Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Gap between Text and Practice

There is often a huge gap between text and practice.  This is seemingly true even of such a relatively simple thing as the policy instituted by Macaulay and his minute of 1835.  Though Macaulay and his Committee on Education recorded in their report for 1835 that they were for the vernaculars and only against Sanskrit and Arabic, it was not during Macaulay's stay in India - when he was available to clarify policy - and only after Macaulay's departure from India that Lord Auckland took up the question in 1839, and allowed vernacular schools.  

Christian critics of Hindus who rely on the "Hindu scriptures" often make a mistake by overlooking this.  (Moreover, the more fundamentalist of them get upset when Hindus don't follow their "scriptures".)

An amusing case of the gap between what is in the texts (in this case the French law books) and practice was brought up in Fareed Zakaria's GPS program on CNN last Sunday.  Here is the item from elsewhere on the web:

France Revokes 214-Year-Old Law That Made It Illegal For Women To Wear Pants

Though long unenforced, women have been legally forbidden from wearing pants in the French capital since 1799 – a law that came out of the French Revolution, when female renegades would wear long trousers in opposition of the wealth’s fashionable knee-length culottes—instigating a political movement named, ‘sans-culottes.’ Government-obtained permission was required for a woman to wear any form of menswear in public, with a translated excerpt of the law reading: “Any woman who wants to dress as a man must come to police headquarters to get permission.” ...

In the century after the Revolution, France only has only amended its menswear law twice, to accommodate horseback riding and bicycles, the 19th century’s more fashionable forms of exercise. In this iteration, women could wear “pantalons” only if they were “holding the handlebars of a bicycle or the reigns of a horse,” reports French national news outlet France 24.

But last week, the law was finally declared “null and void,” with French officials calling the piece of legislature a “museum piece.”