By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
The National Flag is a symbol of the Nation’s respect and pride. The flag is the symbol under which our ancestors have strived to promote the Federation and have worked to ensure that it is granted a deserved position among nations and people of the world. In India, during Independence Day & Republic day there is a new trend of selling flags made of paper and plastic, which is not fare. Ahead of Independence Day, the Centre has urged all citizens not to use national flag made up of plastic and asked states and Union Territories to ensure strict compliance of the flag code.
Our PM Narendra Modi has already called for wide publicity and sensitisation of Central and state departments as well as the public to strictly use “paper flags” instead of plastic flags and ensure that national flags are disposed in ways that are consistent with the “dignity of the flag”. Millions of patriots have laid their lives to achieve freedom and our National Flag is a symbol of their great sacrifice. Every true Indian knows the importance of this flag and would make sure that it continues to sway freely always.Our national flag is courage and inspiration for us. It makes us remember about the sacrifices of our great Indian freedom fighters. It makes us remember that how tough that moment was for them. Getting freedom was not so easy. We should always respect our flag and never let it go down for our motherland. Many sacrificed their life to save the honour of the Flag by not allowing it to fall down on the ground. Unfortunately people have forgotten to maintain the honour of the Nation. Abuse of national flags takes place on Independence Day and Republic Day, due to use of plastic flags. National flag is used by people in every corner, every crossroad, every shop, and every vehicle. Some proudly places by pinning up on the clothes. Someone even set on vehicles but it is painful to see our national flat in Garbage next day. Many unceremoniously dump the national flag to the dustbin while some thrown it on the road or in gutter. The feelings of patriotism and loyalty to a country are entrenched in the minds of individuals right from the time they start going to school. While each child enjoys carrying a paper flag on the independence and republic day, parents must be very watchful in ensuring that the flag is treated with respect.
The plastic or paper Flags that are held in the hand on the ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Republic Day’ with great honour and love during the flag hoisting ceremony are seen lying on the streets, drains, filthy places in the afternoon of the same Day itself.
Is this not an insult to the bold patriots who suffered bullets of the British and the Portuguese on their chest to save the honour of the Flag? Flag Code of India 2002, Section II, Point 2.2 (xiii) says that when the Flag is in a damaged or soiled condition, it shall be destroyed as a whole in private, preferably by respectful burning or by any other method consistent with the dignity of the Flag. The Flag Code of India, 2002 containing the provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act, 1971 governing the guidelines for display of the national flag of India clearly mentions that whoever in any public place shows disrespect to or brings into contempt the national flag shall be punished according to the law. According to Section 2 of ‘The Prevention of insults to National Honour Act, 1971’ – Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) the Indian National Flag or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
There have been complaints that after Republic Day and Independence Day, flags made of plastic are often found lying on roads and gutters. It is observed that paper and plastic national flags are found strewn all over roads and even in gutters right from 26th January and it takes time to dispose of plastic flags. The government has already passed orders banning the manufacture, sale, distribution and display of plastic national flags. According to our Flag Code, “The National Flag of India shall be made of hand spun and hand woven wool/cotton/silk khadi bunting.” Necessary action as per Mumbai High Court’s orders should be taken for prevention of insult of national flags. All heads of departments and other officials should take care to ensure that the national flag is used only in a manner consistent with the provisions of the flag code.
Our national flag is used in festoons. After all the celebrations, people just leave them there. The flags fall to the ground and are stepped on. Plastic flags are preferred by many political parties for the election campaign. The Model Code of Conduct bans the display of any banners or flags in public places. The flags are not only environmentally unfriendly, but also physically hazardous as the loose ends of the twine they are attached to; fluttering from lampposts and buildings; pose a danger to two-wheeler riders and pedestrians. The burning of non-biodegradable waste, including plastic flags, releases dioxins into the atmosphere.
We must uphold its dignity even if it is at the cost of our lives. Showing respect for National Flag is a symbol for the moral values of the citizens of the country. Don’t we think like the national anthem and pledge are printed in school textbooks, a message about national flags can also be printed, our national flag should not be used as a festoon, rosette or bunting or in any manner for decoration. It should be hoisted on important national, cultural and sports events. The paper flags should not be thrown on the ground or discarded after the event and should be disposed of in privacy with the dignity of the flag, efforts should be made to educate, and spread awareness to the people of the country through advertising, in print and electronic media, so that the proper usage and dignity of national flag should not suffer in any manner. (The author is a freelance journalist & a cartoonist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)