Tripura’s ruling BJP-IPFT government has issued a memorandum advising bureaucrats to avoid jeans, denim wear, and sunglasses while on official duty. The order has come in for severe criticism from opposition parties CPM and Congress, who say it reflects the “feudal mentality” of the government.
A memorandum issued by Principal Secretary Sushil Kumar said he had advised “some individuals” during his last tenure as principal secretary to give “due regard” to dress code in state-level official meetings. Kumar is Principal Secretary for revenue, education and information, and cultural affairs.
“District Magistrates, ADMs being the district head need to ensure that in/at the state level official meeting which are chaired by the Honorable Chief Minister, Deputy CM, Ministers, Chief Secretary etc. or other high-level official meetings due regards needs to be given to the dress code,” the memorandum said.
The memorandum, which was issued on August 20, went on to detail the “dress code” saying, “certain casual attire like jeans and cargos pants should be avoided”. Kumar claimed in the memorandum that he has three decades of experience of working in the Indian government and was yet to see an officer from the IAS or central services come to office wearing casual attire.
The memorandum also noted that some officials read and send messages on their mobile phones during meetings, which is a mark of “disrespect”.
Referring to former chief minister Manik Sarkar’s advice to officers to keep their hands off their pockets, the official reiterated the statement and advised District Magistrates to ensure that they and members of their teams show due decorum, and adhered to proper “code of conduct”, while attending official functions or meetings.
In a terse warning, the Principal Secretary mentioned the case of an official from Madhya Pradesh who had received the Chief Minister wearing sunglasses. Kumar said the official was duly chastised later.
Sanjay Mishra, Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, said he was unaware of any such memorandum being issued.
“I am not aware of such instructions. I shall look into it”, he said.
Tripura Pradesh Congress vice president, Tapas Dey, said the order reflected “feudal mindset” of the state’s ruling BJP-IPFT government.
“This is a feudal mindset. Government is ignoring basic problems but turning non-issues into an issue with a design to divert the attention of the people from their failure on all fronts”, Dey said.
CPM spokesperson Goutam Das criticised the memo and said it was reminiscent of colonial rule under the British.
“We are a democratic country. This is not a colonial regime anymore. How can they give orders on what to wear and what to avoid in the name of dress codes? This is most condemnable”, Das said.