The government medical college campuses in Kerala are in turmoil with the issuance of a circular that has banned clothes like leggings and jeans for students while on campus. The circular also specifies that the students have to follow a dress code that requires girls to wear Salwar Kameez or Saree and boys to enter the campus in formal attire only. Girls have also been asked to keep their hair tied up and restrain from using chappals and “noisy ornaments”.
According to the officials, the dress code has also been made mandatory due the increasing conflicts between the students and bystanders who often mistake the students due to the absence of an over-coat and identity card.
Protesting this decision, Dr. Jinesh P, lecturer in the Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical College, Kottayam, had posted a message on his Facebook account along with the photograph of the circular.
“A controversy of this sort should never arise in a medical college campus because the students here have more serious job to do rather than giving importance to the dress code. However, it is very important because we deal with different kinds of patients and bystanders everyday and it is mandatory that we dress neatly and in a decent manner. But my point of argument is that every rule needs to be updated periodically and the present circular that was compiled years ago should undergo necessary changes. I am not against a uniform dress code, but my question is that is it necessary for children above 18? Asking them to dress appropriately is only required, ” he says.
He is of the opinion that at the time when the circular was formulated, women only used to wear saree. However, time has changed and more options are available nowadays. Therefore, the focus should be on the way dress is worn and not on what is worn.
The authorities, however, say that it is the same circular that is given to the students every year when the classes for a new batch commence. According to them, the details regarding dress code in the campus is provided at the time of admission and that no complaints regarding the same have come up so far.
An important point that is being highlighted in order to impose the dress code is that it was already in place as per Medical Council of India (MIC). But MIC also specifies many other guidelines – primary responsibility of a physician is to take care of the patient without considering monetary gains, a doctor should behave with utmost sincerity and care towards patients, a doctor should never indulge in unethical practices and take money from pharmaceutical companies in order to promote their products and so on.
“There are the many important guidelines that MCI has fixed but are not implemented. The authorities should be keen to impose these rules rather than fixing a dress code. But unnecessary hype is being given to matters like what should be worn by the students in campuses,” Dr. Jinesh added
Dubbing artist Bhagyalakshmi, who is known for raising her voice for the rights of women has welcomed this decision. She is of the opinion that this decision has in no way curbed the personal rights of women.
“It is a right step that the officials have taken and I completely support this because a hospital is a place that requires a certain amount of discipline. Doctors need to be distinguished among patients and a dress code will definitely help in doing that. Moreover, dresses like jeans and leggings are carriers of bacteria as majority of people wash them only once or twice in two weeks. While dealing with patients it is very important that doctors wear neat clothes and avoid any chances of infection. Keeping in mind the psychology of girls, they would not like to wear the same saree the next day as they prefer wearing different colors and also because attires like saree become shabby after a single use. This will ensure that students wear neat dresses every day. In case of boys as well shirts get dirty easily when compared to T-shirts and thus they will definitely change them on a daily basis,” she says
However, the major argument put forward by people like Dr. Jinesh who are opposing the circular is that wrapping up the statement by saying that there are no complaints regarding the dress code is just an idea to avoid the actual problem and that this is only a baseless explanation by the authorities for not taking up responsibilities.
Mixed responses have been received from students and while a majority of them are opposing the circular, many are also in favor of the same. Vishnu Unnikrishnan, a final year medical student says that majority of the students come to the campuses in a neatly dressed manner and imposing any dress code is not required. He added that if neat and tidy attire is what authorities are aiming for then there should be a substitute for the white coat as well because they are also carriers of bacteria and none of the students wash them on daily basis.
“The officials should understand that the protest is not a chance that students are utilizing to hit hard on rules but it is a method by which they want the authorities to reconsider the rules and make necessary changes,” he added.
Main Photograph by Trinity Care Foundation via Flickr