Bhubaneswar, June 5: After schoolteachers, now it is the turn of agriculture department officials to don uniforms.
They will sport green check shirts in tune with the nature. Officials at all levels, from the principal secretary to the field staff members, will follow the dress code.
New agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy told The Telegraph: “I have started wearing the (green check) shirt. It will be implemented at the field-level shortly. The decision has been communicated to officials. We are trying to send a message to the people that the department wants to make Odisha green. This colour sends a positive message.”
While officials will have to wear green check shirts, they are free to wear trousers of any colour. But, field officials of the department, mostly working at the grassroots level (panchayats) will have to wear half pants (shorts) during their field visits.
“They have to wear half pants or how else they will visit fields to know and understand the problems of farmers?” said the minister, who is known for his passion for farming.
Maharathy, 59, an agriculturist and a jatra troupe owner, owns a farm at Pipili, his native village known for its fine applique works. The six-time MLA of Pipili, who takes time off from his busy schedule to spend a few hours in his farm, also intends to introduce a dress code for his ministerial staff members.
This is the third department in the state government to introduce dress code for its employees after the school and mass education and higher education departments. While both the departments have introduced dress code for teachers of primary and high schools, they are yet to have such a code for their departmental staff members.
Primary schoolteachers wear black pants and sky blue shirts and their woman counterparts don pink saris and black blouses. High schoolteachers are wearing beige colour saris with a maroon border and a matching maroon blouse. Their male counterparts wear black trousers and white shirts.
Now babus of the state culture and tourism departments, too, wear hand-woven fabrics every Friday in a bid to give fillip to the struggling handloom sector in the state. Arvind Padhee as revenue divisional commissioner (central) had introduced the move. Now, Padhee is heading the tourism and culture department. “Wherever Arvind Padhee goes, he insists on officials to wear hand-woven fabrics,” said a senior official.
However, the issue of dress code for employees has triggered a debate in the state. While the officials said it would allow them to identify with a cause, sociologists have a different take on the issue. Eminent sociologist Rita Ray said: “In the name of giving an identity, the authorities introduce uniform dress code. But it is nothing but a sign of unbridled power.”
Ray said one would accept dress codes for students at the primary level but not for government employees. “In a free society, dress code is not acceptable,” she said.