Social media users have been sharing a photo purportedly of Uttaranchal University students at their convocation. They claim that the students were asked to wear saffron at the ceremony instead of the usual black gowns and caps. Mukesh Chauhan, who identifies himself as the vice president of BJP Greater Noida, first made the claim on Twitter on March 17.

On March 19, ETV Uttarakhand similarly reported, “This was the first time that the Uttaranchal University students sported light yellow plain kurtas and saffron scarves at their convocation, replacing black gowns and caps. This initiative by the university is garnering appreciation all over the country as well as in the state.” (Archive link)

Fact-check

According to the Uttaranchal University website, the institute’s first convocation took place in February 2020. Several photos from the occasion can also be found on the site that show the students sporting scarves of multiple colours.

The university’s Twitter handle also posted similar photos on February 29, 2020.

Coming to the viral photo, we found that this is indeed a picture of the students of Uttaranchal University. We came across another picture of the female student seen in the viral photo on the institute’s website.

Apart from this, the convocation images on the website indicate that Uttaranchal University has not mandated a single colour as part of the dress code. In addition to saffron, blue and maroon scarves were also worn by the students.

We reached out to Uttaranchal University and were informed that the convocation ceremony does not mandate students to wear a single colour. Different colours are assigned to students from different departments. One of the pictures from the ceremony where students can be spotted in saffron was picked up and shared with a false claim.

Was Indian wear the dress code for the first time?

In July 2015, UGC Secretary Dr. Jaspal S. Sandhu wrote a letter to all universities and asked them to consider handloom garments as formal wear on occasions like convocation ceremony. The letter states that not only are handloom textiles an integral part of the country’s rich culture and heritage, but they also provide livelihoods to lakhs of rural Indians.

In October 2018, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had appealed to all universities to ask students to wear Indian wear instead of British-inspired garments at their convocation ceremonies.

Universities in India have taken such decisions even before the BJP government came to power. In 2013, IIT-BHU students adopted Indian traditional wear for their graduation, ditching the old custom of wearing black gowns.

Since 2012, traditional ethnic wear has been part of the convocation dress code at IIIT Hyderabad. It also mentions the names of some Khadi ashrams and handloom houses where these can be purchased.

The claim about Uttaranchal University making saffron attire a part of their convocation dress code is false. Furthermore, this wasn’t the first time that a university made traditional wear the dress code for its convocation ceremony. ETV Uttarakhand promoted the false claim in a misreport. Alt News had debunked a similar claim in 2019 when viral messages alleged that students of IIT Varanasi wore traditional attire instead of black gowns at their convocation.

False claim widespread

The claim gathered traction after Mukesh Chauhan’s tweet, with many suggesting that Uttaranchal University ended the colonial-era tradition of black gowns and caps by mandating saffron attire at this year’s function. The picture is viral on Twitter.

One Rakesh Thiyya posted the photo on March 18, drawing 10,000 likes as of this writing. (Archive link)

It also made its way to Facebook. The post below received more than 6,000 likes.

The viral photo and claims are being circulated on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. We also received a request to fact-check it on the Alt News WhatsApp number.

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About the Author

Priyanka Jha specialises in monitoring and researching mis/disinformation at Alt News. She also manages the Alt News Hindi portal.