The Jayalalithaa government's move against dhoti/ native dress ban raises other issues
news Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute| August 6 2014| 3.40 pm ISTÂ The Tamil Nadu government has introduced a bill in the state assembly barring associations, trusts, clubs, companies and societies from banning the dhoti or veshti and other traditional attire. Defying the ban can attract a fine of Rs 25,000 and a year in prison. The bill says, "No person, wearing a veshti reflecting Tamil culture or any other Indian traditional dress, shall be denied entry into any public place, by reason only of his dress, provided that the dress shall be worn in a decent manner.â€™ This follows an incident last month where the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association stopped a judge from entering the club as he was wearing a dhoti. The Tamil Nadu incident is neither rare nor new. The late artist Maqbool Fida Hussein who walked around bare-feet was barred entry into posh clubs in India â€“ a practice all these places hold dear, come hell or high water.Â Read- Club denies judge entry for wearing dhoti, issue raised in state assembly Clubs in Bangalore, Delhi and Calcutta too follow the same practice and some donâ€™t even allow combination suits even if itâ€™s a Corneliani or an Armani imposing silly rules that pants and jackets must be in one colour!Â One club in Bangalore, in pursuit of cleanliness, insisted that all their food-serving staff wear white gloves. The stupidity of the practice dawned on them only after the white gloves had first turned yellow and then brown. Mercifully, that part of cloth was abandoned. The veshti versus pants however, raised a deeper malaise that Indians have with themselves, unable to recognize what is good in their customs and what must be discarded. Eating with cutlery, elaborate table settings, glasses for each course of the meal are all interesting things about which people must learn, as important as why food is served in a certain order in India in large plates and why people eat with their fingers. Ignorance wrapped as culture is worse than honest ignorance. Former Supreme court judge, Justice V R Krishna Iyer was turned back by Gymkhana club in Chennai in the 1980s and he had reacted to the recent incident saying, â€˜Regrettably our culture has suffered an alien syndrome that foreign costume makes us comfortable while Indian apparel makes us feel backward.Â Read- Let us be dhoti proud- Justice V R Krishna Iyer It is only when these conversations come wrapped in flags and politics that they jar, especially in a country where civilÂ behaviour, politeness, courtesy and empathy are becoming a rarity. The AIADMK may have scored a point with the dhoti law, but the conversation has to go deeper.Â Many are raising the question if the a government has the constitutional right to impose restrictions such entities. Jayalalithaa's move is for sure populist, but this is definitely not the end of the story as at least some private entities are sure to challenge the government's decision.