Saffron vs Hijab in Karnataka

Saffron vs Hijab in Karnataka

Saffron vs Hijab in Karnataka- Today Current Affairs

CONTEXT : In the face of the demand by some young Muslim girls that they be allowed to wear a hijab to college that was countered by supporters of Hindutva outfits wearing saffron outfits. (in the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of southern coastal Karnataka and other parts)

HIGH COURT ORDER :The High Court of Karnataka, in an interim order, has also made it clear that “all students, regardless of their religion or faith, have been restrained from wearing saffron shawls (bhagwa), scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like within classrooms until further orders” with regard to petitions “pending consideration” on the issue of the right to wear a hijab in classrooms. 

Today Current Affairs


  • This order has also been confined to institutions where a student dress code/uniform has been prescribed. 
  • The police have held flag marches in some cities and towns that could witness a communal flare-up as a result of opposing stances.

Social reach, consolidation 

Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of southern coastal Karnataka →

In the grip of the Sangh Parivar (through institutional interventions and initiatives aimed at consolidating the Hindu identity)

As per 2011 Census – The Hindu Analysis

The Muslim minority is about 20% of the population in these two districts –

  •  25% in Dakshina Kannada alone
  •  >>13% in the State as a whole 

Though most of them were-

  • Petty traders
  •  Merchants 
  •  Informal labour
  •  Large-scale migration to West Asia right from the early years of the oil boom. 

Impressive rise in terms of enterprise and initiative in the community across various domains  in recent years, such as –

  • Health
  •  Education
  •  Housing
  •  Merchandise
  •  literary and cultural production

 The above explained expansive social reach has gone along with religious consolidation.

Following the ascendance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the region, makes such a craving all the more important.  Today Current Affairs.

Significant advances in this region in the last few years :

The rise of new institutions, like – 

  • The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI)
  • The student organisation
  • The Campus Front of India closely associated with the radical group
  • The Popular Front of India

Centrality of caste  as the principal anchor of electoral politics

Living/social conditions of Muslims in the rest of Karnataka = those who are socially lowest.

Its attempt to subordinate the Lingayats to the Hindutva project has not made much headway as Several Lingayat believes that they are a separate religion.

With limited impact, the Sangh Parivar has campaigned against –

  • love jihad 
  • cow slaughter 

The hijab issue offers one of the best opportunities to polarise Muslims against Hindus

Christians, mainly Roman Catholics —the other religious minority in southern coastal Karnataka — who form about 8.5% of the population have also been targeted by Hindutva outfits —

  •  by renaming public places
  •  attacking minor shrines
  •  conducting assaults on fringe Christian gatherings

The Karnataka anti-conversion Bill / the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill — introduced recently but yet to be passed into law in the State, is clearly directed against churches

Different connotations of hijab- The Hindu Analysis

  • For a lot of young Muslim women in coastal Karnataka and probably a stratum elsewhere in Karnataka, particularly drawn from lower social rungs, the hijab is not an archaic and patriarchal imposition, but a choice through which they wish to make their presence in the world and define themselves.
  •  Access to education is deeply bound with this search for self-definition. In such a mode of striving, forbidding wearing of the hijab is not a progressive measure — as some good old people think it to be — but an assault on their self-worth and dignity. 
  • Binding them to the prescriptive dress code subjects them to a uniformity that not only submerges their difference but also reinforces prevailing political dominance. 
  • It is not necessary to reiterate the bearing such a code has on freedom of choice and sustaining its context. 
  • The hijab may have other connotations for elders of the community that one belongs to, and may be integral to one’s own religious convictions, but they are largely supportive planks.

Today Current Affairs

A distinction between the burqa and the hijab – The Hindu Analysis

  • The burqa is strongly associated with religious codes.
  •  Most young Muslim students in the coastal region in Karnataka may wear the burqa outside educational institutions, but they keep it aside once they are on their premises, but would continue to wear the hijab.
  •  At times they may even remove the burqa in the classroom depending on the comfort level and fellow feeling they sense in the classroom. 

TO CONCLUDE : In a deeply diverse society such as India – the only way we can build our common futures is by inviting those who feel different into a conversation and continually forge the common through it.


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