Government employees in Bangladesh are going casual – by order of the prime minister. And, it’s all in the name of saving power. Sheikh Hasina has ordered men who work for the government to forgo ties, suits and jackets to minimize the need for air conditioning.

The switch in dress codes comes in the midst of a long energy shortage in Bangladesh, which has seen daily blackouts. Power plants have been unable to meet the increase in demand that has come along with the growth of the country’s economy, which has increased by 6 percent annually for the past five years.

Columnist Maswood Alam Khan of English-speaking Bangladeshi news source The New Nation opines that the new rules make sense not only for the purpose of reducing energy consumption, but for re-igniting a sense of national pride.

“Wearing suits and stuffing our necks with a tie, in spite of ourselves, is a sartorial fashion we have borrowed from the British who were our colonial rulers. Our ancestors enjoyed punishing themselves by mimicking the British style and fashion, which was seen as synonymous with being chic and modern,” Khan wrote.

The rules apply to men only, but extend even to the highest levels of office, and allow workers to wear their shirts untucked as well. A senior official told the BBC that Sheikh Hasina will soon encourage private businesses to follow suit (so to speak).

Shedding Western-influenced business attire isn’t the only way that Bangladesh is approaching its energy crisis. The government introduced daylight savings time in June and plans to spend $6 billion on new power plants.

MNN homepage photo: Vold77/iStockphoto