CALL it picture imperfect. This is a still from the National Development Council (NDC) meet held at Vigyan Bhawan at the heart of New Delhi on Saturday. The wait was for the Prime Minister to arrive at the function which was attended by state chief ministers. But Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi just passed by Planning Commission Member Secretary and 1972 batch IAS Sudha Pillai without probably realizing that Mrs Pillai was actually wearing Assam’s traditional attire Mekhela Chador, a two-piece cloth resembling a sari. Gogoi instead was extending a very warm welcome to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, not seen in the photograph.
Sudha Pillai, a senior Central government official with the rank of a minister of state, is the wife of former home secretary GK Pillai, who has immense interests in North East India including Assam. The dress Mrs Pillai was wearing is made of golden silk called Muga which is a symbol of rich Assamese culture.
There are two main pieces of cloth that are draped around the body. As Wikipedia describes, the bottom portion, draped from the waist downwards is called mekhela. “It is in the form of a very wide cylinder that is folded into pleats to fit around the waist and tucked in. The top portion of a long length of cloth that has one end tucked into the upper portion of the Mekhela and the rest draped over and around the rest of the body,” Wiki describes an Assamese Mekhela Chador.
Significantly, American diplomat and former US ambassador to India Robert D Blackwill’s wife Anne Heiberg was so attracted by Assamese Mekhela Chador that she organized a private fashion show to showcase the highly attractive Assamese dress.
Action and Appointments
a) The extension of Central deputation tenure of Dr Bachittar Singh, a 1983 batch UP cadre IAS and joint secretary in the ministry of tribal affairs has been approved fora period upto December 31, 2011.