Himachal schools give the boot to black shoes

Environmentally unfriendly

Officials in the state Education Department are apparently swayed by animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi’s protestations about the use of leather shoes which are made by killing animals.

“We plan to ban leather shoes from the uniform in government schools as they are not  environment-friendly  and are made from animal hides that involves killing of animals. For this we are taking views from school principals across the state,” says O P Sharma, Director of Higher Education.

If the move comes through, more than 10 lakh children studying in over 15,000 government schools in the state will kick the trademark black leather shoes in favour of canvas or tennis shoes.

Even Chief Minister P K Dhumal has been taken in by the idea and has instructed the Education Department to explore options other than the “environmentally hazardous and unhealthy black leather shoes.”

Only two months ago, Dhumal had asked all schools in the state to include a nine-point pledge to protect environment as part of the morning prayers. All students and teachers are required to take this pledge for inculcating an awareness for protection of fragile Himalayan ecology among them from a young age.

In July last year, Maneka had written to the HRD Ministry that the decision to wear black leather shoes in schools was a British legacy. “It is a decision that is not just unhealthy for children but environmentally dangerous,” she wrote. The ministry has written to school boards seeking their views.

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