Row as British-era club refuses entry to judge for wearing Indian clothes

The incident has sparked a heated debate in both Tamil Nadu and beyond

Delhi

India's Tamil Nadu Cricket Association dates its origins to 1935: a time when both the club and the country were run by the British authorities.

Many of its current rules date from then, including an insistence that “gentlemen” are clad in trousers, shirts with collars, and leather shoes. But that might be changing.

The club in the city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras, has found itself at the centre of a storm after turning away a guest who was wearing a dhoti, a traditional Indian garment that is something akin to a sarong.

Probably unknown to the club, the guest it turned away was a high court judge who protested his right to enter.

The incident has sparked a heated debate in both Tamil Nadu and beyond as to why, 67-years after India won its independence, such clubs should be insisting guests wear Western clothes rather than Indian.

“It’s a colonial rule,” the judge, D Hariparanthaman, told The Independent. “When we go to a function, or when we are in the home, we always wear the dhoti.”

Mr Hariparanthaman, a judge at what is, with no small irony, still called the Madras High Court, said he had visited the club last week to attend a book launch hosted by a former chief justice of the court.

He said that he and two other guests were told they could not enter because they were wearing dhotis.

“The press has taken up the issue and now the chief minister has made a statement that should put an end to this sartorial apartheid,” he added. “We don’t understand why dhoti-wearing people are not allowed.”

The issue has been seized on by local politicians, saying dhotis are a sign of Tamil culture and should not be discriminated against. Muthuvel Karunanidhi, head of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the opposition party in the state assembly, said a ban on such clothing was “condemnable”.

Other commentators, meanwhile, have said a private club has the right to impose such a dress code if it wishes and the people are not obliged to visit.

Cho Ramaswamy, a Chennai-based writer and founder of a Tamil language magazine, said many Tamils wore the dhoti but many wore Western clothes. “I think it is best for the clubs to decide,” he said.

This is not the first time a club established during the days of British rule in India, has triggered controversy over Raj-era dress requirements.

In the summer of 2011, the Calcutta Club in what is now Kolkata, refused entry to a Bengali artist who was wearing a traditional long shirt, or kurta, with traditional trousers.

The artist, Shuvaprasanna, who uses one name, said at the time that the club was trying to enforce a “feudal mindset”. The club had previously refused entry to another, more celebrated artist, MF Husain, who was not wearing shoes.

In Tamil Nadu, under pressure from other political parties, the state’s chief minister, Jayalalithaa Jayaram, has said she would now introduce legislation to stop what she she said was discrimination.

In a statement delivered in the state assembly on Wednesday, she denounced the actions of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and said she had been told other private members’ clubs in the city were enforcing similar dress codes.

“This is an act of insult to Tamil civilisation and culture. This is a denigrating act. I strongly condemn this act,” she said while thumping her desk, according to local media reports.

“If the clubs act against Tamil culture in future, the government will resort to cancel licences granted to them.”

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association has yet to issue an official statement on the issue and on Wednesday nobody from the club was available for comment.

However, one anonymous club official, speaking to the NDTV news channel, gave a possible insight into why it insisted on trousers and shoes. “The ban on dhotis is to prevent a wardrobe malfunction under the influence of alcohol, nothing else,” said the official. “But we can’t say so in public.”

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Application Support - Enterprise Java, SQL, Oracle, SQL Server

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A well-established financial soft...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape