No signs of affection among students in two Indian schools

The students of two schools in Mumbai will no face disciplinary action if caught holding hands, kissing or touching on campus.

The schools justified the move by saying that these acts, which are increasingly being shown by the local entertainment industry and emulated by the students, were contrary to traditional Indian values.

Parents were told that the school has a "zero tolerance toward bullying, vulgarity, vandalism and displays of affection not acceptable to society at large," said J. Vas, principal of the Jamnabai Narsee school.

"Hormones run riot at 16 to 18 years and we need to take disciplinary measures, set limits and put in certain ground rules," said Vas.

India is a conservative society where public displays of affection are largely taboo. But in recent years, Indian-language movies have started showing scenes of kissing, partly because of slowly changing values as India opens up to the West.

The recently released code of conduct at the Vibgyor High School labeled "unwarranted touching" among students as an offense on the level with cursing and aggressive behavior.

It also said "clothing that is inappropriate or that exposes chest, shoulders, bare midsection or buttocks will not be permissible."

"Students must be made to understand that this is not the right thing to do in school," said Rustom Kerawalla, a member of the Vibgyor school board. "The focus should be on school work."

Those caught violating the rules would be punished and repeat offenders would be suspended, said Vas, adding that she believed other schools would follow suite.

Some parents hailed the ruling.

"I'm quite happy with this rule. At least I know my daughter is safe," said S. Jobalia. "These children are too young to be getting friendly with each other so the school needs to place restrictions."

Others however, were not as pleased.

"These rules are silly in today's day and age," said N. Shah, whose son attends one of the schools. "What sense are all these restrictions? If you ban anything, youngsters will make sure they find a way to do exactly that."