Naveen Jindal argues for 26 January to be the culmination of Flag Week in India

In earlier times, different flags represented the reign and territories of the ruler. The Britishers displayed their Union Jack, Mughals had their own flag and so did the hundreds of rulers before them. Each of these flags represented the ruler, not the people.

Naveen Jindal January 26, 2020 13:56:41 IST
Naveen Jindal argues for 26 January to be the culmination of Flag Week in India

It will be necessary for us Indians — Muslims, Christians Jews, Parsis and all others to whom India is their home — to recognise a common flag to live and to die for: Mahatma Gandhi

Every nation in this world has its own flag. The flag symbolises that the nation is free and not under a 'foreign rule'. When India was ruled by the Britishers, the establishment’s flag was the Union Jack. We gained Independence thanks to the sacrifices of millions of patriots who laid down their lives, gave up their families and their own future for our beloved nation. Our National Flag, the Tiranga, is a product of this valiant freedom struggle.

While reminding us of the sacrifice of our founding fathers and mothers, it keeps us conscious of our duties towards the nation. It also reminds us that freedom has not been easy, it is invaluable.

It is this flag that binds us in one spirit despite our vast diversities as an amalgamation of diverse linguistic backgrounds, hundreds of cultural groups, professing all major religions of the world.

In earlier times, different flags represented the reign and territories of the ruler. The Britishers displayed their Union Jack, Mughals had their own flag and so did the hundreds of rulers before them. Each of these flags represented the ruler, not the people.

Naveen Jindal argues for 26 January to be the culmination of Flag Week in India

National Flag. News18

During the freedom struggle, the flag designed by Shri Pingali Venkayya came closest to representing the people of India across its multiple diversities. This was our flag. However post-Independence, when the Constituent Assembly adopted the Tricolour in its present form, it was kept away from the very same people it was meant to represent: We the people of India. Common citizens were not allowed to display the National Flag except on select occasions like Republic Day and Independence Day. The Tiranga saw its transition from a people’s flag born of mass movement to a ‘sarkari flag’.

It took a decade-long legal struggle to win the right to display the Tiranga. On 23 January, 2004, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice VN Khare, Justice Brijesh Kumar and Justice SB Sinha, declared that the right to display the National Flag freely with respect and dignity is a fundamental right of an Indian citizen within the meaning of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. It defined the expression and manifestation of a citizen’s allegiance to-and sentiment of pride for-the nation.

Hearing a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, Justice DP Wadhwa and Justice M.K. Sharma stated that the citizens of the country cannot be prohibited from displaying the national flag in a respectful manner.

Once we won the right to display the National Flag, subsequent changes were made to the Flag Code of India after amending the relevant act unanimously in the Parliament in 2005 to allow Indians to wear the Tiranga, as lapel pins, wrist bands, on the t-shirts etc.

Since we did not have the right to display or wear the Flag, we did not have the concept of Flag Day like most nations. We do have an Armed Forces Flag Day, but we do not have a National Flag day. Most countries in the World have a National Flag Day for their citizens to introspect and express their relationship with the Flag. It’s time we had a day in honour of our National flag. 23 January is an apt day for this.

Nations like the United States observe a ‘National Flag Week’ during which the flag is displayed on all government buildings, parades and several other programs are held across the country.

I believe we should have the period of January 23 to January 26 as National Flag Week in India, (from the day we Indians got the right to display it with pride every day to the Republic Day). After all, it’s our National flag that binds us in the spirit of our Republic.

The author, a former MP, is President of Flag Foundation of India

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