According to a letter by the Commissionerate of College Education to all state-run colleges, the principals are expected to decide the colour of the dress for boys and girls and submit the final order by March 12. Colleges, which already have a dress code, have been asked to specify their uniforms.
The dress code will be applied to all students as long as they are on campus. A similar decision covering teaching staff has been put on hold for now. Students, teachers and activists have termed the move regressive and a violation of their right to choose what to wear.
A History professor who didn't wish to be named said that "when the world is taking one step forward, India is taking two steps back. It's obnoxious."
Anjali Meena, a first year student at Kanoria College, said, "These are our years of freedom, after we get married we may or may not be allowed to wear jeans and T-shirts, it's unfair that we aren't given an option to choose what we wear."
Her classmate Megha Saini is also wondering why the boys in her college are not being forced to wear kurts pyjama. "The government says that boys and girls are equal, but this is discrimination."
The opposition has accused the BJP government in the state of "saffronising" education. The Congress has promised to oppose the decision. The government had earlier distributed saffron-coloured cycles and changed the colour of the school uniforms as well, said Govind Singh Dotasra, Congress lawmaker from Lakshmangarh. "This government wants to make babas, not doctors or engineers," he alleged.
Dismissing the allegations, education minister Kiran Maheshwari said that the move is aimed at separating students from outsiders and former students who often enter the colleges and create nuisance. The decision over colour and style of the uniform has been left to the colleges.
"During the 'Guru-Shishya Samvad' (student-teacher dialogue) in the state, the demand for dress code was raised. It will help promote discipline on the campus. It's not a diktat and it will be implemented only after the principals, administrations hold discussions with college unions and they come to a consensus."
Last year, soon after taking charge of the country's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had asked the state-run as well as aided colleges to ensure a dress code. The teachers were asked to dress up "modestly" and ''give up jeans and T-shirts". "Teachers are role models for students; if they are dressed decorously, students will follow suit," the circular read.