Right of admission reserved

So when we were doing that whole Pink Chaddi campaign there was another controversy – of Col CK Dass and his wife not being allowed entry into a disco because the lady in question, was in a saree. And I didn’t write about it for a while because I wanted to be sure what side I was on. (Would be much obliged if someone could give me a link to it. )

I am a rabid saree wearer. I love my sarees, I wear them everywhere and I don’t care what people think of it. So recently I wore a silk to a page three event held at a disco and got a lot of strange looks. No one stopped me but I felt it merited the occasion and I wore it. Also it’s a lovely grey and fuschia silk and I was just dying to wear it, okay!? Okay.

So anyway, saree being part of our glorious traditions and heritage yaada yaada, blah blah.. I can see why people got so upset over the refusal to let her enter. And I am not even getting into the argument of what is appropriate and how hard it is to salsa in 6 metres of cloth.

I simply believe that any establishment has a right to its rules and no amount of public debate is of any use. So many places refuse entry to men in open sandals. Sure, it’s a stupid rule in a hot country like this, but hey, their place, their rules (much like my blog, my rules ;)).

I remember feeling vaguely torn when the French school refused to allow Muslim girls in with a head scarf. I have my own religious scruples and I could see how hard it must have been for them. But hey – an educational institution is an educational institution and the point of a uniform is so that everyone is uniform. Leave your religion at the door – much like those footmats you get that say, ‘Leave your ego and shoes at the door’.

And if you don’t like it, lump it. It’s the same vaguely disturbed feeling I get when I see Sikhs on two wheelers without helmets. Heck, it’s a law and you’re breaking it with impunity. And it’s a law that so directly shows you cause and effect. You have an accident and you crack your skull open. I heard a lot of Sardar jokes about this and it just wasn’t funny.

And so that is where I stand on the saree issue. If it’s a private establishment, it has a right to its code, no matter how ridiculous you find it. If it’s a law, you have to follow it, no matter what your religion has to say about it. You don’t like it, move to a country where religious laws prevail. But in all this – no third party has a right to charge into any place and tell you that THEY have an issue with the way you are dressing or behaving.

It’s when you try and find a way around it that you end up with confused laws and plenty of chaos.

So, what’s your view on this?

And oh – on a slightly related note – I read this piece. Very interesting.

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99 thoughts on “Right of admission reserved

  1. “I remember feeling vaguely torn when the French school refused to allow Muslim girls in with a head scarf. I have my own religious scruples and I could see how hard it must have been for them. But hey – an educational institution is an educational institution and the point of a uniform is so that everyone is uniform. Leave your religion at the door – much like those footmats you get that say, ‘Leave your ego and shoes at the door’.”

    Would you hold the same if the school had rules like beef would be served for lunch and everyone has to eat it regardless they are Hindus/Muslims/Christians/Sikhs either that or don’t send your kids to school (even if its the only one within a 100 kms) and deny them the right to education?

    Me: Yes, I would. If my religious beliefs are so important to me, I will deny myself all else.

    I grew up in a strict sect of Christians which doesnt even allow for singing the national anthem or hymns of other religions. but I went to a school that required me to sing the national anthem and the Saraswati Vandana – and my family encouraged me to do it because that was a rule. Simple. If they didnt want it, they should have kept me at home uneducated.

    Its amazing how people want all the advantages without being willing to follow the rules and the discipline that is part of the package deal. Dont get me wrong, I’m all for inclusive places that make allowances for your own personal issues. But if they dont, too bad. Dont crib or dont go. With every RIGHT comes RESPONSIBILITY. Why is it that people demand their rights without following up with the responsibilities?

    The day your personal life begins to impinge on laws and rules – you need to make your choices and not fuss.

  2. So glad you brought this up. In Norway, we recently had a passionate public debate about the use of hijab in the police force. It went all the way to parliamentary committee and the request was refused. Obviously, it became all about Islamaphobia. And how nobody cares about repecting the Muslim religion and the right of the woman to bear hijab. But sure she can! Does she have to do it as a police officer though?

    Honestly, hijab in Europe has become more of a political statement lately, a statement of identity, as much as/more than an expression of religious feeling. And I really believe that the police uniform should convey neutrality. Isn’t that the whole deal of a uniform? I’m passionate about high heels.. its religion for me:-).. I wouldn’t demand to wear them in the line of service though!

    When people get fired up, they miss obvious pragmatic points. Would a devout woman bearing hijab feel comfortable body-searching a man? Its not the kind of job where you can choose NOT to have physical contact. Would she be comfortable patrolling late at night with a male partner?

    You wouldn1t let someone in a police force go about with a badge proclaiming any political affiliation otherwise.. why should it be different now?

    Sorry for hogging space….yes yes,, will go spew on own blog and all:-)

    p.s. Sikhs in Canada are allowed the turban in the police force and the hijab is also allowed in the police forces of Britain and Sweden. Just for info.

    Me: which is all good and kind of Canada, India allows it too – but if some country didnt allow it, I’d totally understand

  3. What an apt title and I got the subtle message in this line too-“(much like my blog, my rules )! So, this is my last comment on this blog for now…..not that I am running away from a discussion but then it is pointless to engage in something that causes unwarranted acrimony.
    For a change my viewpoint on this issue matches that of yours.

    Me: Oh please dont feel so privileged Alok – I dont write posts just for you! Its hardly a subtle message. Its an obvious one. This IS a personal blog and if anyone annoys me I dont need to justify why I delete comments. Its my call. That said – just the fact that every single comment of yours is published, says that I am fair enough. Just because I dont agree with you doesnt mean I dont accept dissent. It means I MOSTLY dont agree with you. This isnt the case here however, and I really respect how you’ve come back to make a statement. I admire that.

    I feel that religion is a very private thing and thus should remain inside those four walls……it creates issues and problems moment it comes out of those four walls into the open……..Needless to say that religious sentiments need to be respected at all times to allow it to function and thrive behind those walls.

    Me: Exactly. amen. Your rights end where they infringe on mine. So if I run a place with certain rules and you dont like it, thats your bad luck – dont come.

    We have so many incidents in the modern history that solidifies my religion within four wall theory- most riots in Indian cities started with one procession or the other, Friday namaz on roads and organising Maha-aartis in response to it in 92 led to Mumbai riots…….not only that we have examples even in so called civil societies – Unionist March in Northern Ireland (knowing that possibility of being understood is very high, I still would want to make a so called “negative” observation on that piece in the Independent-the writer of that piece chose to mention incidents from everywhere but not one right under his nose-Unionist March in NI)…….And this is what bugs me and will always even when I run the risk of being labeled as a “negative” person…rather has already been declared one…..

    Me: ??? sorry. your last line is just rambling… nobody labelled you negative – you decided that i dont like dissent. and i pointed out that if i didnt, your comments wouldnt be published in the first place. i’d just hit delete. kindly give credit where it is due.

    Every religion of the modern age has its own set of challenges…… but then people with money & real power have also got the ability to commandeer the issues/targets…..so much has justifiably been written about growing Islamic fundamentalism but remarkable is the ability and reach of Church to keep pushing the crisis with in Church under the carpet…. two recent examples in India- a recent book by a Keralite Nun and Abhaya murder case with in same state & host of abuses in Florida and other EU nations are case in point….
    Hindus too can’t take pride in their record-Gujarat riots and killing of Staines et all are some modern day blots on our record…..

    Me: what has that to do with this post?!

    Hamam main sab nangey hain…. but still few manages to hide themselves!

  4. “move to a country”?? MadMomma, really?

    Me: Why not Puranjoy? We move countries for a better job, for a better standard of living… so many reasons. So why not one that respects your religious sentiments if they mean so much to you?!

    I am thinking up a longish comment on why saree at disco is different from helmet on bike.

    Me: I’ll wait.

  5. MM,
    After reading this post just a thought on your view on people who follow separation during menstural periods. If they do seat people with period on a plastic chair in their home, isn’t that their right to do so?

    Me: Of course. You’re missng the point. It is their right to do so. BUT I dont have to like it. As I said on that post too – I’d never go there again.

    I do know that you wouldn’t visit such an household later. I am sure the lady in sari might not visit that pub later. But does that solve the whole problem??

    Okay, I am not sure if it came across correctly. In the name of freedom of setting rules these private establishments are somehow promoting discrimination.

    Me: Well they have a right to do that, dont they? Just like any home has a right to decide who they will let in or any school has the right to decide what they will allow.

    For e.g, the untouchability followed by temples or let us say some private institution would come under the radar of law. So why shouldn’t discrimination like these come under the radar of law??

    Me: And has the law been able to change things? There are still plenty of religious institutions that don’t allow people from other faiths/castes – the law is unable to do anything about it. By the same token, a private institution should have the same right – no?

    I know your post states what is the truth and why there shouldn’t be hue and cry.

    What I expressed above is just a thought, it might not be the true state of affair these days.

  6. I totally agree with “My place, my rules”, with the exception that the rules should not be discriminatory based on religion, caste, sex (except for womens’ and mens’ parlors I guess?) or any such unconstitutional terms.

    If a club thinks that sarees are “uncool”, it may not be the right place for me anyways 😉 I totally think a saree rocks and I have been day dreaming about the ethnic Oriya tussar silk sarees I spotted on my last visit to India and still cursing myself for not buying them 😦

    On a separate note, religious institutions do restrict entry based on religion. I know of Morman churches here that I cannot go into. One may claim that I don’t have membership, so I cannot get in. But, what if my membership is refused based on my religion? Are they not discriminating illegally? If any other institution, say a restaurant, did this, they would surely be put out of business.

    Me: Which is fair enough I guess. Every place has a right to its rules and if you dont like it, dont go. There are temples in India that dont allow women. Or non-christians. So I dont go to them. But there are plenty that do. You cannot compare a restaurant to a place of worship in terms of your religion for obvious reasons!! Because it really HAS nothing to do with your religion. And I dont think they’d go out of business anyway – people of their own religion would come. Its how pure veg restaurants or restaurants that serve beef or pork are frequented by only those who eat that.

  7. I have a different take on the sari issue because there is such a history to this thing in India. The whole “natives and native dress” not allowed in public places (the Mall in Shimla, clubs and nightclubs in the not-so-good old days. Had there not been this prior baggage of colonialism and racism, I would have said fine, let every private institution have its own dress codes. Right now, I am very ambivalent about the matter. I would never send my daughter to a school where the only uniform allowed was a sari, even though I recognize the right of schools to have their own uniforms.

    Me: Precisely my point. Dont like it? Dont go. But you have no right to get mad at them because its their right to have a dress code.

    On the other hand, I would never enter a place like this disco with the no-sari policy. The assumption is that people who wear saris can’t possibly have fun and dance. Whereas, I have seen my mother and others of her generation dance the foxtrot in their beautiful saris (I am from an army famiy and in my father’s zamana, dancing was a desirable social skill) While bloghopping, I found this picture of a bunch of firang women having a wonderful time in their saris.
    http://tinyurl.com/cqrsfq
    (I hope it is correct netiquette to link to other people’s blogs in a comments section)

    If you showed it to the management of that disco, they would probably turn around and say, the worms that they are, “Oh, if firang women are dancing in saris, then of course, the sari is allowed in our disco.” I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe, do what old Mr. Tata did with his Taj Mahal hotel – build something where people don’t discriminate agaisnt clients for race and appearance. Perhaps people need to open establishments where all funloving people are allowed in, whether they wear saris or miniskirts. As long as the saris and skirts conform to the management’s definition of “appropriate”. That’s another debate right there.

    Me: exactly. its another debate. And I could be wrong – but its not the natives argument here. Its more that I think the disco is looking for a particular kind of crowd and they perhaps believe this isnt it. Simple. Which is fine. They’re a money making establishment and maybe they (wrongly ) imagine that people in sarees or soemthing cant afford them. Who knows… just thinking aloud.

  8. Pingback: Topics about Religion » Right of admission reserved

  9. “If it’s a private establishment, it has a right to its code, no matter how ridiculous you find it.” – YEP!

  10. MM, I agree with you on the issue of private institutions having a right to set their own standards and rules. But that is also possible because there is no monopoly and we are mostly in a state of perfect competition. Hence we’d say, “if you don’t like the rules here, go elsewhere”.

    But, with respect to a state one can’t use the same logic. In the case of banning headscarves in France the school in question was a public school, a state run school. The policy of a public school, a state institution, is directly related to the policy of a state. Pursuant to the said incident France had instituted the Stasi Commission that recommended and resulted in the Act 2004-228 of 15 March 2004 which prohibits “the wearing of symbols or clothing by pupils that clearly demonstrate a religious affiliation” in public primary and secondary schools in France. Now France has an ever-increasing population following Islam, the very reason why this debate had to be addressed by the government. The issue boils down to which model of secularism a country follows. While most strictly follow “Separation of Church and the State” (which in effect means keeping religion entirely out of the government’s ambit), India follows a different model of “equal treatment of all religions”. It is the reason the Constitution holds such vast guarantees for minority communities and allows government support (financial aid, tax benefits etc.) to establishments run by minority communities without any interference in their administration. I’m not sure it hasn’t stoked some of the communal tensions that we face today, but it is also true that in a democracy people do have the right to support or not support policies of their government. (The issue of mandating helmets is from a different perspective entirely i.e. of safety. Though I cannot imagine how it could fit over and above the turban, but that’s a practical problem). Can we guarantee that the suppression of religious expression in countries like France today would not result in an uproar or revolution tomorrow?

    On a personal note, I was literally born into and brought up in one of the oldest Christian missionary schools in my city, and saw a lot of my classmates dressed differently in headscarves and salwars below the mandatory uniform of white shirts and maroune skirts. Beyond this expression of their faith, these girls came to church like any one of us for daily morning chapel. I’m not particularly religious nor do I personally feel the need to express the faith I was born in, and yet cannot help appreciate this culture of accommodating people, their faiths and their practices that the Indian constitution has propagated and attempted to instil in some sections of the society (atleast!!).

  11. Did this disc, the one that refused to let a woman in a saree enter its premises, specify its dress code? If they did, nobody can question their authority to refuse that woman enter.

  12. When my Mom(who only wears saris) was guest lecturing at A University in Dubai, she was told ‘Ummm..could you wear Western clothes, please? We have international students here.’ When Universities do that to visiting faculty, I’m not surprised that a discotheque would make a farce about it.

  13. I agree that saree in a disco might be a slightly difficult deal.

    But, why can not a muslim girl wearing a scarf to school? Or if the school has a skirt, then why can’t she wear a full length skirt rather than a knee length skirt? Then sikh school boys should not be allowed to wear a turban also right? That would also be an extension of the uniform.

    Many muslim girls wear knee length skirts too as their parents are fine with it. When your parents do not allow it, then you need do what they allow you to. Some muslim girls study specifically in a girls school, and here they just wear a Bhurka till the school gate and then remove it on entering the school, and follow the school rules after like any other girl there.

    Me: which is fine. If the school has a uniform and you dont want to follow it – then find a more lenient school – but i think the school is well within its rights to enforce a strict code.

    The uniform deals with avoiding disparity based on money. What I am trying to say is that a school being an educational institution should allow for small extensions to uniforms.

  14. Being a Muslim girl (yes, I cover my head), all I want to say is that I would rather follow God’s rules than man-made rules 🙂 Thank you very much.

    I recently started reading your blog, and soon it has become one of the three blogs I daily visit. However, this post offended me and MY FREEDOM of choice.

    Me: You’re most welcome to be offended. It is as much your right, as it is your right to wear anything you wish. However, it is equally ANY private establishment’s right to reserve admission and if you dont like, thats your bad luck

  15. and, I also want to add, religion is my way of living, that is what I follow to LIVE. and I cannot leave my way of living just to be accepted somewhere.

    Me: TOTALLY. So then those who want to follow their way of life so staunchly shouldnt feel bad if others follow their codes equally staunchly. Surely when you have such a strong sense of what you think is right, you respect the law as well as other people to have their strong sense of what they will allow – right?

  16. while I am with you on “like it or lumo it”, specifically on the saree debate in pubs…I did find it weird though. While the “not allowed in floaters” argument for men does have me rolling my eyes…I buy that argument deciding that some places insist on “formal”. (I’d be uncomfortable in such places but that’s a different issie, si might decide to skip) but the same doesn’t hold for a saree…if that isn’t formal enough for Indan clothes…what is?

    I feel uncomfortable because this seems more to do with how one views a saree…like u can “dance” to western music only in western clothes…or that u’re not “hip” enough to be out there is u’re dressed in indian clothes…and that within our own country is sad! I’d get it if a club in NY stopped me for a saree…but why within India?

    My final verdict will be in accordance to your opinion too….I wouldn’t make a hueand cry of it or demand they let me in…their rules…but I will shake my head and wonder why people think of sarees as inappropriate!

  17. I am conflicted.. I agree that every private institution has a right to make it own rules and that one should not go there if one does not like the rules of the place.. but isnt that at some level giving birth to discrimination??

    Me: At which point do you draw a line between discrimination and discipline?

  18. I’m sorry for this third comment, but I also wish to add for my hijab is not expressing my religion, it is following what is asked by the Almighty. and that is how it is for most (if not all) Muslim females who cover themselves.

    Me: Three comments in a row – STRONGLY justifying your religious choices, and YET no courage of conviction to stand by your God and religion with a name. Sad… quite sad. Do you not believe in standing up for your religious principles with more courage?

    I dont think I’m recommending that you break any of your rules. I am just saying that its unreasonable to expect other people/governments to change their rules to accommodate something as personal as your religion. If they start accommodating every single religious and personal belief it would lead to anarchy

  19. Just to answer yours this:

    Me: what has that to do with this post?!

    It would be better if you read the comments in entirety as they follow certain thought pattern only….Now what i had written in the end was an extension of what I had mentioned w.r.t Independent comment…

    Me: I did – but your comment made so little sense! In part as well as entirety

    An unsolicited advice that will surely generate a response from you is- not to dissect comments….rather write a wholesome response..

    Me: ah — finally you got something right. Are you sure these are not just attention tactics? :)I also suggest you look up the word ‘wholesome’ in the dictionary! Are you sure you dont mean holistic?

    Now let me give YOU some advice. Less pomposity in your response, would guarantee a better reaction. And if you used the correct words, you’d make more sense and get into less arguments.

    Had you done that you would not have missed out on the point I was trying to make by my ending statement.

    Last but not the least, it goes without saying that your publishing my comment deserves full appreciation. Had that not been the case I would not have been wasting my time and energy in replying here….

    Me: nothing goes without saying my dear… even you dont go by without saying stuff… .

  20. I agree with you.
    Although I also find it annoying that jeans (even corduroys) are not allowed in some parts of some clubs .. but like you, I agree that they do get to make rules, we don’t like the rules we sit at home 😉

  21. Religion should be kept out of education/politics/social life

    religion should be in churches.mandirs.guudwaras.gompas.mosques
    or in the privacy of homes…not outside of these places

    Relgion cannot be an excuse to order people around and tell them what you want to do no matter what

    Religion cannot be an excuse to wear certain things in a school/workplace.(or any other)

    And the establishment ie the disco if they have specified rules then its fine if they do not allow someone to enter..

    This saree issue in this particular instance is not about culture at all…

    its about following the rules of the hosts..(disco)

  22. I wish to stay anonymous for personal reasons, and that is my choice. You can not judge me by my choice of not giving away my identity.

    Me: LOL! sure i can judge. even if you dont like it.

    personal reasons, religious reasons…. always a reason to do things just your own way….

    just what i said – you want the right to everything – with none of the responsibilities that it comes with!

    anyway – please understand that i am not criticising your choices. merely pointing out that you cannot force them upon everyone and want them to accept it.

    when you make choices, accept that others might not accept them.

  23. Why have you not given out your name, or your children’s name? Do you not have the courage to stand up for your own life?

    Me: oh you’re free to judge me for that. I wont be whining about not wanting to be judged. my life is an open book for anyone to judge. i dont want it all my way. although comparing your little comment to an entire blog is a little ridiculous – there’s the little matter of security, see?

  24. I live in Dubai,UAE, a muslim country. I was at a club once and found a girl wearing the head scarf trying to gain entrance and she wsn’t allowed. I felt sorry for the girl, cos she kept saying ” please, can i just look? I’ll just be 2 mins” and she was turned away (politely though).
    That’s when I found out that you can’t wear the traditional attire ( burkha or dishdashas) and enter any of the pubs or clubs here.

    A rule is a rule I guess. No matter which country you’re in.

    Me: Amen

  25. Also, I’m not really liking your argument. I could of course go to another disco but in India I should feel free to wear my saree everywhere, including to everybody’s home. I’m not asking for this freedom in any other country. Likewise, it has always annoyed me that men are not encouraged to go to work in dhotis/lungis/whathaveyous. At the end of the day it’s all about comfort, innit?

    I’m in a beautiful ink-blue tangail with beeeyootiful, wide, wide creamy gold woven borders today, btw. Gorgeous.

    Me: you dont have to like my argument at all Sue. Although I like your saree. Your comfort ends where mine begins. And if as a private institution I dont like you wearing XYZ to my place, I have a RIGHT to deny you entery. You may not LIKE it. But its still my RIGHT.

  26. covering one’s head to a club or disco is as ridiculous as wearing a sari. However, I do not see whats the harm in wearing a hijab to school?

    Me: I dont think the question of ridicule arises. Why cant one cover their head if they feel like it? the question is simply of rules. you dont like it, dont go there.

  27. You just fully edited that reply.

    Me: what on earth are you talking about? is this your first time on a blog at all? you have to WAIT for a comment to be approved on this one. a little different to being ‘edited’. exactly what is it that you imagine is missing?!!!

  28. I really didn’t think you’d be this “rude”

    I was talking about the reply YOU wrote.
    Me: LOL! sure i can judge. even if you dont like it.

    personal reasons, religious reasons…. always a reason to do things just your own way….

    just what i said – you want the right to everything – with none of the responsibilities that it comes with!

    anyway – please understand that i am not criticising your choices. merely pointing out that you cannot force them upon everyone and want them to accept it.

    when you make choices, accept that others might not accept them.

    ^^That. You changed it. RIGHT?

    Me: I wrote a reply to her comment, hit publish and then realised i wanted to add a line – mostly because i never know when (if at all) the commenter will come back to read it. i’m well within my rights to add to my responses just as you can keep coming back and leaving comments. the nice part is that i can do it in the same box. its not against the law. and i didnt edit her reply or else SHE would have objected considering she’s left 4 comments already.

    and ofcourse i will be rude to you if you doubt my integrity and imagine i edited somebody’s comment. if i had to “edit” i’d have deleted all your accusations. now i suggest you dont come back to argue it because i’m a little tired of the loons i’ve had here today. and also – i’m sick of the crazy people who waste my time. you’d be rude too if you dealt with them on a daily basis.

    Ps: ooh – look i’m editing my reply to you – just wondered why “rude” is in quotes. you quoting someone?

  29. An unsolicited advice that will surely generate a response from you is- not to dissect comments….rather write a wholesome response.

    Me: ah — finally you got something right. Are you sure these are not just attention tactics? I also suggest you look up the word ‘wholesome’ in the dictionary! Are you sure you don’t mean holistic?

    ho•lis•tic (hō-lĭs’tĭk) adj.
    1. Of or relating to holism.
    2.
    a. Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.
    b. Concerned with wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts: holistic medicine; holistic ecology.
    whole⋅some adjective
    1. conducive to moral or general well-being; salutary; beneficial: wholesome recreation; wholesome environment.
    2. conducive to bodily health; healthful; salubrious: wholesome food; wholesome air; wholesome exercise.
    3. suggestive of physical or moral health, esp. in appearance.
    4. healthy or sound.

    I have done my part and I suggest now you go back to dictionary and check out the synonyms of both the words…….

    To answer you- Just like this blog is yours and you set the rules, that comment was mine and I am entitled to choose my words to convey/communicate my thoughts. Even someone of the authority of Geoffrey Chaucer or William Tyndale would think twice before suggesting other to use a particular word to enable that other to convey his/her thought…..

    I can’t help write another pompous response…….if I don’t make any sense, it’s your problem….. I can’t help SOMEONE of your calibre (in terms of English language) understand it better….

    Me: Alok. I’m begging you. please. please. dont come back. seriously. you exhaust me with your ability to ramble on endlessly and i’m amazed by how one person can consistently talk so much nonsense.

  30. You probably already know this, but just wanted to reiterate the fact that I’m not the Sonia without the link. I don’t leave anonymous comments, rude or otherwise. :o)

    I really love your blog and the way you write and I don’t want to be misunderstood for someone else. I love your take on life cos it’s so similar to mine, & wish I could be as articulate as you while writing!
    You don’t have to publish this btw. This is just FYI

    Me: 🙂 oh i totally know that. I get all your IPs. no explanation required.

  31. I am sorry about that……was never an intention to engage in that sort of discussion……

    Your use of adjectives(pompous,nonsense etc etc) to describe my comments shows the scant respect that you hold for a dissenting voice.

    Anyways, my apologies for talking so much nonsense……

    Me: sorry. i was a little rude too. tired of the trolls today. apologies. didnt mean to be so hostile. peace.

  32. Of course, private institutions have a right to their rules! However, I have a problem when the rules are used to mask prejudice/discrimination. And in those cases, it is everyone’s right to protest loudly 🙂 and open up a debate.

    Here in Australia, we had a case in Sydney where a group of Lebanese Muslim women wanted to be lifeguards at a local beach (in an area prone to racial violence).

    However, since they could not wear the official swimsuit, they got designed a full bodysuit that’s called the burkini. This has been good not just for the women, but for the other lifeguards and community as well. It’s destroyed stereotypes about these women, about their community.

    In this case, I think the women, for no fault of their own, were caught between two sets of rules, so they tried and changed the one they could.

    I’m just saying that challenging legally-allowed rules can lead to a lot of good!

    Me: very valid point. here’s a question, and i mean it in the most serious way – they were okay giving mouth to mouth to people they rescued? kudos to them then.

  33. MM, we are all getting into a big debate here. I guess life isnt all that straight jacketed – in the sense that if one wants to do things a certain way (like dress oneself) and an establishment (a money making one) does not respect it, should one just banish oneself from it! Leave the country. Skip educational places. So, for everything that we need as individuals, we would always need like minded people to achieve it. So may be we will have discos that accept people in sarees, in suits, in dresses…all different.

    And people are expected to not even object to that, so then we would have created a society where everyone has no tolerance and everyone wants their own thing, their own kind of people. I think everyone has the right to have an opinion about what goes around the world they are in and at a level object to some rules an establishment might have created. Of course, they always have a choice of not belonging to that place and we dont need to tell them that. For example, for anyone’s blog, if its totally private space, they should just ban all comments. Afterall a public blog does have the power to influence people’s beliefs and therefore it does carry some responsibility too. And should not expect people to just be in agreement at all times!

    Me: I will ignore the rest of your comment and just point out that your last line was very rude. And totally unexpected and unwarranted from someone who has always been welcomed and treated fairly on this blog. Very sad to see you respond this way

  34. i just did my dissertation on the life of parsis throguh rohinton mistry’s books.

    thats the same attitude of one of my respondents:

    parsis dont allow ppl in firetemples or allow people to marry. if u want ur non-parsi spouse to do either, then u convert… religion is not fickle and you can’t keep adjusting it to ur needs.

    i don’t subscribe to this at point of view at all… but i think we already have discussed this before!

    Me: well actually any religion that WANTS to survive, NEEDS to keep changing.

  35. No shortage of interesting responses here MM:-)

    I know you’re tired of loons and I don’t want to be the next, but I do need to challenge your line of thought.

    Isn’t it a slippery slope from private insitutions disrciminating against attire to something being (unofficially) state-sanctioned? isn’t this how racism and other forms of discrimination get started?

    Should for e.g. blacks in the U.S simply have accepted their status, the fact that they weren’t welcome in establishments, on buses or through the front doors of homes? Should Rosa Parks jsut have put up and shut up and gotten off the bus since it was the rules of the transport system?
    Should lower caste people all over India have accepted that they were not welcome to be seen at all anywhere? Discrimination often starts in private homes, in people’s hearts and eventually gains a wider sanction.

    Its one thing with a uniform in a school, a government job or a dress code in a pub. of course states and insitutions have the right to enforce that. Yet, the like it or leave it argument becomes too simplistic. Would you be implying that sections of the population who feel discriminated against should not bother fighting for their rights? Because if you stretch your argument a notch, it would appear to be heading that way.

    Also, not all people have a choice regarding where to live. I’ve worked with UN refugees who landed up in Europe as part of arbit UN quota. Their integration is never simple even though you would imagine they would be overly thrilled just to be safe and free from persecution. Unfortunate maybe, but there are many shades of grey here, wot?

    Hope you’re less swollen and sore now!

    Me: But thats the entire point. There IS a line, may be a fine one – between rules and discrimination. You have to learn which one to fight for. The helmet rule was NOT made to discriminate against headgear -it was made to give you safety. so deal with it. the idea behind wearing a uniform to schools is that you are all one in this school and must follow its rules, regardless of what your religion is. the moment you wear something different – you are marking yourself out in school. then why draw the line there? let some rich kid come with bodyguards to sit in class because that is his personal and very dire need.

    so yes – i’d pick between rules that discriminate against me and fighting against a uniform code that is simply discipline

  36. Why do you ever bother replying to these … whatnots, MM? Why, why?

    Oh, and i found that article you linked to absolutely shocking. Looks like “free speech” is a thing of the past. If it ever existed, that is.

    On the whole, I totally agree about the stance that rules are rules. But when two systems of belief/rules that govern the same person collide, we’re in a really tricky grey area. Nothing is fully wrong or fully correct or even “fair” until the boundaries have been fixed.

    Secularly minded people like you and I will gladly subordinate our religion to the demands of the state. But what about those whose religion is more important to them than their nationality? I would say “Move to another country if this one doesn’t please you” off the top of my hat – but not everyone has those educational qualifications or economic luxuries.

    Me: You’re right. Not everyone has that option. So then they must grin and bear the one they have. Perhaps it *is* the move towards a more secular lifestyle i am looking at. religion has pretty much ruined everything.

    Hmph. I hereby declare that the root of all human problems lies in creating an artificial “impossibility” and then being faced with an “impossible” choice – which, of course, they refuse to make. Think Barabas the Jew.

  37. It *could* be your right, obviously, but I’m not so convinced it *should* be, if you follow me.

    Me: sure. argue that. but the point is, that could or should, at this point it *is* their right.

    in fact you wont get any argument really from me because i pretty much do as i please everywhere. but i do believe its this slippery slope and this constant adjusting for everyone and everything that has led our country into the mess its in.

    Like Mom Gone Mad I think I see too much possibility for misuse of such a right. Greater good and all that. Which is why I say that I don’t expect this in any other country but I do expect in India that I can wear any of the traditional dresses and go anywhere public.

    It’s nice to be arguing with you again. We’ve agreed too long and I was starting to think there was something wrong with me!

  38. all i want to say is, take care, enjoy. 🙂

    Me: LOL! I wish i could – but its hard when every action is looked at suspiciously for no reason!

  39. Sigh! What drama! Thanks MM! I was all depressed after losing my job yesterday,what with the recession and all that. Its just my part-time job,but you know how much that little thing means when you are a self-supporting student abroad. Anyway, the absolutely ridiculous arguments in the last 3 posts took my mind off it all.

    I’m just wondering,if they dont like someone’s opinion about something, why oh why would they waste their time arguing about it? Its ok to voice your opinion about it too,but why argue to a point of madness if it is not the same as the author of the blog’s ? Modifying one of our wise Boo’s statements – “That that people, their their opinions” 😀

    Me: pssst… careful. now they’re going to accuse you of apple polishing 😉 ‘they’ do that! which is my point too. i read blogs too and i state my point and move on. its rare we convert each other. and i’ve never been rude on another’s blog. i am amused by how hostile people can be…. and after 3 years of dealing with them nutjobs i’m equally nasty.

    and you lost your job 😦 poor baby. will talk to you off the blog

  40. to the other sonia,
    the reason why my name is without a link is because I don’t have a blog 🙂 Thank you.

    Me: yes, yes, we’re all aware of that. she’s just ensuring that her name is not associated with your comments!

  41. Oh btw, re: private establishments and their contribution towards discrimination, I have a point to make.

    A private establishment is guided by market principles. One saree-clad woman will be turned away from a disco. When the 1000th saree-clad woman turns up, that disco will start allowing sarees, or someone will open up a disco for saree-wearers. Ergo, when ONE private establishment chooses to discriminate, I don’t see it as that big an issue.
    On the other hand, if all discos, regulated by a central authority, ban saree-wearers from entering their premises – THAT is discrimination. THAT is a serious problem, which has to be fought against and tackled from the root.

    Ergo, even for the French school – if you don’t like the rules, shift to another school. If the argument is that that’s the best school and others will be worse – what price are you willing to pay for your religious ego?
    Ooooh.. I’m inviting trolls with this last bit, ain’t I? Feel free to delete it if you’re sick of the arguments today.

    Me: *braces for the troll attack that is sure to happen*
    Well Suki that is the point. Like Sue and MGM said and I agreed, it *is* a slippery slope and behind each argument you’ve got to see the reason. If you are told you cant come in because you’re uncool – well i’d give them a kick in the pants and tell everyone to boycott them. but i’d admit that they were within their rights.

    if its something like the helmet rule – its laid down by the government and for your personal safety – so there’s no point arguing discrimination. if it comes to school and scarves – well it isnt just Muslim girls. we had plenty of Hindu girls who wanted to wear really long skirts. but the school had a strict rule – two inches above the knee – and we all learned to work with it. if they had given in, there’d be no end. Soon we’d have mehendi, streaked hair – the works. Should the school care about the reasoning when their entire point is to ensure uniformity? Another point to ponder

    the problem with arguments like the segregation and scarf on head, is that people assume that others dont have religious pride and conflicts. But like you rightly said – what price are you willing to pay for it ?

  42. MM, looks I am not too late yet.

    When I was a kid, I used to always wonder why do I have to wear a uniform when Archie n Veronica don’t need to. My mom told me it was to ensure that all the outside influences – like religion and money (rich/poor) and caste etc stayed outside the school. So when we entered the gates, we were all on one level field. We were not Hindus or Muslims or rich or poor. – we were simply peers.

    Now in my office I have a dress code which I have to follow. Some day if i wear grey or beige, I think I am Mangal Pandey to have revoled against the tedious black and white. Now my line of work is such that I do have a dress code cuz I go to court 4-5 days a week.

    Again in professions like air-hostess etc, there is a dress code. Air force officers have to have clean shaven faces or neatly trimmed moustaches.

    IF i have to enter a gurudwara I have to cover my head and take off my shoes.

    Now if I can accept that in a gurudwara, then why not a disc?

    A disc is a place where we go to enjoy and many go there freely to enjoy without the restrictions imposed by the parents (no drinks, don’t talk to guys etc etc). Discs make money only when they are cool (Read short skirts, loud music, handsome guys etc).

    If I turned up in an old conservative club in shorts and floaters, I would be turned away. same logic in the case of a disc I guess.

    PS: Sorry for hogging space

    Me: please dont apologise. the entire point is to comment and you’ve done it a lot more politely than most others! i agree with you. and its the point i’ve been making from the start. that each place has its reasons for the code it enforces. the disco wants to look cool – fine – its their call because they make money off it. let them choose what image they want for it. just like any soft drink company chooses its ambassador to promote an image.

    and its also why today the brat’s school doesnt allow us to send more than a chocolate for birthdays. so that rich poor, hindu-muslim-christian, is all left out of school. its a temple of learning and i do believe when you are there, all other Gods should be given a break.

    and yayyyy!!!!! i have a lawyer on my side of the argument. there’s got to be some merit then!

  43. @Suki – The French ban against headscarves is a national ban. It cover ALL public, state-run educational institutions. And moving to a private school in France is a luxurry VERY few can afford.(Make that pretty much all of Europe.) You can pretty much forget it especially if you live in one of the satellite town around Paris. These immigrant groups are not exactly rich. So yes, to an extent, it can be perceived as state discrimination, in that they are deprived of a real choice here.

    But. To be fair to the French, the constitution in France has never been wishy-washy about the concept of Laicité – the separation of state and religion. They are and always have been totally uncompromising in their secular beliefs, so why is this suddenly a shock? Go figure:-)

    Me: which, i have a feeling, is the way to go…

    Migration doesn’t always come with a choice. But the majority of French migrants come from earlier French colonies. They can’t really argue that they were ignorant of French (absolute) values.

  44. what price am I willing to pay for my religious ego? All the world’s bestest schools if I must. okay? Im done good night.

    Me: 🙂 well i totally respect that in a person. standing up for their beliefs and willing to pay the price for it. for what its worth – schools do less for you than home does, i believe. goodnight.

  45. after all the comments, I’ve become kinda muddled…are we talking about the club-no-allow-saree thingy? or are we talking about the france-no-allow-scarf thingy?…err…about the former…well, yes, their place, their rules…but also I find it kinda insulting, I mean this is India afterall. My parents say when they were young, Calcutta Club used to have this rule, that to enter the club you had to be in either western formals, or dhuti-panjabi. That was fair, I think. I agree with the shoes thing too. But this is kinda insulting. I’m not gonna create a ruckus at the gate, but I’m not gonna be too happy about it either.

    Me: interesting. why would you agree with the shoes thing and be insulted about the saree?

  46. @MGM: I wasn’t clear about that, sorry for my ignorance. I thought it was one single school. But well… you’ve given the best answer yourself.

  47. Whoops…club, not vlub…about the scarf thingy though…I can’t decide. I read long ago that India, and the west understood secularism in different ways. They understand it to mean excluding all religions. We understand it to mean including all religions. But if a Muslim woman can’t wear her scarf, then a Sikh should not be allowed his hair and beard and pagree, and I think they are mostly allowed? Or aren’t they? I read about this thing in France a long time ago, and what I remember reading was that they wanted to discourage any visible signs of religious affiliation. Now if that is the case, then shouldn’t all Christians be asked to not wear a cross around their neck? Atleast make sure it’s not visible? I’m only asking all this because I’m not sure how far this thing is being uniformly enforced, across all communities.

  48. Oh…you correct my typos? How nice! Look, in Cal, whatever clubs I’ve been to, except the most stuck up ones, they allow sandals if they have straps, otherwise it’s considered a chappal, which I guess if fair? No? Janina baba!

    Me: yep. only yours. the rest are too painful. and Delhi doesnt allow the strap chappals

  49. With regard to your responses to anon’s comments, the case for the creation of Pakistan where the Muslims could exercise their religion freely just got stronger! and khalistan and another area for the strong practicing christians and another separate place for the purely practicing buddhists seems so much more plausible now 😉 draw more boundaries!
    oh and of course those who put nationality and other rules before religion can be compartmentalized in yet another geographical areas to wear western clothes at bars with secular rules 😉

  50. I agree with Sue that just saying “well, it’s the way it is, and they’re well within the rights of doing what they do” is not the *end* of the argument to me. Just as you say with rights come responsibility, with submission and acceptance comes perpetuation of what can be more and more discrimination. Often you’ve said you understand places that restrict children etc. but lament about what kind of people we are turning into – less and less tolerant, basically. Or I’m thinking about the time many mothers protested malls and stores banning breast-feeding. Yes the mall is a private place entitled to its rules but it was worthy enough a fight. So each institution – private or public, with its rules (not law, mind you) is a commentary on patterns and attitudes in society. And I don’t think it’s far-fetched at all to say that acceptance of even subtle discrimination in every day life makes us desensitized to larger issues.
    So the dissent on your blog, which is mistakenly directed towards you – I’d rather see directed towards the institutions itself. Every dissent no matter how much in the minority or unpopular is valid. I know you agree with that in theory but I’m just responding to saying that “yes, it should and could, but nevermind that, this is how it is” as sort of the last line in the argument doesn’t sit well with me. That’s the beginning to me. And while the saree in disco may not inspire a protest in me, something else will and I shouldn’t have to sit back and say a rule is a rule. Maybe you agree with that too but I think what’s probably making all these loons come out of the woodwork is that the post sort of gives the reader a feeling of “just accepting” because it’s a rule and if you disagree, too bad. While a lot of us feel that if we disagree enough, we should protest and fight. Not every issue is as seemingly trivial as entering or not entering a disc but the disc might be the starting place for squashing differing views and dissent.

  51. @Deep: In France, you can’t wear a cross around your neck (visibly) either in schools. Even though its a fashion statement more than a religious one.

    So in France, its nada:-)

    And MM.. how did this get to be about headscarves again?:-) Hope you’re getting some rest now. What an exhausting day of comment correspondence you’ve had:-)

  52. long time lurker, first time poster 🙂
    ok here’s my two cents
    In theory, I agree with what you said. Its a private institution, they make their own rules. So, if you don’t like them, go somewhere else.
    But where does this stop? If those rules are blatantly discriminatory, surely we need to speak up, protest, make a big deal of it.
    I once went to a nightclub in dubai and was refused entry for some vague reason saying we needed reservations. Other friends had managed to get in earlier without reservations and as we were being refused other folks (read not asian) were being allowed in. Now at the time, I was aware that a lot of such places refused entry to brown people under the guise that they didnt want too many people of one ethnicity in the place as others would feel uncomfortable. (of course, I don’t think too many white people in the club would ever be a problem for them).
    Anyway, this may sound like I’m rambling but I do have a point, this might have been their policy at the club, but it is wrong and discriminatory and should be protested against. We need to make a big noise about these things, it needs to change.
    oh…I think you did address this in a reply to someone’s comment, about how we pick what battles we want to fight.
    But here’s the thing, the night club thing seemed absolutely wrong to me, no rule should allow that. Just like that, the not being allowed to wear a head scarf, hijab in school is probably a huge deal for a muslim, because they feel it is blatant discrimination, you don’t just walk away from that, you fight it. Of course the institution has a right to make their rules, but if someone finds them so offensive they too have the right to take them to court for it and fight it.

    And as if this isnt long enough, I just wanted to add, I wish people weren’t so scared of our differences. I mean yes, we wear uniforms in school, but so what if you wear a head scarf with it, how will that interfere with anything. People are different, there are those who dress differently from me, maybe eat differently from me, but that doesnt make them freaks. We shouldn’t have to hide all our differences , how will we ever be comfortable with it? (sorry, this isn’t directed against anything you said, just my general rant)

    ok all this sounded a lot more lucid in my head, but hopefully you’ll get my point 🙂

  53. I liked what you wrote here, “Leave your ego and shoes at the door”

    How true!! But why people want to impose and enforce their views which they gained on the sidewalk is a mystery!

    Great post! Keep Blogging!!

  54. hmmm..tell me something …if it were not for the event would oyu have worn a Saree to a disc? Saree is way too classy and elegant for a disc maybe that is why you go the strange looks…

  55. As I said I am conflicted… I agree that everyone has a right to their rules and if I dont like it I dont go there and I think as you said in a comment earlier that there is line between discipline and discrimination and you choose which side you are on and fight for it….

  56. MM- how are the babies? dont I keep telling you over and over again-WRITE ABOUT THEM BABIES! and post pics.. you shall make me happy and wouldn’t have to waste time arguing with silly trolls ? 🙂

    Jokes apart, I always always thought schools should prohibit students from exhibiting their religious symbols –a hijab or a cross or vibhuthi/holy kumkum! children should not face any discrimination in school- religious or otherwise.. which is why the uniform concept was brought about..
    Similarly,private institutions definitely have their rights to set rules! guruvayur temple in Kerala mandates that men wear a dhothi and women wear skirts/sarees. Their rules! respect them if you want to go !!

    Anyways- chill out MM and bring on the cutesy posts..:)

  57. Am not familiar with the sari incident so will not comment on it. But I don’t agree with the French headscarf ban for a number of reasons, too long to go into here but just restrict myself to saying that the ban was not just about school rules but about a certain perception and implementation of secularism that, in my view, is intolerant and uninclusive and does more harm than good, that achieves more disintegration than integration. To put it crudely the argument went somewhat along the lines that to be French and to be secular, only one way of being was possible, it was not possible to be a student with a headscarf and be fully French at the same time, because that was disregarding the concept of laicite. I think I prefer the British and the Indian models of secularism that are slightly less sledge hammerish. The idea of national identity as being so uniform that it does not allow for difference of self-expression, including religious/cultural self-expression, that does not harm anyone else, and the terms in which the debate was presented was extremely disturbing. It is also not viable, theoretically or politically or practically, to construe the secular as the public and the religious as the private,a s that debate inevitably did, when those two things constantly overlap and are not always necessarily opposed (indeed, it is dangerous to oppose them)…but then I said I’d keep this comment short.

  58. Lots of people have expressed my views but I do feel strongly about this. I would feel very upset if I went some place in a saree and was turned away on that count. It’s a private, for-profit setup, I agree. But when something is obviously wrong, somebody does need to protest. A century ago private British establishments carried the sign “Dogs and Indians not allowed.” Will they get away with it today?

  59. The private institutions have the prerogative of forming whatever rules they want to.

    But the same does not apply to public institutions. As long as it does not infringe on others rights or affects one’s capability to work following one’s religious or cultural practices should be allowed.

    Wearing a scarf or a cross does not infringe on any one’s rights. Hence it should have been allowed.

  60. if every institution is allowed its rules -isnt govt of the country an institution? esp in a democracy it’s an elected approved institution. so if tmrw modi the hitler of our times is ruling india with 2/3 majority and forms rules like nazis, hunting down minorities n forcing coversions back to hinduism will u approve based on this logic? will you think of migrating to rome?

    just thinking loudly. no offence. i only doubt whether justifying discrimination at minor levels will come back to haunt us in more evil forms at much higher levels.

  61. Adding to what Deep said, the Cal Club rule, to be clear, is this:
    with Western attire you need closed shoes and full pants and collared shirts.
    with Indian attire you are allowed open sandals and legs shown below your dhuti and punjabis sans collars.

    So you can choose your dress code but you have to stick to it.

  62. And agree with you totally,, however I also agree to the right to free speech wherein anyone may criticize openly anything they do not agree with, as long as it does not degenerate into violence.

    Me: EGG-ZACKLY.

  63. sorry i’m back, but i soooo agree with mayya. i was just about to mention that, then realized i don’t want to hurt your head more.

  64. You know, although i do agree with you on the part about a place should have its own rules- i think where you’re wrong is in comparing a SAREE with hijab or even a pagree for that matter. see, you have an alternative to wearing a saari.. however there is no alternative to a hijab or pagree. not wearing a hijab-for us- is like not wearing anything AT ALL. compare not being allowed for wearing a saari to a disco, with being forced to be naked in school.

    That is how it is for us, and I hope you now understand how sensitive this issue is. and i hope you are willing to look at it from a different perspective. you have the right to believe whatever you want, but you also have the responsibility to listen to the victim’s opinion. thank you very much 🙂

    Me: I’m not comparing a saree to a hijab at all. and what if the lady in question only wears sarees? then? isnt that unfair? what makes you think she might be open to coming back in pants or a skirt? the fact that she wants to enter a disco?

    in that case – a lot of people also believe that a woman who wants education wouldnt believe in hijab. see where this is going?

    either way – the comparison was simply of laws. you are NOT a victim. you are making a choice. there are plenty of girls who dont do hijab and are also devout muslims, yes? or do you believe they’d have to be in hijab to be truly devout?

    anyway – this could be endless. i think we’ve both made our points. sure, campaign etc – but any school and every private institution, still IS within its rights to enforce a code and expect STUDENTS to follow it. I emphasise the word students because its at the school level that we’re expected to put all differences aside and follow a strict code.

    its a sensitive issue and i’ve even seen lots of kids from other religions take off their religious chains and amulets because school simply didnt permit it. i think thats fair enough.

  65. This is a tricky topic.

    What about the following scenario:

    1. A building only wants people who are from the same community. The owners are perfectly within their right to rent/sell their flats to the people of their choice.

    Building 2, a neighboring building, sees the policy of Building 1, and adopts it. Now two buildings are out of reach for a particular community.

    But Building 1 and Building 2 are well within their rights to do as they wish.

    Soon, there is a Building 3, Building 4, Building 5….Building 5,000…Building 50,000. All with the same policy.

    Finally, those at the wrong end of the policy are pushed into a corner. A ghetto is born.

    Other similar scenarios: a vegetarian-only locality (if you eat non-veg please find somewhere else to stay and eat); a beard-only nation (even women have to grow beards!); a non-hijab nation; a nation only for the purest of the pure…

    Just by wearing the same uniform in school do people become ‘uniform’? What about their names? Won’t the name give away their religious/caste identities? Should we do away with names and start giving them numbers? (Or start addressing them by their roll numbers?)
    What about the tiffin they bring?

    There is no end to this. If we seek otherness in others, we can find it in the most inconsequential of things. Uniform ain’t going to deter nobody.

    But what would be interesting is creating an atmosphere where there is a balance, a balance between the rationality of a uniform and the solidity of a belief, some middle ground where nobody is kicked out and assimilation is encouraged. Keeping people out is the easiest thing to do. That’s what rules are for. But to bring them in, that’s the challenge of the modern world.

  66. Wow! 🙂 I don’t really agree with you ( which is not new to you for this post, I think :D) simply because a public school as someone said above represents France the country itself and that shows their lack of tolerance, if at all.

    Me: actually – if you read the comments you’ll see that someone (I think MGM) has mentioned that France has always kept religion and nation very separate. i really like that way of thinking.

    Other than that – just wow @ some people being rude 😛 Its okay to not agree with MM without being all aggressive and war-like about it, you know?

  67. Probably be lost among all the comments but here’s my view :). I agree with the French no religious symbols in public schools, because they do enforce it across the board, no Catholic crosses, Jewish caps, Sikh turbans and Muslim headscarves. I think most schools in India follow similar, but a little more relaxed rules, which is probably why most Indians have an easier time accepting this. But the sari thing I am less sure of, it does sound like a bit like discrimination to me. I think this kind of discrimination cannot be controlled by the state because it is too subtle. And personally if I heard of such a pub I would voice my opinion using my wallet and stay away and made sure all my friends did too.

  68. I don’t have anything to comment on this topic, I guess enough has already been said. 😉 Just one question. How do you do this??? I mean, 2 kids under 4, a home and garden to take care of, full-time job, thougtful, well-researched posts everyday AND replying to almost every comment. Kudos to your enthusiasm and energy! 🙂

    Me: I dont sleep much. Honestly . 🙂

  69. @ ally

    but ally, criticism of nikita mehta abortion thing was also exercise of free speech … but i remember many of us (incl. urself) being very uncomfortable with that criticism being voiced on blogs.

    freedom of speech, yes, i agree with … but it is our responsibility as humans(?! i guess) to be considerate as far as most issues are concerned. PERSONAL choice to abort or not could be one of those issues. parenting choices could be another and so on.

    ideally, freedom should be accompanied by responsibility. the more we work on making that true, the better for everybody.

    or so is my humble opinion.

    Me: the thing is, roop – that it might be uncomfortable for the people in question – but this sort of open debate is needed. i feel sorry for them. but if that means sweeping everything under the carpet, i’m afraid i cant support that.

  70. I agree – pvt. institutions should be allowed their rules as long as those rules are not there to subvert the safety or security of the nation.

    However, I love wearing saree and have been to pubs/discos in them. Mostly because socializing was happening post work and it makes no sense to trudge home to change knowing everything in Bangalore turns off by 11.30! But more importantly, I got looks of admiration and haven’t ever received sniggers et al. It helps that most of these places donot have a stated ‘dress code’. If it did, I would surely respect that and either follow the rule or stay away. I have also taken my mother once (in her dakai saree) to a ‘teenager-infested, trance-playing’ pub because she wanted to know what the ‘noise’ is all about and no one paid us any extra attention. To digress, have you noticed that most of the Clubs specify dress code for men only..

  71. ” If it’s a law, you have to follow it, no matter what your religion has to say about it. You don’t like it, move to a country where religious laws prevail. ”
    MM, I wouldnt agree with this at all. Over times, several laws have been changed, scrapped away because people protested. This way the Taliban might say, its my country and my laws prevail and make any no of crappy laws. Public dissent is an important means of expression when gone about peacefully. Autocracy, whether of the state or any establishment is not the way to go. While some rules are good and discipline is paramount, those making the rules have to also respect the sentiments of people for whom it is meant. At the same time, people ought to try and be a little flexible as well 🙂

    And I think saris are hot, anywhere, anyplace 🙂

    Me: Yuva – I’ll take one line out of your argument. That rules have to respect the sentiments of the people. So which people? Would that include Muthalik and Raj Thakeray too? And their goons? To my mind, most of the laws in our country are reasonable. The rest, we’re contesting anyway. When you talk of respecting everybody’s sentiments, its rather tough given the diversity of every country today. So many migrants, so many tribes…

    Take the example of private institutions too. What if someone wants to work at the Taj front desk in a veil? What if I demand that my company make Christmas a holiday? It isnt, and I had to take it off – whereas all other festivals are holidays here. Anyway – the point is, I’m not going to campaign for it, because I believe that if I dont like it, I can go elsewhere. Really. I do.

  72. This is in reply to anon’s comment on Hijab…..
    What she is missing in the whole conversation is that no one is asking her not to wear Hijab…..the point is that if some place (esp school)wants to follow a uniform/particular dress code, then it needs to be followed at all costs….

    If someone refuses to follow that dress code on the pretext of religious requirements, then they have a choice in Islamic schools…..you cant’ expect a school operating in a plural society to change its norms for one particular faith….the very concept of pluralism will loose its meaning…..

    I am again making it clear that my comment is only in the context of schools……and that too one which doesn’t promote one particular religion…..

    I come from Dehradun and we have so many missionary schools but none of them promotes one particular faith so you cant expect someone to insist on wearing a hijab in those school just because religion says so……

  73. Dewd, I believe the turbaned Sikhs are by law exempted from wearing helmets in Delhi. They wouldn’t fit, either.

    (The commentspace on this post is like a war zone! I never did get the point of the Deb(ating) Soc(iety) in college– endless arguments with no resolution or closure.)

    me: sharrup perakath. lawyer. will only debate for money :p
    and abt the sikhs – well whether it fits or not is another debate – have you never seen all those Sikhs in baseball caps over the patkas? anyway – its not my place to give them suggestions. its just that its a law that some people arent following and the loss is entirely theirs

  74. I find myself agreeing with creativecity (gulp). I don’t think uniforms bring uniformity. I’ve worn uniforms to school all my life, but distinctions among students were very pronounced. I think uniformity comes from appreciation and understanding of differences, rather than physically removing them. Also, I have always wondered, won’t forcing people to not do something make doing that very something a lot more…err…what’s the word I’m looking for? You know, like when you tell a child, “don’t touch this”, that’s the first thing the child will do.

    But France is a great nation. I’m sure they know what they are doing.

    @ Perakath – the point to the debate is the debate, make you see someone else’s point of view.

    Me: You have a valid point. And its only pointed because of the girls making a fuss. Now everyone knows they’re ‘different’. i’m sure there were jews, christians and many others but no one really realised it until they were older and friends.

    my kids start big school at 3.5 They have no idea about your religious affiliations because of your name at this stage, so any friends they make – are going to be their friends for keeps. And they’ll only figure out later if the child is another religion. Similarly none of the other kids at this age realise that my kids are of no religion at all. because the enforces strict uniform, kids arent allowed to bring food from home and on birthdays, you arent allowed to distribute anything in class. which is a great thing because in a place like delhi, the only thing that is a leveller, is school.

  75. @ Alok – doesn’t a missionary school promote Christianity? I was in Don Bosco, and we had compulsory Bible History classes.

    As for anon’s comments, if no one was stopping people from wearing Hijab in France, then this debate wouldn’t have been happening.

    Me: Actually I was in a missionary school and the compulsory classes were only for the christians. the rest of our programmes started with the Saraswati Vandana. So there are schools and schools. Personally I wish they’d left the whole lot out of the school and stuck to maths and geography, leaving our parents to choose what they wish to teach us in terms of religion.

  76. Have thought over this some more. What you are saying makes sense. A school is better off without religious symbols. If taken to logical extremes, a religion-infested school will resemble a battleground: trishul against kirpan against swords against hammers-&-sickles (Marxist progeny) against spears against bows-&-arrows…then the unending breaks for pujas, aartis, bhajans, namaaz, azaans, mass, gurbani, monk-chantings…the mind boggles.
    But again there is that delicate issue of the open-to-everybody school being partial towards one religion, as if it is composed only of students of a single religious persuasion, pretending that the ‘other’ few and their faiths don’t exist…
    Religion is a tricky thing, mix it with any topic and it becomes lethal instantly.

    Me: True. Which is why I believe in religion really being kept out of the public life and really personal. Not on the roads and in school…

  77. “kids arent allowed to bring food from home”
    Wow…that must be cool for working parents!

    Me: I think its cool for all parents because its painful to get up early in the morning and rack your brains. non-cooks like me are always out of ideas and calling friends for tiffin ideas! the cool part though, is that the children learn to eat everything because their friends are eating the same thing. and also they get hot meals unlike the tiffin carried from home. finally of course it saves us the problem of forcing our kids to eat healthy meals while other kids bring chocolate oreos and unhealthy stuff. so yeah!! this idea totally rocks as far as i am concerned!

  78. It wasn’t like that in Dehradun…..as Biblical classes was only meant for Christian students……Non Christian students used to take moral science during those hours…

    Me: yeah. Same in my school. And even among us Christian students, we could opt out if we didnt want to take them.

  79. @Dreamcatcher(#79): From my negligible clubbing experience in Calcutta, clubs go out on a limb to attract girls – free entry, complimentary drinks, the whole works. If they started setting a dress code for girls, even less of them would go clubbing – attracting even less guys to the club. All in all, bad business.
    It’s a double-edged sword, but we women are a prized commodity(a very intentionally used word) in the Club sphere.

    @mayya(#52): And as for the creation of a separate state for every sect – isn’t that exactly what happens? When a sect gains enough power and wants to stand up against everyone else, it breaks away and makes a space of its own. Those in power are the ones who rewrite public opinion and history. Ethics, principles, ideologies… they’re all constructed by those who have power over others. It’s all about power in the end. That’s my very brutal opinion.

    Me: I’m going to go further out on a limb and say that a club is looking for a certain crowd that it doesnt expect to see in a saree. its a different matter that i too have ended up there in a saree. similarly – i think schools etc believe that if you’re coming there for an education you’re open minded enough to follow their simple rules. You could argue the whole broadminded vs religious and whether they’re mutually exclusive, but thats a diff argument.

  80. MM, did you see today’s HT? A muslim kid has taken his Christian school to Supreme Court because the school asked him to shave off his beard which he says is against the tenets of his religion? He also said that the Sikhs have been allowed to keep theirs.

    What do you say on that?

    The Apex Court has asked if he school receives any govt. support in which case they cannot ask the kid to shave his beard. However, if it is a minority institution, then under article 30 of the Constitution they are well within their rights to ask the kid to shave off his beard.

    What’s your take on tht?

    PS: Have you crossed a century on this post?

    Me: LOL! I saw that this morning and groaned. no end to this drama i guess. well yes, technically, specially since i have the lawyer on my side, they are well within their rights. but the kid is right. if sikh students are allowed a turban and long hair to school while other little boys arent, there has to be some sort of rationale… i wonder where it will go.

  81. Demmit I missed this drama (bads on me for not blogging)! Ok, my five pence (am going to split into two comments):

    1) Every private establishment has a right to decide the rules by which they will allow people to enter said establishment – as long as it does not infringe on any human right.

    The reason clubs and discos would refuse entry to people wearing Indian clothes (sarees OR kurtas) is because they are catering to a clientele that’s interested in a Western idea. But, it’s more than that. You can also get turned away if you turn up in shorts. Or wearing flip-flops (as I can confirm).

    2) This same rationale extends to any private establishment – you’ve probably all seen signs in restaurants ‘reserving the right to refuse entry’. If you turn up at an eatery in tattered clothes and muck smeared all over, you will not be allowed in. Because then your other clients will be turned off, and may take their business elsewhere.

    3) Basically, this isn’t about culture or religion – it’s about business, and about catering to the majority of your clientele. As someone said, if a party of 60 women turned up at that club together, they would be ushered in, because the club would know they would get more business from them.

  82. About the whole religion angle. In Western Europe, the open display of religious symbols is not allowed in the public sector. Whether you’re Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, or whatever else. Now please (all) note, I’m not saying this is right or wrong, this is just how it is.

    Last year, there was a huge case in England, when a woman from BA was fired for wearing a crucifix around her neck over her clothes. Sikhs and Muslims have been fighting the French authorities for a while.

    The rationale behind the decision is this (and I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong, I’m just pointing it out) – religion is a private matter, and it should not become an issue of public conflict, such as by provoking or making uncomfortable people of other religions, or indeed, no religion.

    You want to pray? Fine. But at home, or in a holy place of your choosing. You want to wear a crucifix, or sindoor? Fine. But don’t flaunt it. And if you can’t deal with it, you find a school or job where you are free to do so.

    Now, obviously there are flaws in this theory – not least the possibility of it encouraging the feeling of marginalisation and the rise of ghettoisation – but it works to an extent.

    Again, it’s the rule of the majority. A century ago, religion was open and you had to follow it. Today, the majority want it to be private, and these countries have bowed to that.

    Me: excellent. now who wants to argue with the mysterious ??! I have HER on my side too 😉 most unexpectedly, i might add!

  83. And finally, what’s with the truncated feeds again? Stop driving traffic to your blog, you get enough hits already. Full feeds!

    Me: *puts hands on waist and taps foot impatiently*
    alright missy – and where have you been all these days? see – i now have to cut feeds to be honoured by your presence. i rest my case. :p

  84. Hey,

    As much as I hate the moral police, I can’t stand people who discriminate. The very idea that this pub owner thinks a sari clad woman is somehow going to damage it’s image … to me is discriminatory and also intolerant. And if there’s anything I hate other than kids’ illnesses’, it’s intolerance!

    But I have to agree with you MM… it’s a private institution and it can do whatever the heck it wants to… It’s got rules and people have to follow them. I have rules in my house and my kids are expected to follow them… me included. Put up or shut up!

    But I’ve got a better idea. If someone ( and guessing by some really “out there” comments on your site) doesn’t like the pub’s decision then protest it ( peacefully of course) maybe 10 sari clad women can stand outside the pub on Saturday nights, write about it, spread the word . Ask them if they can boycott the establishment. If they don’t then leave them alone. Obviously they don’t agree with you. And if the pub owner still won’t budge.. then really leave it alone.

    And

    Here’s an opportunity for an entrepreneur with some means… there’s obviously a market out there. How about open another pub that discriminates against none? Anyone wearing ethnic clothing, wearing any religious symbol is welcomed. It can be called “Madira – A true Indian pub for Everyone” . And how about creating an Indian ambience … wine in steel glasses, hookah etc.. you get the drift. (maybe there’s one already) I’d certainly go to it. ‘Cause I am a sari clad, pub going, madira drinking behnji who can put any dhoti wearing, pub going, madira drinking bhaiyaji to shame.

    peace 🙂

    Me: hey BZ 🙂
    alright – lets put it this way – few women today wear sarees as often as i do. i wear them to a media organisation where people come to work in *shudder* shorts and flipflops at times. i think we need to bring the saree back into the public arena. its amusing to see lots of people fight for the right while most will own up that they cant even wear it without help. seems rather pointless to fight for a right that no one seems to exercise 😉

    – then coming to the point of discrimination. its a moneymaking business. they have a right to decide on an image na? we may not like it but hey… so many places didnt sell makeup that suited dark complexions, for ages. all you got was reds and pinks that only the fairest of fair could wear. that was their call. a business opportunity was noticed there of course and others cashed in. similarly yes, maybe someone who wants an image of saree wearing dancers, can open up a pub that accepts it.

    there are lots of places that want a certain clientele and they have a right to it. places that are pure veg, that are pure non-veg, that only give you chopsticks to eat with, that serve food that starts at Rs 2000 per dish… we can complain – but like you said – they are spending money on running it, they have a right to decide who they want there

  85. There is often a huge gap between what ‘should’ and what ‘is’. But if someplace does have a dress code, 1) either accept it and dress accordingly, 2) don’t patronize the place, or 3) try and raise awareness among people and patrons that the dress code is unacceptable, change it, and go dressed as you want to. 🙂 Totally agree.

  86. MM, Apex court turned down the kid’s plea cuz the school is an unaided institution and they are well within heir rights to impose such restrictions. However, if this had been an aided institution, they couldn’t have done so.

    Me: there are technicalities of that sort? okay. and here’s the link for those wondering what we’re going on about. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/SC-rejects-Muslims-plea-to-sport-beard-says-no-Talibanisation-of-India/articleshow/4336671.cms

  87. Hey, I am with you on the saree thing. If it hurts their business, they are well within their rights. I am not sure what I think of the religious thing. It does more harm then good IMO.
    So I linked you. Hope you don’t mind.

  88. Pingback: Is religion a dirty word? « Tears and Dreams

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