Following the mahatma Boys at the Vidya Ganapathi school wearing Gandhi toppis and working in the school’s garden. Photos by the author.
Gandhian principles and his model of development have become part of textbooks. Then, there are the customary lengthy speeches  by politicians and academicians. The rituals of showering flowers on the portrait of Gandhi follows.

But, just a few days later, that day is forgotten, and most of us get on with our lives. Not so, the children of this school in Mandya district. These children have internalised Gandhi’s principles of simplicity. What’s more, the famous cap, popularly known as Gandhi toppi is part of their uniform.

We are talking about Sri Vidya Ganapathi Vidya Samsthe, situated at Bidarakote village in Maddur taluk. It could probably be the only school in the state, which has made the compulsory wearing of the Gandhi toppi, as part of their uniform. Blue shirt, khakhi pants and the Gandhi toppi are what students here wear everyday.

But, remembering Gandhi is not restricted to wearing the cap everyday. There is a Gandhi Smruthi, a 10-minute class in which teachers talk to students about the Gandhian way of life and the great man’s contribution to the freedom struggle.

The school premises has a beautiful garden. One can see the students’ efforts that goes into the cleanliness of the garden. According to the school’s teachers, a section of boys and girls are involved in gardening work every week, on a rotational basis.
Though it is a co-education school, wearing the Gandhi toppi is compulsory only for boys. However, the girls are made to involve themselves in a greater manner in the Gandhi smruthi class and gardening work.

According to founder of the school B T Srinivas Gowda, “I like Gandhi’s principles, his simplicity. Students should also try to follow in the great man’s footsteps. I have made the Gandhi toppi  part of the uniform, as part of an effort to create awareness. Students also enjoy the same.”