Prestigious New Delhi golf club accused of racism over dress row

Tailin Lyngdoh was asked to leave the Delhi Golf Club on June 25, 2017 for wearing a Jainsem.
Tailin Lyngdoh was asked to leave the Delhi Golf Club on June 25, 2017 for wearing a Jainsem. PHOTO: TWITTER/PALLABGHOSH

NEW DELHI (AFP) - New Delhi's prestigious colonial-era golf club apologised on Tuesday (June 27) after a woman claimed she had been told to leave the premises because she was wearing the traditional dress of her native north-east.

The Delhi Golf Club - which houses an 80-hectare course in the heart of the city and is a favourite hangout of the Delhi elite - denied it had ordered the woman to leave, but admitted mistakes had been made.

The row erupted after Nivedita Barthakur, a London-based doctor, went for lunch at the club with her children's nanny, who was wearing a Jainsem - several pieces of cloth that are tied or pinned at the shoulders, worn at ankle or knee length.

"Today Tailin Lyngdoh, an extremely proud Khasi lady who has travelled the world in her Jainsem from London to UAE, was thrown out of the Delhi Golf Club because her dress was taken for a maid's uniform," Barthakur posted on Facebook late on Sunday (June 25).

Tailin Lyngdoh then told the Times Now news channel she had been told her dress "didn't look right for the place".

"I felt very bad because in so many years, no one has ever treated me like that," she said.

The claims sparked anger on social media, where many accused the club of racially discriminating against Lyngdoh.

One typical tweet accused the club of being "reminiscent of colonial past and shameless VIP culture".

People from India's isolated north-east routinely complain of racial profiling and discrimination based on their facial features, which appear more Asiatic than other Indians.

The club apologised on its website on Tuesday, but maintained that the guests were not asked to leave.

"The management has immediately investigated the incident and it has emerged that the incident could have been handled in a much better way by the staff member," Rajiv Hora, club secretary said.

The club dates back to 1930 and maintains a dress code, banning hats, jeans, shorts, rubber sandals and collarless t-shirts for women.

However, it has no restrictions on national dress or casual clothing "provided it does not offend the sensibilities of other members present".