Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Satire Over Attire

The following letter popped into my email this morning and I thought it worth sharing on my blog (although this is not in keeping with my usual servings of original content):

Part One


On this poignant occasion I would like to make an observation after my recent visit to Delhi/Gurgaon and having met Col Moorthy I hope you all will take this constructive criticism and not negative comments about Defence services in India.

Let me first start by the experience that I had in Defence Service Officers' Institute, Dhaula Kuan. I attended a private party there but was stopped because I was wearing Kurta Pyjama - a very Indian dress!! I had to change into shirt and trousers to attend.

I just could not believe that after 63 years of Independence the Defence services are not only still following but also robustly enforcing a British legacy dress code that was meant to keep "Indians" out of the British establishments.

Can anyone of you explain to me why this archaic and anti-Indian rule is still being enforced with such vigour? India is a democratic country. DSOI is not a private club but is paid for by tax payer's money. If Dr Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, were to come to DSOI he will not be allowed to enter if he is wearing his usual Indian dress!!! How can Defence services be proud to be Indian and ask civilians and politicians to strengthen the defence services when they cannot shake off the British legacy?? - Dinesh Verma

Part Two

Dear Shri Verma,

I do not know you, your age, profession and other details. Hence I am keeping my viewpoint brief and pointed. We shall discuss each issue raised in the mail.

Firstly the title goes overboard without establishing any base for a viewpoint.

Secondly the DSOI is a club wholly funded by the members and some private and regimental fund. No public fund is involved. Hence the Institute is a private club and no taxpayers money is involved.

Thirdly, the Kurta Pyjama maybe Indian; so is a Langot which is the only garment worn by many children in rural areas. In the south men wear only lungis around their waist and tie a towel around their heads. In many tribes of India women go bare breasted. These are all Indian dresses. Surely it is not your case that the DSOI should permit all these dresses purely because they are worn in some parts of the country.

Fourthly, I usually wear a kurta pyjama to sleep as night suit; it may be worn in some parts of North India as a casual dress (however fancy; it still remains a casual dress) to each others homes, but that is a regional practice. By the same logic, if Kurta pyjama is allowed in the DSOI, children should be allowed in Langots and adults in Lungi etc.

Fifthly, the dress code in the Army is laid down in the Red Book (an amendment to Dress Regulations for the Army). The formal dress is the National Dress or Dinner Jacket (Black Tie/Tuxedo), for an event in a club ordinarily one is expected to dress formally. So the guests could be in the National Dress which is what the PM is often seen wearing. The PM does not wear a pyjama to the office.

Sixthly, in India the bulk of the people wear a trouser and shirt. It has ceased to have any colonial connotation; those who try to attach some such non-existent significance to it are off the mark. In fact the club has gone to the extent (which I am not in agreement at all with) of even allowing T shirts with collar; for male members. Even the tie has been done away with, in deference to the hot climate.

Seventhly, just for the record we tend to run down the British (though I am no fan of theirs) in their own English language.

Eighthly, being a private club meant for defense service officers and their families the members are at liberty to lay down the dresses which are allowed in the club.

Ninthly, the club by allowing an individual to utilise its facilities albeit at a fee is within its rights to expect the guests to adhere to its customs. Taking off from your analogy if you are invited to the Presidents Estate you would take pains to find out what to wear; why not to your friends party.

Tenthly, if you are in the corporate world try going to your office in a Kurta Pyjama with the same logic that it is an Indian dress.

Lastly, the dress is usually mentioned in all invitations from service personnel. If left out one must enquire, particularly if at a Defence Establishment, that much is elementary.

This rejoinder may be impersonal in tone, but I have had enough SH*T with people telling the Army what to do. Our brainless media and the half educated public are often commenting on matters on which they have no idea; from Golf Courses, Canteen facilities, orderlies, the AWWA etc.

I say damn FOOLs, before you express an opinion, least you can do is find out.

With Best Wishes,

Yours Sincerely,

Col PK Nair (retd)

{I thank the latter for my morning's dose of chuckles.}


  1. Awestruck... quite agree with reply substance, however found flavour not delicately summoned.

  2. Lightning-struck(exercising my dramatic feline rights here!).;-)

    And for the chuckles....Merci.

  3. Excellent advice. Least they can do is do their homework. Would love to see the "poignant desi's" face. (Grinning wickedly.)

  4. *grin*
    I want to shake Col PK Nair's retired hand. :)

  5. That's quite an interesting read you have there. I couldn't help thinking of the city night clubs and some pubs that insist on a dress code of no T-Shirts/jeans and sandals. Only shoes and formals. But all that applied to gents only... ladies are exempt from all dress codes. Theoretically you could go in looking like fisher-woman and the bouncer can talk to your hand! Of course I haven't seen this ever happen practically. They seem to be genetically neatly dressed.

    Would love to know your opinion on this. How's it in the DSOI parties? Do women have a dress code... saris or something?


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