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Mangalore: My Foot! Who Sets the Rules for Libraries?
by Prof Narendra Nayak
Mangalore: This question has to be raised with the authorities in charge of the libraries in Mangalore and Karnataka or can one extend it to the whole of the country?
I had an occasion to visit the public library at the Gandhi Nagar park, Mannagudda, Mangalore where I was asked to leave my footwear outside. In fact, I could see quite a few items of footwear already left outside the premises. The library being a public place run with public funds cannot impose its own rules on people visiting it.
This raises the important question as to how a rule like keeping the footwear outside can be imposed in a place run with public funds. In fact I have come across quite a few shops imposing this requirement on the customers.
Once I was asked by a cloth shop-keeper to keep my footwear outside and I had to tell him that there were other cloth shops and took my custom elsewhere. There are various places of worship where there are such restrictions probably because of superstitions associated with articles made of leather!
Not that I am a visitor to such places but it certainly rankles when one cannot visit a place like a library run on public funds without submitting to arbitrary rules set according to the whims and fancies of people who are paid from public funds to look after the premises.
I have visited many libraries all over India and other parts of the world too and have not seen this sort of a rule that footwear has to be left outside. Is this sort of a rule imposing a superstitious belief on the people permissible? The concept that a place is holy and hence the footwear has to be kept outside is a blatant attempt to saffronize the public places.
Such a concept has no place in a secular democracy and if an explanation is given that the place would become dirty, there were two doormats kept outside on which people could be asked to wipe their footwear clean before they enter.
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