Lots happening as I write this piece. Not much peace though – Ukraine or elsewhere. Putin to bat, the US and NATO, are having a tough time trying to score even a single run! Everyone is fighting for something or the other that they think is important to them or their brothers, or even sometimes, others! Sometimes they don’t think, but are told what to think, and they think that they thought it too, but not through!. Is that true? But love was shining on Valentine’s Day. Love for the Clothing we wear, its form – Uni or disruptive, and there was more as Go-a went …into its defective (defector) elections.
Most wore clothes that did not disturb Law and Order because it was an order. And amid all this, foolish me thought it was a lack of clothes is what would disturb law and order. In fact, I now learn its just the opposite – the more the clothes, the more likely it is that Law and Order will be disturbed, I stand corrected but will not take the clothes stand – like so many others. I prefer not to hang them out to dry even if they are dirty, for there are creases in my clothes that I can’t iron out, even if I’m pressed. But not so, for many others!
Importantly the father of the two-wheeler revolution in India (now everyone rides a two-wheeler and has forgotten how to walk, creating a spate of Hrudalayas) one akin to the White revolution pioneered by Vargheese Kurian (where everyone can drink milk from a bottle not just babies), Rahul Bajaj, passed away a day previously as did India’s most loved Nightingale, Lata Mangeshkar in the previous week. But their legacies live on…
So many important events, events that will shape the world and our lives in the days to come and we were concerned, nay, consumed – we are a consumerist society – by what we wear, or rather who wears what! Because we live in Karnataka! Which reminds me, Karnataka has a service portal / center called Karnataka One – but it now may need to open a new one – Karnataka more than one!
That is for the powers that be to decide to stay in power, but from leaves to animal skins, to animal fur, to yarn made from natural fiber to polyester and lycra that costs helluva lot of lucre, from being hand made to assembly production, clothes have come a long way (some estimate as long as 3 million years ago) as have their designs. Some are designed to cover up imperfections and some are designed to uncover perfection. In both cases, attraction of another human being is the sole objective. The corollary is the question, would human beings repel each other if there were to wear no clothes like similar polarities do in a magnet?
Anyway, what is important (else we would have all been happy without clothes) is that they help protect, preserve and promote. Protect the body from invasive elements like insects and human beings – a reading of a recent High Court judgement about skin-to-skin contact is educative in this regard, preserve the body as it is (not after death – that would be embalming) by preventing the elements from interfering with the body’s internal management software and thus increase comfort, and of course promote – making the body seem more attractive than it really is just like face cream or body lotion. Take the case of the Corset!
First, man made clothes and now “clothes maketh the man!” It is a famous saying that dates back to the 1400’s. Is it the truth? Yes possibly. If you are honest, you will know that you are judged based on your clothes and once judged, you are treated accordingly! No FIR or Court required. But if you dress to emulate or imitate you can actually shape your behaviour or the way you perform. Try dressing as one of your heroes and see the difference! Don’t undress, because you will be no match to your hero!
We all know that we change our clothes to suit the occasion. We do not change the occasion to suit our clothes, and we follow what is called a dress code at occasions, at institutions, at home and generally everywhere, that either defines us or suppresses our definition. It is the foundation of our social and cultural identity, a foundation that is often set in stone or preserved in stone much like the rock inscriptions of yore. We really don’t know what they mean or why they are there, but we are proud to see them! Their lack can lead to a craving in, or our carving of, by others and therein perhaps lies the conundrum that our polity and politicos are facing!
The challenge arises because clothing is meant to differentiate. It creates individual, occupational, social, and sexual differentiation that we rely upon for our very existence and maybe, just maybe, happiness when you wear a Louis Vuitton or a Gucci or something outrageous!
If clothing is meant to differentiate why make it uniform? One nation, one colour, one dress code? We are currently fascinated by the concept of One, just like ancient India was fascinated by the Concept of Zero. That’s a great binary environment. If you are not one then you are a zero!
Its a loaded question, like Russia’s guns against Ukraine. The USA and NATO are on the other side and Ukraine in the Middle! But it is not as if you can make a fish, a squirrel or an Eagle, by changing its clothes, as in the “The Emperor’s New Clothes” a literary folktale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about a vain emperor who gets exposed before his subjects. Right?
Maybe it’s like a pair of black gloves: a single piece of cloth or leather and colour that covers five fingers of different shapes, size and flexibility. They don’t really alter the differences or cover them up beyond a point…. But they provide a sense of group identity – it helps you belong to a group which gives you strength, brings about discipline, and a sense of equality if not equity.
Equality and Equity – Same colour clothes, but different patterns to suit genders, though none yet for the emerging ones! A uniform provides equality, but rarely equity. It is expressive of group identity yet controls individual expression. So many paradoxes in one piece of cloth, which if torn, creates an entirely new problem. So, is there a uniform solution for the uniform that must allow you to express your identity and yet equalizes it – like the uniform itself? Work it out before others do! Its the kapdagoras theorem in practice…
It was Christ Hospital School in London in 1552 that was first school to use a school uniform, and since then it has evolved and expanded its reach across the world to the armed services, manufacturing firms and even politicos in India who first wore and have now ditched the white khadi and the Gandhi Cap (the symbol of self-rule or swaraj and purity and honesty maybe?) and moved on to designer suits. Have the British come back?
Imposed, never voluntarily accepted, the topic of school uniforms has always raised and never solved, a multitude of controversies and debates over the years. Debates concerning the constitutionality, suppression of social and religious identity; the economic feasibility of uniforms also contributes to the controversy which mostly though revolves around constitutional rights and freedoms.
All these don’t matter if you don’t have them at all. There is debate only when you are told you have them, believe you have them and yet don’t have them! It’s like when you are presented with beautifully wrapped (with many layers) gift, which when you open, is empty, or like the Russian Matryoshka dolls also known as babushka dolls – a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another until there are none!
Well go looking, and you might find it before the end of the week – the uniform solution to a uniform question I mean. Good luck guys. Stay in-form and in-form(ed), even if not in uniform!
This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.
Image by Aamir Mohd Khan