My children fortunately never had to wear a tie and my husband never did if he could help it. Now a change of situation had me looking at schools in Trivandrum for my kids admission. During my survey of schools, the first thing that caught my attention was the ubiquitous tie. The horrendous strip of cloth which hang down poor necks, that my husband refers to as a hangover from the colonial days.
In India the tie is our inheritance from the British who ruled us. They have been gone for nearly three quarters of a century but the tie has only caught on. When I was a student in the 80’s we were luckily not burdened with that strangulation hazard! Now I see that even my old school has made it part of the uniform. Slowly the world is changing to smart casual in work place, starting with the IT sector this untying is now trickling across the corporate world and educational institutions. Why then is the trend reversing in our country?
Tie is one fashion statement that has spread all over the world standing second only to jeans ( The spread of jeans is another amazing aspect, even grandmothers who till now has worn just saris and kurtas have given up on lose cotton salwars for the thick sack cloth, I will rant about that later ). Across cultures, across social standing the tie has become the symbol of professionalism.
In my rounds of the schools I was totally taken aback by one school where the uniform is a three piece suit, complete with a neck band. This is in sultry Trivandrum where a few weeks ago the mercury crossed the 40 degree mark. On asking the rationale behind these (strait) Jackets the principal proudly announced ” It is to instill in our children a sense of professionalism and more importantly to give them the feeling that they are different from others” . At that instance I wished I had a tie around my neck to hang myself on one of the fans in his rooms (which by the way is always on whether he is in or out apparently to ” show his presence”).
Isn’t it time the school children and their mothers (who are to make sure this tiny piece of cloth does not get lost in the family laundry) are unburdened of this “hang down” ? Aren’t Indian school children experiencing enough stress without having to add “professionalism” to their resume? The whole purpose of uniform in schools is to show uniformity in the literal sense, that everyone is equal once they are in school. Let’s take this one step further by teaching the children to take pride in their culture and heritage by introducing them to handlooms, taking lessons from the Indonesians who only wear the comfortable Batik as official attire. Imagine a day when all the schools in the city decide to use handloom uniforms, and “uniform” uniform (probably different colours to identify their school). What a boost it would be for the dying handloom industry and what a wonderful message is sent out to our future generation, the message of equality and national pride!