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The hegemony of dress

Who should decide what you will wear? India has a Prime Minister whose sartorial elegance is world-famous now. No other Prime Minister of India including the stylish Indira Gandhi – and arguably no other leader of any country in the world – has displayed an ardour for dressing up as Modi has. He has appeared in hundreds of various styles of dresses including something that looked like a sari.

But, ironically, in Modi’s India certain people are denied the freedom to choose their dress. The present controversy about hijab in Karnataka’s colleges is just one example. Why should any political party decide what a community of people will wear especially when that party’s topmost leader keeps changing dresses and colours according to situations?

I am not a supporter of the hijab and the burka. I am of the firm opinion that women should be free to display their identity. Someone who is covered up from top to bottom looks more like a piece of baggage than a human being. Even the hijab, which does not cover the face, is a redundant piece of clothing as far as I am concerned. [My hijab-inspired short story: Shahina lets her hair down] But I will be the last person to impose my likes and dislikes on other people. I can express my opinions. But the choice belongs to them.

The Sikhs can wear turbans and sport long beards. A man who is wearing the garb of a yogi can be the chief minister of a state. The Prime Minister can look like a fancy dress competitor on occasions. But people of one particular community cannot wear the dress of their choice! That’s not fair.

Is it about dress at all? Or is it about hegemony?


  1. Oppression in any form is condemnable. Freedom is the birth right for everyone.

    1. Oppression is the norm in India today. How many media agencies have been shut down, how many writers killed, activists arrested, NGOs blocked...?

  2. Hari OM
    Well said, sir... While I would not agree with the decree that drives the wearing of the hijab, I have to say that there is something very feminine about it and that (here in the UK at aeast) the Muslim ladies who choose to wear it do so with panache and fashionable style. That is an aside to your point, however. For any ruling authority to order the exclusion of an item of clothing is authoritarian in the extreme. As for Modi's attire... for some reason I cannot help but think about The Emporer's New Clothes... YAM xx

    1. I'm actually looking forward to the day when a child will shout those words to Modi about his inner monstrosity.

  3. On this matter though I beg to disagree. At the school level, it is appropriate that each child wears the school uniform and not religion on their sleeves . By opposing this, I think the others are playing into the hands of the ruling party in Karnataka which wants exactly that with the elections in the state due shortly. In fact, the controversy was triggered by the CM who issued a circular recently to the educational institutions.

    1. I teach in a school where many Muslim girls come wearing the headgear. I find it rather funny and irritating at the same time. But the school, a Christian institution, respects religious sentiments and lets that be. I would wish that the people realise the absurdity of the practice and change it themselves.

  4. Young friend, I do not agree a wee-bit with any bit of what you say. But I will defend with my blood, your right to say that. - Voltaire

    1. Precisely. That's just the point. I don't accept the hijab but i defend the people's right to wear it if it suits them for whatever reason.

      That child who will have to shout out to the naked emperor is inevitable. Time will bring him/her on.

  5. Yaaaa... I am just waiting for the day, when the child in the Body Politic of India will call out. “ The Emperor has no clothes.


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