“Wonder how I survived for 4 years in this college!!”

This was not the kind of colleges my generation of Indian women went to.

What has changed? What has made teachers in some Indian colleges so disrespectful towards girl students?
This email is heartening because the email writer refused to see this as normal or  right.

“Dear IHM,

This was a notice posted in the girls hostel of my college.

Here’s what this notice says:

The girl students in the Hostels are advised not to use skin tight dresses, fancy costumes, jewels etc. They should be decently dressed in the campus and in the Hostels. They should not interact with the boy students after working hours, and if any girl student is found talking with boy students after working hours for unduly long hours  or if she is found in secluded spots talking to the boy students, she will be dealt with strictly and her parents will be informed about her behaviour.

After the first time, disciplinary action will be taken against her.

.

These people think they can/should dictate what a girl wears, whom she talks to and where and when. They know most parents would support them. I feel ashamed to be an alumnus of such an institution. But what I am ashamed of most is that I never revolted against any of this all because, “I didnt wanna risk my career”.
Oh by the way, this place is run by a *** trust. This sure looks like a place where they worship women, doesn’t it??

I’m going to share some of my worst experiences in this college. So this might be a long email. No, actually let me start from the beginning… School perhaps. That’s where the whole brainwashing started.

I come from a regular family with both parents working and are fairly liberal in their views. The most important thing was that both my parents believe in and practice gender equality. I never had “girl things” or my brother “guy things” to do. We just shared all the work and so did my parents. Naturally I assumed the rest of the world was the same and it took a long time for me to open my eyes.
Just when I was about to start high school we had to relocate to a new city and I chose to join a girls school (just because it had the biggest playground and the largest number of extra curricular activities). This is when things started to change and the “good girl” training began. This school was run by an old fashioned, narrow minded missionary institute. We were asked not to wear low cut blouses for ethnic days and not encourage boys from the neighboring boys school to talk to us and stuff. Also, certain alumni were not allowed to enter the school because they got pregnant while still in school. Somehow it did not occur to me (or the other girls) to question these. We just thought who cares about all these when you get to do whatever you like outside school and anyway the teachers know whats best for us.
Then I graduated and joined a junior college. It was one of those places where you stop eating/sleeping/playing for 2 yrs and just concentrate on getting a seat in a top engineering college. Now don’t ask me why I chose such a place. It was peer pressure perhaps to join the rat race. Again, we were not allowed to talk to boys and not wear jeans to college. But who cares about all that when you have your “life deciding” exams to prepare for?
Finally the day came when I had to choose my engineering college. I didn’t score well in my CETs and the only good college where I got an admission was this one. This place had a reputation of being strict and everything. But then again it has good faculty and placement record etc and I didn’t want my parents to buy me a seat anywhere. And of course those are more important right? In fact, things weren’t so bad in the beginning or so my good girl training told me. We had a dress code-girls in chudidars/long kurthis, guys in formal trousers and full sleeved shirts. We could only go out from 4:30-6:30 everyday and had to take a gate pass to go out during the weekends.I accepted all these without a second thought.
Then one day, my brother came to meet me and we stood talking at the entrance gate. The security guard started blowing his whistle asking us to leave. Both me and my brother got really pissed off and got down to a fight with the guard. He finally let us be. That was the first time I questioned the logic behind all those stupid rules. But I just pushed them to the back of my head. Then day by day the rules became stricter and stricter. We were forbidden to come out of our rooms (even to go to the next room) after 9. We were banned from sitting with guys in or around the canteen. We weren’t allowed to group study with guys even in the library. Dupatta became compulsory. We had to get a fax from our parents to stay out of the hostel over night. Shorts and capris were banned even in the hostel. Birthday celebrations were banned. I don’t know what the breaking point was exactly. Mobile phones were banned. The wardens had a right to just barge in when they please and read our personal SMSes and see the pics on our laptop and punish us for anything they found inappropriate.

But my friends and I decided enough is enough. We started rebelling against them in small ways. Our college is run by a trust. So, we wrote letters to her explaining the situation. We even met her and told her about our concerns. We raised a voice against things we didn’t think were correct. Result? We were labelled “bad girls” who have no respect for elders and Indian culture. We were shown as bad examples to new students. Finally they threatened to suspend/rusticate us if we refused to change. By this time we were in the 3rd year. Having already invested 2 yrs, we didnt want to risk spoiling our career and reluctantly gave in. Since it is a private institution they could formulate their own rules and suspend students to their liking. We did not have the right to form a student union. The security guards check out and scrutinize each girl’s clothing. In fact, when I went to collect my degree certificate I was denied admission to the college because I was in jeans. I sat down on the road and refused to move until I get my degree. They finally let me in.

 Mind you, my parents were always supportive and they never had a problem with my clothes or me being friends with guys or staying out overnight or anything. So one thing the college people couldn’t do was to threaten me saying “We will tell your parents that you roam around with guys all the time”. Sadly that was not the case with most girls. The reason they are able to do this to students is because most parents approve of such rules. In fact some parents admit their kids in this place because it is strict and so their kids wont get spoilt. Like I tried explaining through this very long email, children are brain washed from an early age and very subtly. So, we just accept things as they are and by the time we realize something is wrong, it is usually too late.
The girls never broke these rules because they couldn’t without facing strict disciplinary action. Going to college without a dupatta could result in the loss of an academic year.
The teachers wore sarees which was their dress code. The male teachers wore formal trousers and shirts.
A lot of students were in a relationship. Some ended in marriage, some didn’t for various reasons including disapproval by parents.
Some girls like me felt it was wrong. Others found it right and thought we were”modern” or “cheap” or “shameless” to want to wear jeans or be friends with guys or date. I am considered a shameless girl by many of my peers because most of my friends are guys and I am open about my relationships. They feel going for long trips or partying with the guys is a mortal sin. But you know what? I stopped giving a damn to them long back!!
Oh by the way, these “traditional” ones also did date guys but most secretively. Openly being in a relationship was considered slutty. Anything is fine as long as it is kept a secret. [IHM: That’s the mantra for Indian culture, I agree]
Sorry about the long rambling. But I get really emotional and angry when I think about college and it gets difficult to stop the flow of thoughts.”
And here’s another link, shared by Atheist Indian – another college in Guwahati is doing the same thing.
Related posts:

83 thoughts on ““Wonder how I survived for 4 years in this college!!”

  1. Well, That’s pretty much the story of all the Engineering colleges around. There is a college in Chennai, that’s famous for the same or worse kind of rules. They have unscrupulous men and women for moral policing and it’s pretty much a shit to study in such a college.

    Like

      • I am an engineering student studying in kerala..
        In my college it is not the college authorities officially imposing the dress code rule on girls but the students political party( with a single female dummy representative). !!! Unfortunately, political parties are more dangerous than college authorities when you stand against them. Authorities can suspend you for any reason but student politicians can literally do anything they want..
        Jeans is a taboo as per party norms and dupatta is a must..
        One day my friends decided to come in jeans, since it was not officially a working day- it was the cricket match final. One of the junior guys( of course, a party leader) asked them to quit the campus asap and when they refused he locked them up in that block. And the response we got on complaining was funny..
        Teachers summoned each student who had signed the complaint personally and advised them to refrain themselves from meddling with the politicians.. most of the girls had no support from their family and they backed out from the complaint. Then the complaint letter was scrutinised for every possible mistake and they told us that they could not take any action on it because no sexual harassment took place there!!!( no such word was used in the complaint and it was their own interpretation that a girl complaining against a boy is always sexual harassment and honestly i have no idea if that can be termed as sexual harassment or not). Initially we didn’t understand the logic of what they said.. later we saw some party fellows coming out of the staff room.. We had no option but to accept that our teachers were scared to take any action against them. And the complaint was buried as usual.
        p s: pls dont think that our college is located in some remote corner of kerala..but it is in the very capital itself😦

        Like

    • Guess what, I had the misfortune of being educated in that ‘in’famous college which was a ‘pioneer’ in all those stupid rules. And guess what, I never occurred to me to question any of those, because as I had been brought up, now is the age to study and nothing else matters. We had rules that said, no pocket money was allowed to students, no novels should be read, the sleeve of the churidhar should be just above your elbow, dupatta should be v shaped and pinned on both sides, no slits in churidhars were allowed, the height of it should be below the knee. Also we had everyday checks by ‘spies’ who would check our bags – we used to put sanitary napkins on the top of our bags to deter them from checking. Used to get punished if we did not go for lunch, punished if we came to the class 5 mins later, Absolutely forbidden to speak to guys in the class, and to male teachers outside the class. (Female and male teachers should not be seen talking to each other). No other transportation other than college bus was allowed, if you were late to catch your bus, then you had to take the day off. Worse still, you had to have a notebook for every subject, compulsorily take notes, cover the notebook with brown paper….No more than 2 students (of the same gender) could walk together in the corridors….And I could go on all day….Studying in that college made me socially stunted and I regret wasting and regressing my life by so many centuries by studying in this place…

      Like

  2. I can tell you ‘n’ such similar incident. It felt like reading parts from my own life.
    11th and 12th in Andhra Pradesh is referred to as junior college and is majorly run by two corporate giants. They do offer some quality “training” (not education) for the entrance exams. the classrooms are equipped with cctv cameras. Boys and girls sit in the same class but different rows and are not supposed to talk to each other, unless they are siblings, not even first cousins. A friend of mine (boy) was working out some problems from a book that I did not find in the market, so I asked him where he got it from and he replied. The people in the office saw this on the camera. We were called, separately. They heard both our versions, separately. Unfortunately, for them, it matched, so they couldn’t create a drama out of it. They sent us back to class with a warning, “You are here to study. Don’t let your mind go astray.”
    Yeah, like we were talking about going out for a candle-light dinner.

    My solution to this: I didn’t bother. Also, ’cause I had supporting parents who’d bash up them if something like this would be told to them.

    Two years later, engineering happened. From the options available, a girls college was what suited my requirements – placements, course, campus, proximity of the campus from home etc. Our college doesn’t have a fest because “boys” might come in. Even the naam-ke-vaasthe fest that we have isn’t great. Our annual day has a rule that probably no other college/school/office in the world would have – No boys above 3 years of age are allowed inside the campus. But the same college has professors(male) who misbehave with students, take advantage of their position and sometimes run away with students.

    My solution to this: I never bothered to go to any of the annual days.

    I won’t be surprised if we’ll start having separate sections for ladies and gents in offices as well and then the government will boast about how well the sthri jaathi has progressed.

    Like

      • Amit we never heard about such things, in fact we were made to sit one boy, one girl – so that we don’t talk too much – of course that didn’t work. We even played football and rugby with boys (though I was no good, it was good fun).

        Like

      • I remember our school authorities made boys and girls sit next to each other when were in 6th standard. We were allowed to talk but only in English. No vernacular. If we spoke in vernacular, we were fined Rs 1. Haha. I remember the father (who was very influential) of a girl studying in 7th standard stormed into the school and had a big fight with teachers as his daughter was made to sit next to a boy and the boy’s hand touched the girl’s hand. Ladki apavitra ho gayi. LOL. Result of the fuss: Boys and girls of 7th Standard were made to sit separately. And when we were in college a classmate was asking me about a question pertaining to physics as we travelled in bus. A man from my hometown saw this and came home one day to tell my father about this. My father’s reply: “I know that boy. His name is ABC. He is the son of MrXYZ. I know them and I also know that my daughter and the boy talk to each other and I am not bothered about it. Why are you worried so much? LOL LOL, the expression on that uncle’s face was worth seeing.

        Like

  3. This is a very disturbing story. I too studied in a professional college not long ago and lived in a hostel. In our campus the boys and girls hostel were close by and we did have rules like the girls needed to be back to hostel by 10 p.m

    What is most shocking is the way dress code has been dictated for girls and they are being stopped from dressing comfortably (read, according to their liking) even within the premises of the girls hostel. How could one study or grow (as a person & a professional) in such a suffocating environment?

    It all boils down to the use of “we’ll tell your parents about your indecent (according to the college officials) behavior” as a trump card to dictate terms of living to the students. If only more and more parents could be understanding in true sense (like the parents of the letter writer) no one can dare to force unnecessary rules/ blackmail them to do things against their will in name of moral values/ disciplining the youth.

    Every one in our society seems to posses the fundamental right to decide how they can protect our culture by being a moral police, making rules only for girls and letting men be guided by their animal instincts.

    Like

  4. I sometimes wonder if policies such as these, are one reason such folks are unable and unwilling to acknowledge the existence of bisexual and homosexual people. As long as you imagine the world to be 100% heterosexual, you can imagine you’re reducing the likelihood of sex occuring by insisting on minimal interaction between the genders. (I say “imagine” because it does not actually work: in the real world the average age of sexual debut in India is one year *younger* than in Norway, for example)

    But throw Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals into the mix, and it becomes obvious how foolish such restrictions are.

    It’s somewhat amusing to annoy these people by refering to them as homosexually-friendly. Afterall, the policy above says that only gays and lesbians may hang out with their partners after studies, heterosexuals are forbidden from doing the same.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe, but that does not pass the laugh-test. Clearly, in the real world, homosexual and bisexual Indians do exist. The gay-pride parades in more than 25 Indian cities last year had more than 20000 participants. It’s not a new thing either, this statue is more than 1000 years old: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Samesexloveindia.jpg

        They do not *like* it, but the thing about reality, is that it doesn’t go away even if you dislike it really hard.

        Let them make themselves a laughing-stock. Let them claim that homosexuals and bisexuals do not exist in India. I would think the huge majority of Indians are well aware that this is not true.

        Like

  5. Simple ‘if you do not want the guys and girls to mingle (healthy or unhealthy is none of the college’s business if these kids are majors) DO NOT RUN a Co-educational institute’…RUnning a corruptminded-educational institute in the name of co-ed in the 21st century! God, and I believe every word in this coz I know a few colleges that impose such absolutely STUPID rules!

    Like

    • I studied in a private college which is run by minority ..Now my dad isvery well known in the college. Unfortunately my dad is progressive and me ultra spoilt according to college people . just to give you idea of few things I did in college

      1. In first year of college , some teachers hired gundas to beat up guys from other community as they were trying to mingle with girls of our community.

      I invited all my friends from other community home for my birthday party . It was known to everyone next day . I heard some people saying ” when parents have let them lose what we can do ”

      2. we had to wear salwar kameez and then they decided to make it a uniform.

      I actually pushed their limits , deep necks , skin tight , transparent .. my dad has commented innumerable time jeans and T-shirt are way better than what you wear.Once I questioned college management why salwars ?? he said because dupata is a sikh symbol . I said so if i wear Dupatta and shorts will it be ok . I would have done that next day , had my dad not intervened and asked college authorities to be a mindful.

      3. Some senior guys were beating a junior because he had affair with someone else few years ago and they had sexual relations . I remember fighting with 10 guys and saving this junior and then I went to senior management to help curb religion based issues in college .

      4. we went to a trip and in chandigarh 3 girls lost our way . It was an issue they said we are out drinking and should be sent home right away.I fought with teacher that when they can allow guys to drink and stay out whole night , why partiality .I called home and spoke to dad in front of teacher , so they were clueless whom to complain about us.

      5.Because we did not have discos in our city , we use to organise dance parties at my home .Guys and girls use to come , bring in food ,dance , clean the mess and leave . Everyone in the college knew that .

      and yes we had a principal who once said ” Guys have fun during college time , but always remember study is your first goal. If you clear your exams and want to get married to your Gf/ bf after college , I will go and talk to your parents …just don’t let college people catch you making out behind some bushes .”

      Its easy to tell we love him🙂

      Like

  6. no wonder when many of the youngsters come out to the corporate world, they are so socially ill-equipped. We only have degree factories and that means we have largely ‘average’ performers, who’ve got their degree by dint of mugging up. In my career, I’ve come across harldy 3-4 ‘freshers’ who show a spark of originality. The rest are sheeple. Most are unable to develop healthy platonic relationships and are so pathetic when it comes to dealing with interpersonal conflicts.

    I had started a masters course as an adult in India and gave up – one for the lack of time, and secondly the teachers were rude, irrational and bizarrely judgemental. Many of the students were working full time like myself. The fact that we’ve taken up a masters part-time itself meant we were commited to higher education. We all held responsible positions at work, leading teams and executing complicated projects. We were all under tremendous pressure trying to balance a demanding work schedule, and personal academic ambitions. Yet, in the classroom, the teachers treates us like idiots with questionable intelligence, and behaved as if we were 5-year-olds. What’s more, even at a masters level, they all stuck to prescribed text books, previous years’ question papers and so on – without offering any PERSONAL insight into the subject. I did not want to waste any more money and I just quit.

    Now I am abroad, and I’ve started my masters again. I had to prequalify with a diploma. It took a while for me to get used to the respect I’m given as a mature learner. It took a while for me to get used to the assignments – which forced me to think, research, arrive at my own conclusions. My Indian education’s emphasis on ‘giving correct answer’ had to be dismantled in my mind. It took a while for me to get used to the fact that there is no such thing as ‘right and wrong answer’ (unless it is mathematics or a mathematical topic) – but just different opinions. As in, I had to get used to the fact that my head won’t be chopped off if I have an opinion that is different from that of my teacher’s. I had to unlearn my previous education rules, and learn to put forth my views and opinions, and defend them with a good backing, and elegantly change my stance if I find someone else’s contrary opinion holds more water. It is absolutely exhilarting to have a great relationship with a teacher where the latter is truly a mentor and guide, as against a dictator and a moral high priest.

    Like

    • I can completely relate to you! I came here to do my Masters and previously in my Bachelors, I was forced to respect teachers who knew zilch just because they were my teachers. I was labeled a ‘show off’ if I asked questions or gave suggestions. Here, I was treated like an adult. I respected my professors, not because they graded my papers or they were my professors, but because they mentored me. Nobody had to ‘demand’ respect, but they commanded respect from their students due to their knowledge and vast experience. It was such an exhilarating experience to study here and discuss topics with your professors. The true joy of learning!!

      Like

  7. I had same experience around 10 yr back when i was in my first yr graduation in a college in banagalore. I am from North India and celebrate Rakhi in a big way. My cousin i.e my aunt’s son came to tie rakhi, when i was putting rakhi, a security guard came a started asking what is our relation. He was not happy with the answer that he is my brother. You won’t believe he asked me that are you from same mothers? OMG i was shocked and i told no but he is my dad’s sisters son. Then came the shocker, he explained that then you two are not brother and sister. Infuture you two will get married to each other and this practice is very common down south. I was really shocked , i tried explaining that it doesn’t happen in our community and my brother had to leave the place without having the sweet. I had already tied the rakhi within that time. Till now we two remember that day and laugh..

    Like

    • The policies prohibit “interacting” and “talking” which are slightly different from having orgies.

      That being said, having orgies on campus is entirely acceptable as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult.

      Like

      • i dont think orgies on campus is acceptable, neither are smoking or consumption of alcohol.
        public places are governed by certain rules, just as you cant smoke in public place or hospital the same rules applies to schools.
        Regarding dresses, you cant go to college dressed in bikini, there certainly are requirement of decent dressing

        Like

        • It depends on the age-group and the type of campus, obviously. I was thinking of American-style Campuses where students live in dormitories on-campus, and thus where the campus is essentially their home for the duration of the school-year.

          Such campuses have private areas, for example the students own room. I see no reason to restrict what happens in these rooms beyond the limits set by law, and those needed to avoid undue disturbance for other close-by rooms. If a student does it in her own room, it’s not illegal, and it does not cause (for example) a lot of noise bothering the neighbours, then I think it’s fine.

          You may not be able to go to a lecture wearing a bikini, but you can wear nothing but your birthday-suit in your own room.

          Like

        • Who is taking about wearing a bikini to college? We are talking about dresses that completely cover up the body. I will bet anywhere that you get to see less skin on a jeans and tshirt than you will see while wearing sari
          Its all about personal comfort. I just can’t handle a dupatta and it’s not my fault. I’m not used to it that’s all.
          It’s never wrong to stick to your culture but now that we are so many years into the future isn’t it high time we started thinking logically.

          Just because i talked to a boy does not mean that I’m in a romantic relationship with him. I do what i feel is morally right to myself. That way nobody can judge you.

          Like

      • 99% of men can tell if a women is a prostitute or not, no men dont have sixth sense they tell it by observing their dressing. Same way the intention of a women can be guaged through her dressing and overall behavior.
        And people wearning decent clothes and not having orgies are totally un related. people certainly can have orgies irrespective of their dressing

        Like

        • maya, very sorry, cannot agree with you. as a woman who lives among abaya-clad ladies, i know of prostitutes who wear the abaya, and still get pickups while walking along the mall..

          I never wear the abaya, but i have never been propositioned.. I wear revealing clothes (according to the society i live in..), but the men here know how and why to act.. conversely, even if i wear a purdah and walk – in certain places in india-, i promise you men will de-skin me with their eyes.. can you tell me it is not their upbringing? if they were brought up talking and walking with girls , would you look at women like a piece of meat?

          Like

    • There is a simple solution to the complex and frightening problem of campus orgies.

      Lets divide the country into two halves, the men can have the north and the women can have the slightly more egalitarian south.

      Trespassers shall be severely punished and the Border Security Force will patrol the borders and punish any intruders, undocumented “aliens”.

      Marriage and hetero-sex will be illegal/unconstitutional and same-sex partnerships will be tax exempted and given free healthcare/housing.

      Gender segregation will be strictly enforced. For reproductive purposes we have IVF, so there’s no need for heteronormative sex either.

      There, problem solved.

      Like

      • Your solution is good, but does not solve the problem of lesbian and/or gay orgies occuring uncontrollably at campuses. (and possibly elsewhere!)

        I have an alternative proposal.

        Let each person who is in favour of restricting consenting “interactions” between adult human beings be placed in a plastic-bubble of sufficient diameter to hold their entire body. Those who are able to endure photons which have previously bounced off the naked skin of a human being of the opposite sex, may have a transparent bubble, those who cannot gets a bubble of black plastic.

        By rolling, they should be able to move around at will. They can remove the bubble once safely inside their own private locked room, blacken the windows on the room for those unable to handle the aforementioned photons.

        Like

    • Maya. You need some direction in your thoughts. You are like the Big Bang that started the universe – All the particles in your brain are running in random directions.
      What is wrong with wearing clothes of your choice? And talking to a boy is not the same as having an orgy with him. I am sure you know that you cannot produce babies by touching a boy, don’t you?

      Like

    • LOL! The issue being discussed here is certainly far far away from having orgies on campus! I never cared about not being able to talk to boys. Did not have any issues with dressing up decently. But, I had issues with being treated like cattle and not like a human being. Being watched all the time. Being labeled if I spoke to a boy. Expected to not ask questions and follow the herd. This is not the end of the list of ‘things not to do’. Frankly, at the end of the day, these things add up and just drain you of all the energy and enthusiasm towards what we really are there for, which is to learn!

      Like

  8. Has anybody heard of the plight of Chennai engineering colleges? Girls cannot talk to boys – ever. If caught even passing a book, they get fined. Some colleges even have segregation in the buses – a rope running along the centre.

    I studied in one of the ‘better’ colleges where one did not get punished for talking to the guys but your lecturer could start hating you after that and be unfair in the internals. And we had a dress code. Leave alone western clothes, we were told to ‘spread’ our dupatta and pin it on both sides. Goes without saying, no short kurtas, no sleeveless and ofcourse jeans was considered evil. My lectures actually told us when you start working jeans will not be allowed so we are preparing you for that (and i never had a dress code when i started working).

    Sadly, thanks to all this, lot of my colleagues from other states say that “Chennai guys are so cheap. they stare so much at girls, its so desperate”. Well ofcourse, they have never seen a girl in western clothes before and its like living their early teens when they start working!

    Its been 8 years since we finished college but I wonder so often, why we took it, why none of us ever bothered complaining..

    Actually me and a friend have been thinking about going to all these Chennai engineering colleges with statistical data on clothes and harassment ,clothes and achievers etc and show it to the directors and principals and persuade them to remove the dress code.

    Like

    • I too studied in a Chennai college…of course, it was 13 years back. At that time, there were no overt restrictions in interactions between guys and girls in my college…I used to go for night time after-dinner walks with my hostel friends within the college campus. The area used to be littered with couples…the management wasn’t too thrilled about it…but they didn’t try any extreme measures like banning interactions etc. I don’t think there was a separate explicit dress code for women either…maybe there was…being a guy, I’d have had no clue. Of course, I’m not saying all colleges were the same…maybe my college was an exception…or maybe I was the one who was clueless at that time…

      Like

  9. You know, there is a term for this, its called “Frozen Values”. I don’t believe that it is a Talibinization of the country (though in effect, it probably is). It is, in my opinion, the same situation that Indian emigrants to UK, US and other countries frequently find themselves in. Coming from a small town or village, basically a very conservative society, they find their values suddenly threatened by a foreign environment. Because of this threat, they effectively ‘freeze’ their values and refuse to change. They want to pass on the same values to their children (because those are the values that they believe are moral…) and they do so much more zealously that they would have under other circumstances. In many cases, these values are not just frozen, they are also exaggerated to such an extent that it turns extreme, fanatical even.

    This is just what is happening in India today. In the last twenty years, the urban culture of India has had a complete turnover. Things that might not have been acceptable suddenly turned acceptable. I believe this happened because the Indian economy opened up to the world. Cable TV became much more affordable. And then came internet in the mid nineties, and it definitely wasn’t out of budget for quite a lot of middle class families. Values changed. Morals changed. And that is a great thing. But unfortunately, it happened to fast for the rest of the society to adjust to it. And they started rebelling against it. They started imposing their values on the rest of the society. That’s what colleges and universities like these are doing. That’s what Khap Panchayats are doing. They are freezing and exaggerating existing values and imposing them on the rest of the society.

    I’m not trying to justify what they are doing. What they are doing is compromising a person’s personal freedom and that is in no way acceptable! I’m just trying to understand and make sense of the whole situation, because that’s the only way we can do anything about it, by understanding why its happening.

    @keerthanasethu I think you should go ahead and show statistical data to directors and principles of such colleges. The least we can do is try, right?

    Like

    • great idea there, internet being affordable was one of the major turning points in indian social history… so the best thing to do? get the internet freely available to all the lower sections of the society. so the children of the dogmatists can also see a free world out there.

      Like

  10. many decades ago i attended a co-ed college in india, where boys and girls mingled, of course there were couples behind bushes but so what??? we discussed, debated, teased and studied. shared crappy hostel food, although girls and boys had a diff hostel and mess on sunday we had common lunch – biryani with chips ( woohooo) and gulab jamun.. and we traded like our life depended on it,
    I don’t recollect a single orgy, we had rules, girls had to come in by midnight if at the library or if we went outside we had to bein by 11pm. our warden was a sweet lady who shared stories of our seniors antics and who knew every crazy hormonal thng we would try, she warned us yet never policed us …
    I can’t imagine if this was india 25+ yrs ago, why havn’t we grown , why have we regressed? why do parents and people in general feel the need to police our culture, what are they scared of? ofcourse in colleges kids are in their late teens, hormonal and eager to experiment, but from what i see of my son’s friends ( all 1st yr college) both girls and boys they are to a certain extent more aware of themselves an dtheir surroundings and although they do attempt risky behavior they are much more careful and more realistic than our generation. Sadly we are regressing.. it is upto us to make sure out kids don’t suffer in such colleges but for that we have to get away from engg or medicine herd mentality, or else we stand to loose all our youngsters to other countries with more freedom. after all happiness is the most important thing in life.

    Like

  11. Kudos to the email writer for taking a heartening stand on this issue. the crux of the matter is it is mostly the girls who get the rotten deal. to hell with such double standard diktats. sadly many parents find the system to be just right for nurturing a pure soul. I don’t understand how wearing a dupatta or a long sleeved kurta or not talking to the boys further the college’s endeavor to churn out enlightened beings.

    Like

  12. Colleges today could get away with this form of Talibanism because parents let them do it. Ever since the Delhi MMS incident, it has become a regular annual feature for news magazines to published ‘surveys’ on the supposed orgies happening among school kids. Parents have been on a moral panic ever since and so, happily welcome such moves made my college authorities against such ‘corruption of their innocent and virtuous ladlas and ladlis’.
     
    Based on my own school experience at a ‘posh’ South Delhi ‘international’ school at about the same time the DPS MMS happened, I could tell such surveys were all made up (including the stats where they claim Indians start having sex earlier than the Norwegians). My experience in an ‘international school’ in South Delhi proved otherwise.
     
    In spite of the ‘stories’ of Delhi guys and girls frequenting pubs and engaging in ‘risky sexual behaviour’, most of the guys and girls in my 11th and 12th standard class were both alcohol and sex virgins. They were so shy and socially awkward, at times it felt like being back in class 6 at my Shillong school.

    Like

  13. I thought my college was bad, but after reading this email I guess things were actually not as bad as they could be in my institution! I guess the most charitable thing I could say about my college is that all though they had umpteen rules for girls (and none for the boys, btw) all rules were breakable, reasonably easily, and without serious consequences.
    The staff were not ‘against’ relationships, but preferred us to be discreet (understandably). Many faculty member were couples who were also alumni.
    There was a dress code for girls- salwar/kameez- but there was also one for boys- a formal shirt/trousers- I didn’t mind it because we were in a hospital daily, and wore aprons.

    I was resentful that the rules existed in the first place. And also for the silly punishments doled out- like being made to wait outside the gate if you were a little late-which only served to make us more brazen I think.

    All in all, having a sibling simultaneously study in the UK probably added to my angst. I have fond memories of college and I don’t regret that I didn’t abide by (sexist and unfair) rules.

    Like

  14. …contd
    Things changed after the DPS MMS incident, which led our principal, a very sansakaar-ed lady to have seperate lunch breaks for guys and girls. The uniform for girls went from a skirt (which looked more like a petticoat, because of the previous ‘rules) to long trousers. No more shorts for gym or pool sessions (which were cancelled altogether). In addition to the seating self-segration that guys and girls already practiced before this ‘period of moral crisis’, our principal also passed strong diktats against finding boys and girls talking to each other in educational class trips.
     
    If such things could pass in a metropolitan city, one can only wonder about the rest. But fortunately, my days in Presidency College Kolkata was like a breath of fresh air. The Kolkata Bengalis, inspite of the stereotypes I held earlier, were far more liberal and tolerant about the mixing of genders. Even our professors were more casual than all those ‘sanskaari’ teachers at the Delhi school.
     
    Unfortunately, in the last 5 years or so, the Assamese society which actually has a festival dedicated to female sexuality, is starting to absorb mainland Indian cultural taboos. In 2006, while I was taking my (ex) girlfriend on a trip to my homeland, I took a break in Guwahati and booked a hotel for a few hours, before we proceeded. Now, 6 years later, you can’t even book two rooms in the same hotel if you travel with your half sister, because your ID cards have different mothers’ names. I guess the Assamese society has gone so repressed in the last 5 years that incest has become commonplace.

    Like

  15. Not sure if the writer studied in a college in Chennai, but I can completely relate to her! I studied 5 years ago in such a rotten place and was branded a ‘bad girl’ since I chose to question the teachers and refused to listen to all the crap that was loaded on us. Even at the colleges where they don’t restrict boys and girls from interacting, you don’t really have the full freedom to talk to the opposite gender. You are invariably taunted by the teachers, put down in front of your peers and you can be completely assured that you will face lot of problems the entire time that you are there. Sadly, it is the girls who end up getting the short end of the stick. Even at such colleges, it is OK for a guy to talk to girls, they brush it aside as ‘boys will be boys’, but if a girl were to do the same, she will be labeled as someone with loose morals. I deeply regret the 4 years that I spent there and even today when I hear something about my college, so many emotions (not the good ones) come rushing through.
    Your college years are supposed to be the most cherished part of your life and I somehow feel extremely cheated. I can’t think of a better way to describe how I feel. When you come from such colleges to do your Masters at the US, it feels like such a big breath of fresh air. My growth was extremely stunted due to the lack of any exposure in my previous college and I had to work extremely hard to make up for everything.
    I just do not get what they aim to achieve by imposing such rules on students, do they actually believe that such rules are going to help the students to study better? At least, that’s what they tell the parents AND the students. The sad part is that these colleges are able to get away with such ridiculousness, because they have the full support of parents….

    Like

    • But you know what the worst part is? As this email writer herself pointed out, the students don’t rebel against it! They stay quiet because they don’t want to mess up their future. Once the students decide that enough is enough, you can’t treat us in such an unconstitutional manner anymore, things will have to change. But that can only happen if students stand up for themselves, not otherwise.

      Like

  16. I am truly amazed. Isn’t India a secular democracy and not a religious theocracy. These kinds of notices, though present, even generate outrage in Pakistan, which is not even a secular country.

    Like

  17. I stayed at a college in India for an extended period of time, and while there, there were some people from a college in South India who told such horror stories. But even at the college I stayed at, which apparently had started out with very progressive intentions, and whose faculty members were all very cool and liberal(you could see female faculty members biking around campus in three-quarter pants), they had been compelled to impose a curfew(for both males and females) by complaining parents! And of course, the males “worked it out” with the hostel wardens and stayed out late doing what they pleased, while the girls had to go home. I squatted on one side of my hostel gate and talked to my male friend on the other side well into the night. The warden was really just amused. The point that I am trying to make is…there are so many facets to these problems that sometimes even goodwill from the institution isn’t enough.
    And of course, never more grateful for my American morally bankrupt and corrupt college than when I am faced with such stories.😛

    Like

  18. Ok, now that I have read rest of the email, I must say I haven’t heard of such a thing before. Seems like the college is situated in some Taliban stronghold.

    Like

  19. I wonder if part of this is to ensure that some women are allowed to study at all. For many parents I think these types of restrictions make them more comfortable sending their daughters away from home to study. Not that that is a good thing, but perhaps an added layer to the issue.

    Like

  20. Sadly this kind of bullying on the part of those in authority is not limited to colleges alone. When I joined an IT company, just out of Engineering college, I thought I was free, single, living alone in a new city and in charge of my own life. Funnily enough, this company thought it was their business to grill me and my then boyfriend, whom I had happened to meet at work, for having the temerity to have a relationship. I remember being asked in a not very nice tone of voice, by my boss if my parents knew “what I was upto”, and also the gob smacked look on his face when I told him it was none of their business, and that the company could try telling my parents if they wanted to get a lecture on minding their own business! BUT My then BF , when grilled by them was scared that he’d lose his job and his “respect” as a “good” guy because he was OPENLY having an “affair” with a “girl” who refused to make a secret out of it .Thankfully , I left that company and the guy behind a long time back, and have managed to live a largely content life mostly un-suffocated by so-called Indian morality and traditions.

    Like

    • Not just colleagues, employers, teachers, neighbors and random stranger, but if the likes of C Manjula are to be believed, it seem random strangers and even hooligans, violent thugs and literally anybody is allowed to teach bad girls (and often even young boys) a lesson in India😦

      Like

  21. Here’s the scenario, I did Mechanical Engineering sometime back in one of the top notch colleges, We had 2 other girls in my class and 57 boys. I would definitely get bored talking to the same set of girls over and over again. What would the college authorities do in this case? If we were supposed to exchange notes, we would definitely exchange with other boys. When we get paired up in the lab, i remember i had only a boy as a pair from far far days i remember. Will the college brand me as a one with loose morale too? Mind you, mechanics and EEE branches have a lot of hydraulic engineering stuff which requires us to come in Khakhi uniforms, what happens to such dress codes, Electronics means shoes, i definitely wouldn’t wear leather shoes and a salwar kameez and walk in to the college. How do they tackle all these kind of problems? Salwar kameez with pinned dupatta and Black leather shoes reminds me of the most ugly possible combination for a college going young girl.

    Like

      • he he , yes IHM …i remember being told , abhi se itna makeup karti hai shadi ke baad kya karegi by well meaning aunts . I used to tell them , I will not marry for wrong reasons …ofcourse no one understood what i meant.

        Like

  22. I remember an old Readers Digest joke.

    A puritanical priest in a church in a village was bitterly against a new co-educational school run by a rival church.

    He tried to dissuade his simple conservative village folk from admitting their children to this new school.

    Taking advantage of the fact that his listeners did not know too many big words, and bound by the necessity to be truthful, he fulminated from the pulpit one Sunday morning.

    “Do you know that boys and girls in this school are made to SHARE the same CURRICULUM?”
    “They even “MATRICULATE” together!!

    Regards
    GV

    Like

  23. I studied in a good school.
    The school was like a “boarding.” We had a colony where are homes where, and in that colony was our school. Till I was in 10th, I wasn’t allowed to go out of the colony without my parents. We went maybe 10 times in a year. So, I had no idea what life in India was like. We had clean roads, NOBODY ever stared at girls, no street harassment, girls played sports, most of the girls where feminists. And even now, almost all the people I know who have graduated from my school or the branches of our school in other cities are generally better people.
    We had no rules about any of this stuff. We talked to guys, people had relationships and teachers knew about them. I mean, nobody had sex, we weren’t allowed to get physical. At least I have never heard of it ever happening. It was a close knit place- everybody knew everybody. People kept to themselves. I could go out walking at night without trouble.

    It is when I moved to college that I realised how horrible things are in India. Girls didn’t talk to guys. If you talked to a guy, they assumed you were showing “interest” in them and you were now his “girlfriend”. If you weren’t his girlfriend, you were a “bad” girl.

    The college authorities here are awesome though. It is the students who are weird.

    The first year was really difficult for me. I couldn’t relate to anybody. All the girls were crazy. I kept being told I couldn’t do this, or that or I would be labelled as being “lose”. During club activities, I wasn’t supposed to put down my real number because I was a girl. When they took you in the club, you were only there for your “pretty” face. I have personally seen them ignore girls who were less “fair” and so in their eyes, less “beautiful”.
    I was told that I shouldn’t apologise if I accidentally collided with a guy. I shouldn’t talk to a guy or respond to anyone’s message or smile back if somebody smiles at me. Or they would assume I was “with” them and they wouldn’t leave me alone. Basically, I wasn’t allowed to be polite to men.

    I have unfortunately adjusted and I am now actually impolite to guys. I don’t say thanks if they help me, I demand that they help me if I need help and then leave immediately, I avoid sitting on a bench if there is a male sitting there, even if I am really tired, I stare at the ground whenever I am walking..

    But you know, the most disturbing thing is the mixed signals we received. On the one hand, we were supposed to dress smartly. Wear bright clothes, look presentable and pretty because we were a “modern” college which respected girls. No dress codes. We were also supposed to be able to talk to guys. Excuses like- I am a girl, and I need to get home early, so I can’t attend this class were not allowed.

    On the other hand, we had these unwritten rules that I just didn’t understand. I never had this nonsense in school. i didn’t even know this stuff happened. How was I supposed to know that when I had a 5 minute conversation with a classmate, he was telling everybody that I was his girlfriend. Again, how was I supposed to know that HIM lying about it was MY fault and I should change the way I behave because of it? In my school, people would have asked me if we were together, and then ignored the issue! What is the big deal if he said we were together? What if he thinks I am “easy”? How is it my problem?
    It was a small misunderstand and it can be resolved!

    The teachers were awesome.. The college was awesome. The students did these things. Actually, things improved for them. By the time we got into 3rd year, people were talking to the other gender. But by now i had become so used to keeping my space, I am just uncomfortable around men now. i don’t trust men any more. I am rude to them all the time.

    The thing is that I have had bad experiences when I talk to these men. They really irritate you and act like you “owe” them “respect”. Little things like they can ridicule me for my dumbness but I can’t do that. They can “scold” me with “affection” because they “care” about me. They start asking questions, calling you all the time and stuff like that. It is very difficult to get rid of them.
    I don’t understand why people do this here.

    Like

  24. Pingback: “Why didn’t these women find life partners by dating?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  25. Pingback: Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  26. Pingback: An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  27. Pingback: Why did Sharad Yadav say, ‘Who amongst us has not followed girls?’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  28. Pingback: Everybody knows what women should do to not ‘get molested’ in India. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  29. Hi,
    What you/everybody who bitches about a private college fails to understand is that they CAN make whatever rules they wish. It’s just like a company. The owner decides what to do with the employees, how much to pay them, their working hours, their dress code. It’s the owner’s company, not yours and you have to do whatever the owner tells you to do as long as it isn’t illegal. What is yours is everything OUTSIDE the company, where you’re free to do whatever you want. You like the outside better? You leave the company. In your case, leave the college.

    Checking your SMS/laptop content, however, can be contested. Why? Because it’s illegal to do that. Everything else, the dress code, when to talk to boys, the in-timings… none of that is wrong by law. And thus to call their rules “wrong” is ridiculous. Their rules are their opinions Your reaction is your opinion. Opinions are never wrong.

    Like

  30. Pingback: “One of the so-called best professor of my department … advices his students (girls) that men can be satisfied only by two things…” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  31. Pingback: ‘Male students do not need parental approval and come back late…’ Who benefits from such discriminatory rules? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  32. Pingback: Punjabi University locks girls in hostels to prevent ‘nuisance’ on Holi | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  33. Pingback: “According to my mom, friendship with guys should always be limited to academics, nothing personal.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  34. Pingback: Inter sex mingling in coed schools – permitted or not? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  35. Pingback: Are schools right in enforcing such strict boundaries between interactions between girl and boy students? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s