No caps or gowns for convocation: A Break From Colonialism?
Students in Uttarakhand universities are now bidding farewell to convocation caps and gowns.
Following the refusal of CM Trivedra Singh Rawat to wear a robe and cap during a city college convocation ceremony, an attempt is being made to ban caps and gowns during the convocation ceremony for graduates. Instead, a special dress representing Uttarakhandi culture and tradition will be worn.
Is the move to ban caps and gowns a welcome break from colonialism or an unwanted action that will prevent Indian education from reaching global norms? Let's see which side has more merit, in this battle between colonial Western influences and indigenisation. Yes 1. Relic of a Colonial Past
India was once a colony for British. They left behind relics of their past right from the education system to the administration. Now, a refreshing step is being taken to ban caps and gowns, creating awareness about the need for promoting Indian identities. Caps and gowns are a relic of India's past and do not deserve to be part of its educational future. 2. Promoting Indian Culture
Special dresses will now be worn to the convocation showcasing Uttarakhandi tradition and culture.
A purely Indian attire adds to the spirit of promoting Indianization and has value for adding to the rich cultural legacy of the nation. 3. A Visible Change
Rather than just making cosmetic changes to promote Indianization, the effort is now to prepare an attire which represents Indian culture and tradition. The dress will provide a glimpse of Uttarakhand and the visible change will now take place in colleges and universities. The dress code for convocation is a foreign legacy which must be shown the door. 4. Part of a Wider Move
The Uttarakhand government has made this move part of wider efforts to promote Indian culture and this includes reciting the national anthem, national song and hoisting the tri color in higher educational institutions. No 1. Political Gimmick
The move is a political stunt to remain in the limelight. The CM should instead focus on improving the quality of education rather than just talking about a traditional dress. This includes the nature of courses imparted, the vocational and employment outcomes, a proper placement procedure and a strict emphasis on education that promotes value for the student and character building for the nation. 2. Colonialism Very Much Rampant
The colonial past of our country continues to haunt its present, right from the outdated and outmoded bureaucratic system to the colonial architecture that dots some of the top cities of India such as Delhi, Kolkata and Madras. If an effort has to be made to pull away from the colonial past, it is essential that these aspects be taken care of, rather than just banning caps and gowns at a convocation. 3. Who decides What is Traditional or Colonial?
Another question is who gets to decide whether the caps and gowns are a symbol of India's colonial past. Should the demand not come from the students themselves, rather than the education ministry? Foisting an Uttarakhand national costume will not change the Western ways of Indian students, right from the gadgets to the ever popular blue jeans. Final Word
Finally, the essential point here is that this is just a start. The steps could be taken by other institutions and states to make changes too. Eventually, India must outgrow its colonial past, if it has to progress like other cities such as Hong Kong, which have shed their British image and modernised to keep up with the times. IIT Kanpur also recently directed students to wear ethnic attire such as churidars, kurtas and pyjamas in a bid to move past colonial tradition. British time gowns and caps should certainly not be a symbol of Indian education. But the real change has to come from the students themselves, not the education ministry!