A campaign by Maneka Gandhi to eliminate leather shoes for children in India’s schools has apparently been successful. The Telegraph reported her proposal was accepted by India’s Central Board of School Education and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination.
In Madras, sixteen schools have already banned leather shoes, and in Punjab, protesters have been active in trying to implement the change. Ms. Ghandi wrote in one of her letters to officials, “This decision was forced on Indians by the British. It is a decision that is not just unhealthy for children but environmentally very dangerous.” Some central government officials are now backing her position.
The reasons for banning the shoes were cited as they are too hot for the Indian climate, they don’t absorb perspiration, they were forced on Indians by the British during colonial times, they are expensive for parents, and their polish is unhealthy. Also the environmental and animal rights perspective was considered in that tanneries can be unhealthy workplaces, and the use of cow leather is not the most humane practice.
In place of leather, canvas shoes will be worn by Indian school children. Maneka Ghandi was married to Indira Ghandi’s son. She is a politician, writer, environmentalist, and animal rights advocate according to Wikipedia.