Every institution that wants to leave a rich tradition, a rich legacy of its decorum and order and wants to create an ‘Element’ of considerable influence in a majority of cases emphasises on wearing a Uniform. The word itself as one can see puts focus on creating a sense of uniformity but with a difference in interesting ways. Although the general norm is to enforce uniforms in schools, many colleges also place emphasis on a uniform as a crucial symbol or if one can also state as a ‘Branding Tool’. Now this would mean that the uniform assumes importance as a brand in many different ways;
On the Social front it becomes a powerful ‘Status Symbol’. The uniform would serve to distinguish students of a particular college from the rest of the people but at the same time it would ideally unite the students of the college to act as one cohesive unit. Here, a uniform tries promoting ‘Unity in Diversity’. Though students may come from diverse backgrounds of race, creed, gender etc a uniform makes it instantly recognisable as symbol of distinction and even pride. Consider the uniforms of the armed forces at National Defence Academy or Indian Military Academy. The objective of young boys and girls being made to wear uniforms apart from being ‘Symbols of Pride and Honour’ also serve to further accentuate the feeling of being part of a rich tradition which brings one to consider the cultural dimension.
Of course a uniform cannot merely be a status symbol. It also serves as a powerful remnant of custom steeped in tradition. The idea behind the uniform here would mean that it’s not just about wearing a piece of cloth but the objective with which its imbued. The Indian Police Academy’s stress on khaki as a durable and comfortable garment is an interesting example. The colour of the garment stresses a deep connection to earth and the logo symbolises law and order. Similarly, a person coming from the National Law Universities in India would be expected to don the traditional black and white clothes symbolising the institutions and regulations of jurisprudence that expect a certain attire again enshrined in a legacy. But tradition also at times stands for power enshrined in politics.
On the political dimension a uniform symbolises power and sophistication. The fact that colleges consist of student unions, it wouldn’t be farfetched to visualise them wearing a badge, memento or arm band. The objective here would be to symbolise distinction from the average student but at the same time the union is a representative of student demands at a higher pedestal. Uniform therefore becomes an ideal branding tool considering that it carries a certain level of responsibility which becomes further noticeable when one becomes part of a political or student group. Student bodies such as NSUI, ABVP and AISA and so on apart from being representative of student demands carry their party’s symbol and badge with them many a times to convey the above mentioned objective. The scarves carrying the symbol of the hand, the lotus or the sickle and the hammer when inscribed on a piece of cloth and carried by a student body representative becomes a symbol of relevance.
Uniforms ultimately emphasise coherence with a difference, unity in diversity and carry the responsibility of being part of a mindset imbued in social, cultural and political aspects that of course aren’t stagnant but change from time to time.