Saturday, June 25, 2005

Da VC Code

Designer Lascelles Symons offered the following gyaan on 'what to wear during monsoon' to a TV news channel:
a) Lots of colour
b) Avoid white
c) Keep it short.

Enlightening, I say! But I guess his clients aren't the kind who really need to budge out of their houses and get their Manolos wet... And certainly they've never seen the inside of trains and buses!

Meanwhile, the man whom the Mirror calls the 'city's latest dress designer' - the Vice Chancellor of Bombay University - has his own views on the subject. He wants to impose a dress code on students, especially female ones. The idea being to 'dress decently' and not as if in a fashion show.

The VC has therefrore stipulated the following:
* Salwar Kameez — but no deep neck. Sleeveless will do
* T-shirts that do not have a deep neckline or expose the navel
* Jeans, but no low-waist

Not allowed:
* Short skirts
* Body-hugging tops
* Sleeveless tops
* Shorts
* Tank tops

Are knee length pants OK? What about a tank top worn inside a shirt...And Visible Panty Line?? Should the V-C be, at all, concerned with such questions?? !!

Where's the problem, anyways
I for one, am wondering which colleges in Mumbai the V-C visited which necessitated this policy statement.

If anything, for several years now, the trend on campuses across Mumbai has been to 'dress down'. Jeans - with kurtas or tshirts and colourful accessories are pretty much the standard uniform. You'd be hard pressed, really, to find those shorts/ mini-skirts.

I can say that because JAM regularly visits campuses to shoot for its fashion section. In a feature we did at KC and HR (some of the more fashion-conscious colleges in Mumbai), 4 out of 5 students we shot would have met the VC's 'no exposure' guidelines. And even the one girl in a 'short skirt' doesn't look indecent or provocative in the least!

I think the concept of 'decency' itself has broadened considerably. Sleeveless t shirts might have been 'provocative' 20 years ago... At one time my grandmother had a huge problem with my mom wearing sleeveless blouses, I remember.

Today, 'music video' costumes would probably be 'indecent' outside clubs. But which girls are trying to wear such outfits - and travel in buses and autos - anyways?

Rebels for no cause
As elementary psychology will tell you: telling hormonally charged young people 'what to do' is the surest way to get them NOT to do it. It's inciting a rebellion among a population which, on its own, had chosen to be pretty boring and conformist in most respects, including hemlines.

'Woh kaun hota hai hamein rokne waala' are the kind of soundbytes pimply teens are giving to TV crews.

Parents and individual principals were enough to police errant kids. The V-C has more urgent matters to attend to - relating to what is being taught - or not - in a university which is way behind the needs and aspirations of modern India.

But, like Nero, he prefers to fiddle while Kalina burns.


  1. Guess all that poor VC is trying to say is "bachon please dress decently". And since "dress decently" can be intrepreted in many ways the VC has given a code for that.

    Why should we take such an offence in that?

  2. is this the vc has enforced bhagwan hi maalik hai ab ladkon ka what they will do for thei rbird watching. jokes apart VC should have more matters important to handle. moreover, mumbai youth (college going) plays an some role in setting trends for the fasion in india. by the way what the heck was he thinking while taking the freedom of... this is discriminaion based on gender.

  3. nice post, agree totally. the dircetive reeks of ineptitude in more than one forms...

  4. our generation is as such a bit too dormant for its own good-but come on,this is taking things a bit too far--old enough to vote,but not old enough to decide what to wear

  5. I think this VC belongs to a generation that has destroyed India. These hopelessly backward people in their 50s who never thought about development, progress and innovation can think of imposing such things only. Thats their standard and can never think of improving standards or stles of education.
    Agar VC ko dress code impose karna ho tho woh jaake apne ghar mein karen...Not impose things on Junta.

  6. Shilpi Sharma9:52 AM

    Hey Rashmi
    There was a lot in the newspapers about a dresscode being imposed for north eastern girls in delhi university. maybe because a girl from the north east was raped in dhaula kuan recently.i don't think there is anything wrong with dressing up for college but, then delhi is not really cosidered to be a very safe place for girls . but, i've heard that bombay is much safer , so there shouldn't be any problem.
    ps. Rashmi, please check ur mail.

  7. the motive behind VC's code definitely must b for gud reasons...we shudn't ignore it as it is..but atleast try to understand the awareness he is trying to convey..but i still dont understans how VC is gonna enforce this...

    but Rashmi, kudos to u..writing on such a varied topics tht too daily is really appriceable...

  8. Anonymous10:40 PM

    What I really can't believe is all this is the VC's reaction to a stupid drunken cop.

  9. i was having this discussion on rape with two of my friends - one american and the other iranian. The american feels that to decrease the no. of rape cases in india, society should be made more "free" as in the US, where no. of rape cases are too low wrt india.The iranian disagrees. He says to decrease the no. of rape cases, India should implement strict dress codes and deterrence as in Iran, where again no. of rape cases r too low wrt india.

    Two radically opposite points of view, trying to prove one point. And both of them r logical. I personally agree with the american.

    The VC might be of the Iranian school of thought. But he has a point. Attires might act as a catalyst (by definition catalysts dont cause a reaction, they accelerate a reaction)

  10. Anonymous6:26 PM

    gosh, you really need how to write well... do you ramble so much in real life??

  11. The VC has backtracked... no dress code is being imposed after all.

  12. Tathagat2:27 AM

    While I do agree that getting down to the micro level and deciding who should wear what is not a VC's job, we must understand the spirit behind his code. After all, we want our colleges to be 'decent' places of learning and not just a place to have girlfriends (ref. your next post) or a fashion show. There's nothing wrong in asking students to dress up decently. Although imposing specific dress code may be inappropriate, it's perfectly okay to ask students to dress in a manner that suits students. Of course, what is decent and what is not shouldn't be rigidly stipulated by the VC, rather the students should decide for themselves.

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