How ‘go-getter’ Gen Bipin Rawat helped world’s largest National Flag fly high
‘You just prepare the Flag and give it to us; I take the responsibility of displaying the flag across the country with full honour,’ the CDS said
A decorated soldier and a strategist par excellence, Gen Bipin Rawat, the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), who was a “go-getter” in his words and by his actions, is no more. I did not share camaraderie with Gen Rawat, but I had the pleasure of meeting him on a number of occasions; one such being on 2 August this year at his South Block office in New Delhi.
Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), which I head as its chairman, had conceptualised making the world’s largest National Flag made of Khadi fabric. Making the flag of huge dimension — 225 feet long, 150 feet wide and weighing 1,400 kg — was not a challenge for KVIC artisans, but displaying it with full honour and dignity definitely was. I reached out to Gen Rawat seeking his advice and army support to display the flag in all its glory.
Upon reaching his office, I was received by Brig LS Lidder, the Defence Advisor to the CDS who also lost his life by the side of the CDS on Wednesday. In no time, Brig Lidder impressed me with his deep knowledge and love for Khadi.
The meeting with Gen Rawat started by introducing the concept of the monumental National Flag, its dimensions and significance in the celebrations of the 75 years of Independence. I gave him a few ideas. Gen Rawat appreciated the ideas and quickly said: “You just prepare the Flag and give it to us; I take the responsibility of displaying the flag across the country with full honour.”
The same day it was decided that the flag would drape a hilltop in the borderlands of Leh. He also promised to display the flag on Air Force Day, Navy Day and Army Day. The flag was handed over to the Indian Army in Mumbai on 19 September. A prime national asset of immense dignity was accepted by someone who had pledged his life for the honour of this nation.
In my another meeting with Gen Rawat, I was surprised to know that in just 15 days, he got examined all my suggestions for displaying the flag and explained to me at length the feasibility of displaying the flag at Signature Bridge in Delhi, Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, and flying it over Rajpath. He knew the significance of this large national asset and exuded unparalleled commitment and dedication to the cause.
Since then, I was constantly in touch with Gen Rawat over phone and requested him to display the flag at the Red Fort in New Delhi on completion of 100 crore vaccinations in the country, which he readily accepted.
I can say with full authority that without the personal vision and support of Gen Rawat, thousands of people of the country would not have watched their flag command some coveted national spaces in Delhi, Mumbai and on several other proud monumental locations. The world’s largest national flag will continue to fly and drape many more national monuments across the country during this year. And every time we display it to the world, we are reminded of a distinguished servant of the nation in whose mind nothing stood higher to the cause of our collective security.
The writer is chairman, Khadi and Village Industries Commission, New Delhi. The views expressed are personal.
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