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?