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Uniforms that needs to be changed

A uniform is a set of standard clothing worn by members of an organization while participating in that organization’s activity. Modern uniforms are worn by armed forces and paramilitary organizations such as police, emergency services, security guards, in some workplaces and schools and by inmates in prisons.

– Wikipedia

Uniforms gives an identity , recognition, professionalism and in case of armed force , lawyers etc commands  an instant respect . As a kid , most of us would have grown up with memories of school uniforms. Uniforms are indispensible in various professions and though one likes it or not have no other option but to wear it.

Still , there are some uniforms that needs a complete revamp be it on design aspects , functionality or both. Here are some the uniforms that I feel needs a serious relook.

The Black Coat :

There is no second thought for what could top the list of uniform that needs to be seriously reworked , the obvious choice being “ The famous Black Coat ” of lawyers ! The power of black that walks the corridors of lower courts to supreme court ! Black and Khaki rules the masses in India . We will come to Khaki later and finish the black first !

It is a medical wonder how the thousands of lawyers across the hot , hotter and hottest parts of India manage to wear the black coat and still manage to fight it out in court battles ! The dress of the lawyer is not suitable for the climate and weather of our country but still the practice exists thanks to the dress code mentioned in the Advocates Act , 1961. The black coat  is one typical example of the still existing colonial hangover. Our Indian law system is heavily borrowed from the British law that the language of the courts is not ours, the laws are not ours, and the dress is not ours . I did not mean it but this is how Justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari a retired chief justice of Mahrashtra views and he is right too. How many times have you wondered why the lawyers address the judge as “My Lord” instead of a simple “sir” ! This is simply the most famous word that any lawyer would say in a movie scene wearing a black coat in courtroom ! Its the same in real too. Its high time the usage of word along with the black coat is shown the door , in the interest of the lawyers at least.

Advocate Asim Sarode , a socio-legal activist and protector of human rights , is campaigning to change the dress code of his legal fraternity and says “ the major reason for a change is the health hazard the black coat causes. In America and Europe, the weather conditions allow such a dress code. I would prefer a simple shirt with a black collar “ . A simple shirt with a black collar definitely would be a good choice , unless any other designers comes up with a better design.

The Men in Khaki :

After the Black comes the famous khaki color ,one of the the most widely used and abused color in India.  When you say Khaki , the picture that immediately comes before is of Men in Khaki – the Indian Police . Of course , Khaki also finds way in the uniforms of government school children ,polytechnic students  , Auto drivers , bus conductors , drivers , government industrial employees etc and not to forget the Ghurkas who guard the streets. Still , the power of Khaki remains with the Indian Police Force. Movies after movies have glorified the powers of Khaki that it can easily be called the national color of secular India !

Police force are supposed to be the guardians of civil society . Their uniform naturally commands respect , power and authority. I am not sure if changing the color khaki entirely from the Indian Police uniform would be a wise thing. Khaki makes a good choice , considering the dust and pollution of Indian cities. So it seems to make sense for the right choice for police uniforms . In 2008 , Himachal Pradesh government has changed their state police uniform to dark blue trousers, light blue shirt and blue beret. I doubt such color would be ideal for most other states of India and especially Indian cities considering the dust and pollution levels.

May be the Khaki color could be used wisely along with other suitable color and the uniform be made smart , functional and more practical but the current uniform definitely needs a relook.

Tuk Tuk Tukwalas :

Auto rickshaws are unique public transport vehicle of South and east Asian countries. They are easily the most daredevil riders of the Indian city roads. Hate them or love them but you cannot ignore them on the roads and they play an important role in commuting in cities and small towns of India. I am not sure about North India but in south Indian states , the auto drivers are mandatory to wear an uniform and no guess about the color , its the Khaki again ! Cops could fine auto drives if they are found driving without the uniform. The auto drives could be seen sporting their uniforms in various styles that could reflect their personalities . Some wear the khaki shirt with all buttons opened up like a jacket , some open up 3-4 buttons , some have their colors turned up , some have the sleeves folded way up , some have the full sleeves all buttoned up , some wear the khaki trouser too and rarely you will find some drivers smartly dressed with tucked in khaki shirts and khaki trousers. So the khaki uniform stays but how they sport it depends on their whims and fancies ! Auto drivers play an important role in public sphere of Indian cities and towns. Tourists depends on them in going around the cities. ( Most tourist of Europe and Americas get fascinated travelling in autos ! ) So a professional looking uniform can bring a good impression about the Indian cities and towns especially when tourism is a multi billion industry now. So a proper dress code for Auto drives is very much important and also important is how they wear it and carry it.

It also applies for taxi drivers , bus drivers , conductors etc. Government should come with a dress code that could identify each class of drivers of different transport medium.

The sewage workers :

It’s India’s shame that despite an Act of Parliament to ban of manual scavenging , the practice still exists. I would not want an uniform but a complete practical abolishment of such practice and honor and respect the life of people who had no other choice but to make a livelihood out of it and provide them decent alternate employment.

For other municipal workers who would be still working in cleaning of other means , a proper , safe , functional dress and safety measures that protect their health and respect the dignity of the individual who does the work is necessary , mandatory and compulsory. It is the duty of the government to make sure the municipal workers of the lower strata are taken care of humanely.

I came across few articles that are really horrific . The link
for one such article is >>
India’s Shame

Well , this are some of the dress codes / uniform I think needs a makeover. There are other professions to in various walk of life that could have a better , functional dress with changing times and technologies like Army uniform .

If you think of any other uniform that needs an image make over , do share with me with your thoughts .

0 23 June, 2009 India Matters June 23, 2009

About the author

He is the lead man of GingerChai and plays the multi role of chief author, editor, business development and also of a chaiwala! (Tea maker!) He is the master brewer at Ginger Chai.

View all articles by Lakshmi Rajan


  1. omsherryom

    now also, the gap between formal dress and an informal one has been blurred. Uniforms are fast loosing out apart from these professional u have mentioned. Also an update on Uniforms: The UP State Pincipal’s Association of Colleges have banned wearing of jeans-tops and use of mobile inside the college premesis. Right or wrong ! is a debatable point…

  2. leafless

    I am not from India so I will stay away from the debate’s fray.

    I do object to schools requiring students wearing uniforms though. I don’t see the symbolic value in that.

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