How many of British customs we are following?


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Continuing with my own trend of being late into things, here I am with the latest debate raised by Environmental Minister Jairam Ramesh, when on April 02, 2010 at seventh convocation ceremony of Indian Institude of Forest management, he termed the wearing of the traditional convocation robe as a ‘barbaric colonial practice’.

convocationSometimes we educated people find ourselves really in weird state of mind, when finding things like this get attention more than the issues that affect common man’s life. May be the statement make some sense, but doesn’t the whole education system must be a matter of more concerns than a uniform thing?

In reference of the same, I found the Mumbai Mirror article a real good read. It reports that this isn’t the first instance, when such a disagreement with the customs might have been shown. Lawyers in Mumbai’s civil and sessions courts moved a resolution making black gowns optional (Though that demand had more to do with Mumbai’s humid weather than anti-colonial sentiments, the flowing gowns have been discarded). Similarly, In 2004, the department of posts decided to change the uniform of their postmen from the heavy khaki of the colonial era to blue trousers and shirts. It was felt that the old uniform with embellishments like metal buttons and cap was unsuitable for India’s weather.

Sure, these demands weren’t in same context in which Mr. Jairam has taken his concerns, but sure its not unusual to expect something like this from our politicians. Still I am not condemning it, just try to reason with facts …


Hasn’t this be the case many times that we have changed names of streets, buildings  and roads in name of our leaders from old British names? Haven’t people find more pride in calling Mumbai rather than long established name Bombay now? What’s wrong if someone is talking about changing one more thing ….

Sometimes it really needs to be figured out that what are we following for convenience and what might be roadnameactually hurting the sentiments.

Most of us don’t mind wearing jeans, paint-shirts or even foreign brands coz it reasons well for convenience. We reason with renaming of roads, bus/ railways stations and buildings in name of Indians as even in that time, when it was named, it was named to honor someone without caring for our sentiments or might be renamed from some other names.


Similarly, it seems justified if wearing gowns on occasion of convocation reminds us of the fact that its a British custom. But there are many other things to think upon, let’s know about a few ….

  1. whole education system is based on British Customs otherwise, we had some very other kind of gown system in our country then. Rather than flirting with inner sentiments that why to spend money on buying gown to wear on some particular day only, when it has no cultural or educational objective, why not to think about the education system itself?

    As about the gown itself, then let me tell you that gown is not only British, but its something all over the world. Gown is a symbol to show equality among students, who are now about to face the real world. Throwing the caps in air was symbol for the same. In our ancient culture, we had a similar tradition that the student was to live in Brahamcharya/ Ashram culture, where they were bound to beg before people of city for food and do all the works of Ashram. They were meant to leave behind what they belonged to, however rich, however powerful, Ashram rules were same to all. Once, their study period was over, there was also trend of convocation, where they were to leave Ashram cloths and wear there regular ones.

    In this way, if we see, then time has changed, students are not forced to wear uniforms while study and obviously, we see inequality between students, when someone come with branded cloths/ watches/ cell phones and someone very ordinary cloths. The cruel social life starts from very beginning.

    Is this wrong, if every student get a sense of equality on the day, he/ she leaves the institution?  If really have to change something then should work up on education system, the way it treats, the way it creates … that’s what outdated today coz it was created in context of making clerks for British administration then.

  2. Whole Justice system of India is based on British customs Your Honor! Me Lord! His Highness!!! the words have became this much common that we forgot that if they were having any context in current scenario. Was everything created by British system so bad that should be discarded?
  3. The biggest railways/ road network of the world is also a British heritage. Mentioning it not to say that British given a lot to us, but to remind that not everything that belongs to a wrong name would be wrong.

If you calling uniforms off then why not to apply the same on doctors, nurses, postmen, constables, police officers, army or similar of those? Why shouldn’t they also be relaxed? Though I know that it doesn’t matter for them coz doesn’t influence cheap votes, but I wish if the concerns were for changing something that actually affects students.

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Author: Nitish Kumar

I love to write and raising voice, sharing thought and heated debate is a kind of passion for me. Jobwise I am just another Computer professional handling Infra and designing solutions for a big Indian Media house but I love to write, sketch, photography and a lot more.

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