Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 14:04 UK

India push to ban 'colonial' leather shoes for school

Indian school children
Black shoes are part of uniform in most schools in India

Indian children could soon be wearing canvas shoes to school rather than the heavy leather brogues, widely viewed as relics from the British colonial era.

Indian politician Maneka Gandhi is campaigning to ban the shoes as they are "unhealthy and uncomfortable" and "destroying" the feet of school-goers.

Reports say the drive is supported by two major school boards. Education policy-makers have not yet commented.

Black leather shoes are mandatory for students in most schools in India.

"Leather shoes are really bad for our children," news agency AFP quoted Ms Gandhi as saying.

These shoes, originally from Ireland and Scotland, were suitable for cold climates and not for the heat of India, she added.

Last year, Ms Gandhi wrote to the human resource development ministry protesting against the use of leather shoes.

The ministry then asked school boards for their opinion.

According to reports, the two main boards - Central Board of School Education (CBSE) and Indian Council for Secondary Education (ICSE) - have responded favourably to the suggestion.

Ms Gandhi says several schools in the southern city of Madras (Chennai) have already swapped leather shoes for canvas ones. A similar move is underway in the northern city of Chandigarh too, she says.

Maneka Gandhi is the daughter-in-law of former Indian premier Indira Gandhi and the widow of her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi.

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