Native dress code 'moral policing', alien a 'virtue'
By Amba Charan Vashishth
What an irony that when people are advised to dress property as per Indian traditions, there is a hoarse cry of 'moral policing'. But these very people are religiously obeying the dress code imposed by our alien British masters.
The National Commission of Women (NCW) on April 27, 2016 issued a show cause notice to Delhi University's Hindu college seeking an explanation about the new hostel rules which students have termed moral policing.
The rules listed in the new hostel prospectus ask students to dress as per "normal norms of the society"; warn that no visitors will be allowed without prior permission "including girl students"; allow only one night-out in a month. How can this be termed "moral policing?" What should one call the absence of it?
Would the NCW have found nothing offensive if the new rules provided students to dress against the "normal norms of the society"? Girl students should be allowed "without prior permission" in the boys hostels?
In no educational institution, Hindu College included, is staying in the college hostel mandatory. Students have the liberty to stay out where there is no 'moral policing'. But if they wish to stay in the hostel, they have to stand by the rules. Should it not the college management, but the students who should frame the rules? Such a scenario is unheard of even in the most permissive democracies in the world. Can the opponents visualise the consequences of the absence of 'moral policing'?
The opponents of "moral policing" are privy to promoting western culture and values as against the Indian ones and encouraging young girls and women to be "bold" which, in effect, means shedding as much clothes as they wish and can and exposing their bodies as much as they feel proud of. Looking beautiful is out of fashion these days; looking sexy is the latest fad.
It is a hot ticket to oppose whenever anybody calls for adherence to Indian traditions, way of life, dress and values. India remained a slave to foreign rule for over 1000/1200 years and they did everything to demean Indian culture and traditions. Even after about 69 years of freedom, we still seem not to have been able to come out of those slavish grooves. The invaders tried to hammer into our head that the Indian culture, various faiths, way of life, morals and traditions are much much inferior to the alien ones. They wanted us to forego what India stood for. Many, though only a fraction of our population, did so for fear and favour. It will, therefore, be no an exaggeration to say that we continue to suffer from that inferiority complex. Everything that is un-Indian and western, and against the Indian traditions and culture is welcome to them.
They cry hoarse at the 'dress code' today, but not against the one alien British rulers imposed and which we continue to religiously obey even today for courts, hospitals, offices, in the then Viceroy's House (now Rashtrapati Bhawan), Governor's houses, military messes, airlines, railways.
It is a legacy of our slavish past that judges and lawyers are required to put on black gowns and coats even when the mercury in Delhi and other cities rises above 40-480. The chancellor, vice-chancellor, chief guest, the students are made to wear special gowns and dresses on the occasion of convocation of the universities and colleges.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) was imposed by the then British rulers to suit their designs. Since independence we have not been able to attune it to India's cultural traditions and changing needs.
Irony is that we pounce upon what is negative in the western way of life, system of government and law but everything positive there is repulsive to us.
There are clubs in the country where a dress code is strictly enforced. In a prestigious club in Shimla which had it birth during the British rule, the dress code is so strict that the attendant there has the right to ask even a member to leave the premises if not properly dressed as per club rules.
This makes clearly manifest that the cry of our 'secular-liberal-democrats' is restricted to areas where individuals, organisations and institutions wish people to attire themselves elegantly and decently in keeping with India's culture and traditions.
Going by the recent trends in India, it looks every Indian tradition is orthodox, obnoxious and barbaric which must be broken making way for new ones. Even the political and constitutional traditions evolved since independence are made to crumble and violated. On the other hand, Britain has no written Constitution of its own. The government of the country is run on the strength of healthy traditions that were evolved — and religiously followed — in the course of time to meet exigencies of administration during the last so many centuries. The British do not agitate for doing away with the age-old traditions. On the contrary, they take pride in those traditions. What will happen if the Britishers too, like Indians, started demolishing their rich social, legal and constitutional traditions?
For the British their traditions are a valuable national asset, for Indians these are stale and rotten which must be demolished and shunted to the archives of our inglorious past. This is so because the British never remained slave and were expansionist and colonial in their attitude. India, on the other side, never entertained expansionist designs and remained slave to foreign rulers for many centuries.
Since Independence India has only evolved itself into a permissive society where family, social and religious traditions are meant to be smashed. As a result, the institution of family is crumbling. Fidelity between husband and wife is giving way to licentious relations between consenting adult persons. Married life is giving way to live-in relationship with the liberty to change partner like changing hotel and room any time one likes. Sticking to life partner is becoming an old-fashioned orthodox way of life; divorce is the in-thing. Looking after one's parents who looked after their children for so long is no longer a moral obligation. The guru-shishya (teacher-student) tradition is being given a go-bye. Now teachers are being punished if they punish or even scold students for not doing their home work and learning some lesson.
To where is the country being drifted?