Has the BMC suddenly become fashion conscious or does it have a huge colonial hangover? That’s the question Kalbadevi resident Bernard Carrasco (37) was forced to ponder over when he was refused entry into the BMC headquarters at Fort for wearing shorts.
Bernard Carrasco had gone to the BMC headquarters to file a complaint against illegal construction near his house in Kalbadevi
Like umpteen other men and women in Mumbai, Carrasco, a duty manager at T2, wore shorts yesterday to avoid getting his trousers wet in the torrential downpours that are a regular feature at this time of the year. The security personnel at the BMC office clearly did not appreciate this.
Carrasco, who was visiting the BMC headquarters to register a complaint against illegal construction near his house, could not do so as he was not allowed to enter. “I was shocked and felt humiliated. I have visited the BMC office in shorts before, but no one had stopped me then,” he said.
“The incident smacked of a colonial mindset. The guards were behaving like the British, who would not allow Indians to enter public institutions on frivolous grounds. When I argued and asked them what the reason was, they said the dress code was not allowed,” said Carrasco. BMC sources later told mid-day that there is no such dress code.
Refusing to relent, Carrasco asked the guards to take him to a higher-up, and he was taken to deputy chief security officer Prashant Sankhe’s office. “I asked him about the dress code and requested him to show me the rule that dictates that men can’t walk into the BMC office in shorts, but he couldn’t give a satisfactory reply. I don’t get what the problem is, even policemen in Mumbai used to wear shorts as part of their uniform until the 1980s,” he added.
'In women’s interest'
When mid-day approached Sankhe, however, he said, “We have got several complaints from women employees working in the building regarding men wearing half-pants. They told us that they feel uncomfortable and it looks awkward in an office environment.”
Sankhe agreed that there was no rule mandating a dress code for visiting the BMC office, but said that it was “ethically” not right to walk into any BMC office be it the headquarters or a ward office - in shorts. “If he wants to come to the BMC wearing these clothes, then he must get a letter from senior authorities like the Additional Municipal Commissioner or Deputy Municipal Commissioner to allow him into the building,” said Sankhe.
When we asked Sankhe to give details of the complaints made by women employees about men wearing half-pants, he said he did not have them handy. Joint Municipal Commissioner S S Shinde said, “There is no such dress code for the BMC, but if someone is coming to the BMC office then they should dress up in decent clothes. If our guards had stopped that man, there must have been some problem with his attire.”
Cover up the mannequins!
In May last year, the BMC cleared a proposal banning the display of lingerie on mannequins in Mumbai. The proposal was the brainchild of BJP corporator from Ghatkopar, Ritu Tawade, who had complained that the mannequins were seen as “sex toys” and were guilty of provoking sexual crimes against women.