dress code. But, now after the UGC circular, all varsities will have to adhere to it.

Besides the BJP, the Congress was also against the Western convocation robe.

In 2010, former UPA minister Jairam Ramesh had called the Western convocation robe a “barbaric colonial relic”. “I still have not been able to figure out after 60 years of Independence why we stick to these barbaric colonial relics,” he had said at the 7th convocation of Indian Institute of Forest Management.


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