Colonial Clubs
Mr Justice D Hariparanthaman of Madras High Court -a sitting Judge not being allowed entry in a Club in Chennai  recently made headlines. The reason was his attire- Dhoti ! Think of it- one month from now we are going to celebrate sixty seven years of independence. Next thing- they could turn you out if you spoke in Tamil. After all in a free country they are free to make their own rules.
This author wants to bring to light that the matter is not so simple. It is deeply rooted in our psyche. Colonial nostalgia for some still exists. We have created super citizens in our free country.
Dress Code
Almost all elite clubs have a dress code. Most rules hover around decency. Nothing wrong with that. It is sad that codes set by British rulers are still in vogue and traditional dress is prohibited. Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Club at Chepauk in Chennai which recently denied entry to Justice D Hariparanthaman need to review their rules. Similarly other Clubs need to do that.
M.F. Husain, accomplished painter  was asked to leave the premises of Royal Willingdon Sports Club, Mumbai  because he was barefoot. This was a bit ironic- this club was founded in 1918 by Lord Willingdon, the then Governor of Bombay because  Willingdon was refused permission to take an Indian Maharaja with him to the Bombay Gymkhana  which then allowed only Europeans. This prompted Willingdon  to start a club that both Indians and Europeans could go to. But why are we in free India carrying it still further ?
This author has overheard several people in these exalted clubs reminisce that only Sahibs (Britishers-read white skin) were once allowed to enter the premises. They forget- it was at whose cost !
The Clubs with British hangover donot allow Dhoti but allow scantily clothed men and women for fashion shows as well as allow bikini by the poolside ! It is time the Law makers declare such rules unconstitutional.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mrs J Jayalalithaa has threatened to enact law to force such rules to be abandoned. This is a welcome move. Other states must follow similarly.
Segregation in Clubs
Another issue which needs to be looked into is regarding inhuman treatment to human beings in these clubs.
Delhi Golf Club has defined a category- MDE (Member’s domestic employees- ayahs, drivers, attendants etc.). MDE’s are suppose to stay only in  areas demarcated for them. They are also not allowed to collect food from any of the counters.
Tollygunj Club (Kolkata) states -Members’ personal domestic staff are not permitted in any of  the venues or facilities of the club. An Attendant’s area has been earmarked near the Children’s Park. Members are advised to ensure that their maids and domestic staff  limit themselves to the area earmarked for them.
Subsidies !
These exalted institutions do not feel ashamed when it comes to manipulate the whole system to extract subsidies.
The Delhi Golf Club has an area of 220 acres. Market value of this land is estimated anywhere between Rupees 47000 crores and 60,000 crores. The Club house, including the course, is on government land. The lease for the land is periodically renewed by the government at a rate which has no relationship to the market value of the land. The current annual rent that the club pays to the government is just Rs 5.82 lakh per year. In 2012, eight years before the lease was due for renewal Mr Kamal Nath,  the Honourable Minister of Urban Development  approved extension of the lease till 2050. The DGC has about 4000 members, majority of whom are serving or retired members of the Indian Civil Services, judges, and politicians.
 The annual subsidy by the Government to every member of Delhi Golf Club is estimated to be approximately Rs 1.5 crores.
Thus we have the Dhoti clad taxpayer subsidizing Non-Dhoti clad.
 Breach Candy Club (Mumbai) requires a trustee to be a British Passport Holder ! One may say all this is legal.
Let us not forget Apartheid was also legal in South Africa for 46 years (1948 to 1994). It is time these things are debated upon in our country.
Next months crores of taxpayer’s money will be spent in Independence Day Celebrations. We also need to review these archaic rules.

More By  :  Navin Chandra Mishra

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Mr Justice D Hariparanthaman of Madras High Court -a sitting Judge not being allowed entry.. the club must be in trouble, that's on lighter note! BUT, biggest hypocrite in the world ain't we? Where do the helps park themselves during any social event.. certainly not being part of the event ! Why blame the clubs?? Dignity-of-labour need greater penetration in our phyche.. Till then there would be TWO India, and it's NOT Urban-Rural divide!!

Rakesh R Pandey
11-Apr-2018 22:26 PM

Comment Dear Navin I did not know the facts about Delhi Golf Club. It is an eye opener. There may be many more such things. These institutions must be converted into profit making ventures. The Indian rulers colonial way of living at the expense of poor tax payer must come to end. There can be no justification to wasting thousands of crores of rupees while common man still does not get basic amenities like water and electricity. The problem is whatever party comes into power their way of governing the country remains the same. There is a need to discuss ways so that such people reach parliament who are willing to and who can bring change.

Arun Sharma
19-Jul-2014 22:37 PM

Comment While I would agree that any process needs review and feedback to close the loop but at the same time, it is required that one should follow the law of the land. Any protest or denial can be expressed in various ways since we are in the Gandhian land, noone would better understand this. Having said that there is nothing wrong in wearing dhoti or swim-suit or anything else, it is situation, place, occassion makes attire right or wrong, decent or indecent. Questioning the 100 years old policy and procedures is absolutely right but at the same time as a cultured and civilized citizen, behaving in such a manner to reinforce his individualism is really undesirable.

Nimesh Sinha
19-Jul-2014 07:07 AM

Comment Dear Mr Ghanashyam, swimming costume by the poolside is definitely decent but so is the Dhoti. Firstly, the British rulers imposed their culture - they had all the advantages which a conqueror has. All this was well planned to create an aura of superiority over the subjects they ruled over. Secondly, the world is dynamic- we need to review the written rules from time to time. If reviews are not done, controversy / conflicts are bound to arise as the society's norms keep changing.

17-Jul-2014 20:58 PM

Comment Colonial Clubs,although a remnant of the British Raj,are still a neccessary attachments to a city life.A ban here and a ban there can turn into a controversy, but code does ensure a certain requirement for discipline and decency.Ladies in swimming attire,to be considered indecent,to score a point, may be absurd in today's world where they have to take part in sporting events with similar attire, more so for convenience than for showing of their bodies.There have been many occassions during my own career and visits to many a colonial club where I have seen the attire had a lot to do with indiscipline in the club and disrespect to other members.we are still far away in maintaining a disciplined culture especially where money becomes the authority.In that context club discipline and dress code is a great equaliser between rich and not so rich and it does not discriminate.In this case,where the club in chennai is in the news,would it have been decent if the gentle man with the lungi folded it at the knees it because he is feeling warm? a natural behaviour.

ghana shyam
17-Jul-2014 09:15 AM

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