Indian governor orders universities to scrap 'European' graduation gowns

BJP's Ram Naik calls on institutions to 'inculcate folk culture' in ceremonies amid concerns over rising Hindu nationalism

November 3, 2015
BTech students of IIT Patna graduate 2015
BTech students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Patna, graduate in 2015

A governor from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has told universities in his state to ditch graduation ceremony caps and gowns and replace them with attire that has an “Indian essence”.

Ram Naik has written to all state universities in Uttar Pradesh calling on them to “inculcate folk culture in the convocation dress”, according to the Times of India.

Critics have accused the BJP of trying to push Hindu ideas in the education system since winning power last year.

Universities should do away with "European graduate gown culture", Mr Naik told the newspaper. "Universities have been asked to lay emphasis on creating a dress code with an Indian essence,” he said.

He added that he approved of the khadi stoles – a kind of traditional shawl – worn by graduates at Ambedkar University.

“A letter has been sent to all the state universities to do away with the black gown and introduce Indian attire,” Mr Naik said.

“It has been left to the discretion of v-cs of the universities about what they want the students to wear, but it should depict Indian culture. Institutions have also been asked to inculcate folk culture in the convocation dress if they have any regional speciality."

But he was accused of wanted to “saffronize” Indian universities – make them more culturally Hindu – by Amit Singh, president of the National Student Union of India’s Agra unit.

"Everyone wants to wear a black gown. It is the dream of every student to raise the cap in the air after receiving the medal. Are we not using the rail tracks made by the British? Are we not using the highways and roads made by them? Then why do away with the gown?,” he added.

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