Tensions over burkha, hijab and jeans...

Tensions over burkha, hijab and jeans...


Orthodox communities have an organic consciousness in relation to their socio-cultural and political codes. There is a certain uniformity in the lives of those individuals who identify themselves with the values of orthodoxy they cherish to a large extent.

At the same time a truly orthodox community also engenders opposition and resistance in such individuals who do not accept or endorse orthodoxy. In other words there is a certain transparency and honesty about orthodoxy.

It is only bad conservative communities and societies that give birth to a split
personality, a double natured self, in those who try to vindicate them. Trying to
create notions of purity, sanctity and morality, conservative societies comfortably embrace all vulgar contradictions only because of their opportunistic nature. This is the reason why conservative individuals invoke religion, tradition, morality even as they embrace modernity that in fact dismisses the former as retrograde and reactionary.

All the furious debates about dress codes in schools and colleges in particular and in many societies in general, uphold the split consciousness of those communities that are neither totally orthodox nor completely radical. The tensions over burkha, hijab and jeans only draw attention to the lack of a certain conviction and seriousness about significant issues and values.

 France, Afghanistan, India or Pakistan or any other place for that matter, only
reflect the double standards of those who create such conflicts. Particularly in the field of education, it is those centres of power that have no regard for notions of justice, equality and excellence that foreground an irrelevant issue like dress code for students - especially for girl students - in the name of tradition, culture and morality.

The whole debate on dress code is only a part of our larger hypocritical attitude towards social and cultural values. Dresses by themselves reveal nothing about those who wear them. On the contrary they symbolically expose the combined mediocrity and insensitivity of those who wish to cover up their apathy towards anything of genuine value and meaning.

(The writer is Head of the Department of English, NMKRV College for Women, Bangalore.)

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