Venkaiah Naidu to review design of RS marshals’ new uniforms

Move comes after the staunch criticism of the military-style outfits by army veterans

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After a veritable verbal dressing down from ex-Army officers and remarks by Opposition leaders, Rajya Sabha (RS) Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday ordered a review of the new military-style uniform worn by marshals in the House on the first day of the Winter Session of Parliament.

“The secretariat of Rajya Sabha after considering the various suggestions have come out with new dress code for marshals. But we have received some observations from some political as well as some well-meaning people. So I have decided to ask the secretariat to revisit the same,” Naidu said.

Dressing up or dressing down?

The marshals, who customarily flank the RS presiding officer and assist in organizing the desk and bringing up order papers, have till now worn traditional Indian attire paired with a turban. But on Monday, this uniform was replaced with a military-style outfit, replete with the peak-cap sporting an aiguillette and an ornamental braided cord with decorated metal tips worn only by senior military officers and the Indian police service. Not just that, the marshals also sported shoulder epaulets with stripes and a ‘Lanyard’ (a symbol for rank, expertise or training level) across the shoulder loop like those used by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy to denote ranks of officers.

The marshals earlier used to wear safari suits during summer and Indian bandhgalas paired with turbans during winter. They are also said to don white uniforms, resembling those of Navy officers, during Parliament sessions in the summer season.

This led to some members of the house asking if “martial law was being imposed”.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh commented that there had been ‘a very significant change’ in their attire to which Naidu had replied, “Okay. You always make significant points at an insignificant time.”

The stark change in outfit also drew sharp remarks from General VP Malik who tweeted –

BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar too expressed displeasure over the new uniform.

Veteran Major Surendra Poonia said –

Former Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd) questioned: “Why do organisations private and government, and now the respected Rajya Sabha want similarity in attire with armed forces without any consideration for the dignity of soldiers. Is it because the public holds them in highest esteem? Legal provisions needed to respect uniform”.

In-house design!

Rajya Sabha sources told The Indian Express that the marshals had themselves sought a change to a uniform that would be user-friendly and have a modern look. They were unhappy that the Indian attire was the same as the chamber attendants who were junior to them.

“Marshals had long been demanding a change in attire because their earlier uniform was the same as what the non-gazetted staff wore, whereas the marshals are all officers,” said an official. Also, many described the turban as “cumbersome headgear that took very long to wear.”

Subsequently, senior officers of the Secretariat including the security officers held several rounds of discussions before designing the new dress. Instead of hiring an outside expert, the designing, sources said, was done in-house.

Whether this is the truth or yet another classic case of passing the blame, it seems like the Rajya Sabha will have to repeal the new ‘Fashion Design Bill’they tried to pass without debate.


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