Arguing in favour of the salwar-kameez, Chhaya Upadhyay, 38, wrote Wednesday that she has been campaigning against this “ghost law” for 13 years at the panchayat, taluka and district levels until it became official, forcing her to seek the CM’s intervention.
She has also said she will seek legal recourse for a permanent solution to the issue.
As reported by The Indian Express on August 28, appointment letters given to teaching assistants and primary teachers in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar on August 23 had a code of conduct annexed which said women teaching assistants have to wear sarees to work and their male counterparts could wear shirt-trouser or kurta-pyjama.
Modi had given these appointment letters among the 3,000 teaching assistants appointed across the state that day.
The code does not apply to Upadhyay herself as she was upgraded as a permanent teacher on a regular pay scale in January 2001 after being inducted as a teaching assistant in January 1999. But she says she continues to oppose it on behalf of her junior colleagues.
“This rule can be interpreted as: in one school the permanent teacher can wear a salwar-kameez but the vidyasahayak (teaching assistant) sister has to wear a saree,” Upadhyay has written.
Upadhyay recalls how for the first time on August 25, 2004, there was a written rule making sarees compulsory at the Bhileshwar primary school in Anand.
“My school at that time, which would have been named as an ideal school, got adverse remarks of ‘no teaching happening here’ in an official report only because two women teachers in that school had started wearing the Indian (Punjabi) dress,” she has said in her letter, which also has the August 28 Indian Express report attached.
“This issue is not personal. Which woman employee would not prefer the comfort and versatility of the salwar-kameez given its decency?” she has asked. She also claims that women were free to wear salwar-kameez in certain schools in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Saurashtra but not in Anand.
In another instance, Shaheenben Mansuri of Anand’s Umreth taluka, had in October 2011 requested district education authorities to allow her to wear salwar-kameez to work since she had performed Haj.
But her request was refused, with authorities citing a resolution passed by the Anand district education committee which said “for all male and female vidyasahayaks and primary teachers, dress code of saree for females, trouser-shirt and kurta-pyjama for male teachers”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Upadhyay said that she has been asked by local officials and school union members whether she does not wear a saree because she has “some physical-medical problem”.
She also said that education officials have been vague or refused to engage with her on the issue of the dress code.
Reached for comment, Anand’s district primary education officer N J Vyas said he did not know about Upadhyay’s complaint and her letter to Modi.