The new school dress for students of government-run schools in Rajasthan will have a tinge of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the ideological fountainhead of the state’s ruling party, the BJP.
Education minister Vasudev Devnani told HT that from the next academic session boys will have light brown shirt and brown trousers or shorts and girls will wear light brown kurta or shirt with brown salwar or skirt.
A senior government functionary, however, added that the colour of the trousers/ short and salwar was identical to the new RSS uniform introduced in 2016.
Since 1997, the colour codes of uniforms in more than 67,000 government schools in the state have been blue shirt and khaki shorts or trousers for boys and blue kurta and white salwar or skirt for girls.
Now boys will have light brown shirt and brown trousers or shorts and girls will wear light brown kurta or shirt with brown salwar or skirt.
To ensure that the shade of brown exactly matches with that of the RSS uniform, the education department is collecting samples from Bhilwara, the textile town that supplied clothes for the first lot of new uniforms of the right-wing organisation.
Director of secondary education BL Swarnkar in an order, a copy of which is procured by the HT, made district secondary education officer of Bhilwara a nodal officer for collecting 50 samples of brown shorts, trousers, salwars, skirts and chunnis.
The state’s education department is already in the midst of a controversy for changing textbooks to include personalities associated with the Hindutva ideology – such as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Veer Savarkar – and to reduce content on country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The decision to redesign the uniform was taken to make children of government schools as “elegant” as their counterparts from the private schools, Devnani said, adding the objective is to give them a sense of confidence.
The government earlier formed a five-member committee headed by department’s joint secretary to decide the colour of the new uniform.
The minister said all the schools were notified about the new colour codes, which would come into effect from next academic session, beginning July.
Coincidentally, the RSS had taken the decision to change its trademark attire of khaki shorts to brown trousers at a convention of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the organisation’s highest decision-making body, held in Rajasthan in March last year.
Devnani, however, refused to buy the contention that the new colour codes of the school uniforms are inspired by the RSS attire.
“The committee decided the colour on the basis of several options available to it. The government did not interfere in its decision,” he said.
He said the idea to redesign the uniform was mooted by schools and parents.
For the first time, the government schools had two parent-teacher meetings, in September 2016 and January 2017, in which more than 3 million parents participated.
“The change of uniform was one of the many suggestions given in the meeting,” the minister said.
There are 8.5 million students in 67,137 government schools in Rajasthan.
SDMC meetings to be held on amavasyas
In another decision that has a Hindu connotation, the government has fixed amavasya, the no-moon day, for the meeting of school development and management committee (SDMC), a body of teachers, parents, students and elected representatives to decide on the institute’s development and management issues.
Each school has a 23-member SDMC.
For Hindus the day has a religious importance. Many Hindu women fast on amavasya that falls on Mondays. It’s also considered inauspicious by many to embark on any journey on the day. Many Hindu aasons and carpenters don’t work on the day of amavasya.
Devnani justified the decision saying, “We took the decision to ensure full attendance because even workers are available on this day.”
Hitherto, there was no fixed day for an SDMC meeting in schools.