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Kurta-Pyjama To Make Way Into Indian Navy Messes

| Updated: February 14, 2024 14:55

In its process of Indianising colonial practices, Indian Navy may soon introduce kurta-pyjama in naval messes.

This is in line with the government’s directive to shed “vestiges of the colonial era” and “Indianise” military traditions and customs.

The Navy has issued orders to all its commands and establishments to allow officers and sailors to wear the “ethnic” attire of kurta-pyjamas, with sleeveless jackets and closed formal shoes or sandals, in officers’ messes and sailors’ institutes.

There are, however, strict guidelines about the colour, cut and shape of the kurta-pyjama, which can be worn when “the prescribed rig is informal (open collar) or casuals” in the messes, as per one order.

It must be a “solid tone” kurta, with the length just up to the knee, and cuffs at sleeves with buttons or cuff-links. Design of the “matching or contrast tone” narrow pyjama, in turn, must be “in line with trousers, with elastic waistband and side pockets”.

A “matching pocket square” can be used in the sleeveless and straight-cut waistcoat or jacket. There are similar instructions for women officers who want to wear “kurta-churidaar” or “kurta-palazzo”. “This new dress code is not applicable for warships or submarines,” an officer said.

The naval commanders’ conference, chaired by Admiral R Hari Kumar, had discussed the option of allowing kurta-pyjamas as “national civil dress” for officers and sailors.

Kurta-pyjamas for male personnel as well as guests have been so far strictly banned in Army, IAF and Navy messes. The Navy, however, has been in the forefront of proactively identifying and abolishing colonial era practices and symbols in line with PM Modi’s directive for “Gulami ki Mansikta Se Mukti (freedom from slavery mentality)” since 2022.

The Navy’s repeated reference to this phrase, however, has not gone down well with many veterans. “It is unnecessary and in poor taste to harp on so-called ghulami ki virasat (heritage of slavery) because it casts aspersions on the post-Independence generations of patriotic Indian Navy personnel who have served the Navy and nation, fought wars and shed blood,” former chief Admiral Arun Prakash (retd) had posted on `X’.
— arunp2810 (@arunp2810)

The Navy is now also in the process of “Indianising” the names of the ranks for sailors, while senior officers are already donning epaulettes highlighting the “heritage and legacy” of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The practice of officers carrying batons has also been stopped since it was considered a symbol of authority in the colonial era.

The Navy now also has a new President’s Standard and Colour as well as Crest after its new “swadeshi’ Ensign, which included the removal of the red-coloured St George’s Cross from the flag, was “unveiled” by the PM during the commissioning of indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in September 2022.

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