Jhanda Uncha Rahe Hamara

Written by  //  January 26, 2011  //  National Politics  //  5 Comments

In recent days leading up to the Republic Day, we have heard about and seen the politicking happening around Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) proposed plan to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. While the BJP asserts its right to unfurl the flag in the name of patriotism, the administration in Jammu and Kashmir and Centre are against this move fearing breach of peace which may lead to tension in the valley. On this issue, I am not sure about what is right or wrong. I do not know who is to take the blame for things to have come to this pass. I am not on that topic at all. I am on the point of the dignity of the flag and its use to gain political points.

In the midst of what is happening today, however, I ponder about a few issues that occur to me. I offer a few thoughts about hoisting our national flag without taking sides. Subject to maintaining the dignity of the flag, every citizen of India has a right to hoist the national flag in any part of the country and any time of the year. The Supreme Court has also held that it is a fundamental right of a citizen under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, being an expression and manifestation of his/her allegiance and feelings and sentiments of pride for the nation, subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2). Justifiably, there are some exceptions to this right. Restrictions on the exercise of the right can be imposed including in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, and public order among others.[1]

One does not have to seek permission from any individual or authority, or bow to ideological formalities to hoist the national flag. It is a matter of right. It gives us immense pride to hoist it every Republic Day on our roof-tops, carry it during India’s cricket matches or when sighted in a foreign country. To be honest, I cannot recall the exact meaning and significance of the three colours and the Ashoka Chakra in our national flag that was taught to us in school. Yet, like most of you I can recognize a tiranga when I see one. As a child, watching the movie Roja in early 1990s, tears of rolled out of my eyes when protagonist wrapped himself in fire and rolled on the ground to save the flag from burning. May be, some of you can identify with me on this. To me maintaining the dignity of the flag is of utmost importance. A part of it is to keep it free of political one-upmanship.

Yes, BJP may have the right to unfurl the flag. At the same time, given the events of the last few months the government may also be right in fearing for the peace, tranquillity and public order in the region. To me, both these stands seem to be merely political – using the flag hoisting to derive political mileage and stopping of the same for political pandering. In a few days, this issue will be forgotten before it is raked up again next August 15 or January 26. In the process, the casualty will be the tricolour, its dignity and our pride.

A few hours before the Republic Day celebrations and the hoisting of the tricolour, I wonder – even after six decades of our Republic, is it too much to ask for our right to freely hoist the tricolour? Is it too much for the country to come together as one to raise the tiranga in unison? Is it too much to ask ourselves as a nation to maintain the dignity of our national flag without subjecting it to narrow political gains?

Happy Republic Day!

[1] Union of India v. Naveen Jindal, available here.

5 Comments on "Jhanda Uncha Rahe Hamara"

  1. Arghya January 26, 2011 at 8:39 am ·

    Varun, lovely article. It’s true that maintaining the dignity of the flag is of utmost importance and I certainly identify with you as far as Arvind Swamy rolling over and burning himself to stop the flag from burning, at times of war and cricket are concerned. But the flag is inherently a political symbol. A national symbol yes, but also a political one. So perhaps we shouldn’t rue the fact of politicking over the national flag; it’s inevitable. Rather we should concentrate on how in the popular imagination such petty politics can become a non-issue and not hog the headlines as it has been doing now. And that can only happen if we as the citizenry assert our nationalism in ways that matter. And making a symbolic point at Lal chowk does not as I argue here

  2. Sidharth Chauhan January 28, 2011 at 6:22 am ·

    while one can contest the adage that patriotism is a refuge for scoundrels, it certainly is one for us exiles 🙂

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