Why we are seeing student VS student battle over dress code?

hijab row

Oh small child, so petit. What do you in your palm’s grasp keep? It is translation of a popular Hindi song written by Shailendra, sung by Mohammed Rafi. What would the lyrics be if Shailendra wrote this song today?

It is unfortunate that students are caught up in a controversy over hijab. They should worry for exams, their future, of jobs and opportunities and instead put up against one another over religion.

It started with Udupi college banning entry of girls with hijab. Ban spread to some other colleges of Karnataka as well and girls protested against it. Video also showed students pleading to let ’em join school with peers.

School administration said that the girls violated school uniform code. But till yesterday they were attending college and classes now suddenly entry is barred so it’s questionable.

And this is not the first of its kind controversy. Earlier there was question on namaz in open and now hijab makes it to the headlines.

Legally, article 25(1) of constitution guarantees right to profess, practice, propagate religion. State should ensure this very basic right under reasonable restrictions as not to disturb public order, morality and health.

Does hijab harm morality or disturb public order or health?

Furthermore, only essential rituals and practices are to be protected and Hijab is one of the many aspects of the religion… It’s not like suddenly one day the girls decided to wear it to school.

In 2004, Anand Marga sect was not allowed tandava dance in public street because court observed it was particular to the sect and not essential to the religion itself. Similarly in 2016 Muslim airman was discharged by IAF for keeping a beard. Supreme Court upheld the decision as keeping beard was not essential practice to the religion.

Now, if the question is of dress code then that is where complications occur. On one hand it is worth noting that in 2015, a petition challenged dress code for all India pre medical exam and Kerala High Court directed the CBSE to put additional measures for the girls.

On the other hand in 2018 different verdict was given when father wanted his daughters to wear headscarf as well as full sleeves and school refused. At that time Kerala HC said, collective rights of institution would be given primacy over individual rights.

Unity in diversity is a strength India thrives on. Today, if hijab is a problem, then tomorrow questions may also be raised about bindi or turban or cross.

It does no harm to us all to tolerate a little bit of diversity. Instead of judging people from their attire we should judge them by their character.

It does not benefit anyone if students are fighting amongst themselves. Not long ago we used to know our friends by their first names. Their caste, creed, culture, clothing and so on did not matter.

This type of segregation at school and college level, when student is against student over religion, can only make rulers of British India proud. It is not the India we know and wish to preserve.

More questions loom over us – that of high unemployment, per capita income and inflation. Those are questions that need to be discussed and debated at school and college level instead of this controversy.

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