The only BIS-certified flag manufacturing unit in India, eclipsed by polyester flags

The Khadi Sanghas have planned a symbolic demonstration on July 27 against the amendments to the Flag Code

The Khadi Sanghas have planned a symbolic demonstration on July 27 against the amendments to the Flag Code

As the nation is busy preparing for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of independence, the mood in the only national flag manufacturing unit recognized by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in Karnataka Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta Sangha, Bengeri, in Hubballi in North Karnataka, is not optimistic. It is the unit that supplies the Habs to be hoisted to the top of Fort Rouge.

Every year at the end of July, the Samyukta Sangha is said to have shipped national flags worth ₹2.5 crore. But thanks to the Center’s amendment to the National Flag Code allowing flags made of polyester fabric, the Sangha did not receive even half of the usual orders. So far, he has orders for flags worth around ₹1.2 crore, but the Sangha has a stock of raw materials to supply flags worth ₹5. The Samyukta Sangha had set its goal high this year in anticipation of a lively ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ celebration and procured more raw materials.

The flag code amendment allowing polyester flags came as a shock not only to the Samyukta Sangha but also to everyone involved in the Khadi and Village Industries.

“Har Ghar Tiranga”

Ironically enough, there was no demand for khadi flags made here even when the government launched the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign. One of the reasons is that the size specified in the campaign (20X30 inches and 16×27 inches) is not allowed under BIS standards for the national flag. Hubballi’s unit, recognized by BIS in 2004, meticulously follows the flag code and manufactures only nine specified sizes of the flag. BIS managers conduct quarterly visits to ensure standards and quality are maintained. The second reason, and probably the most important, is that a polyester flag is very cheap compared to the khadi flag.

Shivanand Mathapathi from Samyukta Sangha said The Hindu that the sanctity of the tricolor has been “trivialized” by authorizing polyester fabric. “We leave our slippers [outside] and enter the khadi units, especially the flag unit. And no Khadi Sangha likes to belittle the Habs by making it with polyester fabric,” he said. While contacting this correspondent, he received calls requesting the supply of small flags in accordance with the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign, as well as polyester flags, to which he replied in the negative.

Letters of protest

In fact, when the news of the amendment to the Flag Code arrived, the Khadi Sanghas held a meeting and wrote to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs to demand the withdrawal of the amendment. A copy was also given to Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister and local MP Pralhad Joshi. But there has been no response so far.

They have now planned a symbolic demonstration on July 27. About 500 people, mostly women involved in making khadi flags, will take part in the protest against the Samykta Sangha amendment in Hubballi. The plan is to intensify the unrest if apathy persists.

A total of about 1,200 people, mostly women, are involved in the work of making the national flag in more than 15 Sangha units spread across Dharwad and Bagalkot districts. While Bengeri in Hubballi houses the flag-making unit, where sewing, printing and dyeing takes place, khadi fabric is spun and woven in khadi units. including in Tulasigeri, spread over Bagalkot district. The Khadi Sangha at Garag of Dharwad district is a separate unit where the khadi fabric for the flag is woven, but it has currently stopped production.

The tricolor can now be flown day or night

In another case, as part of the same campaign, the government changed the country’s flag code by allowing the tricolor to fly day and night.

In a letter to secretaries of all ministries and central departments, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the display, hoisting and use of the tricolor is governed by the flag code of 2002 and the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act of 1971.

The Flag Code of India, 2002 was amended by an Ordinance dated 20 July 2022 and clause (xi) of paragraph 2.2 of Part II of the Flag Code of India, 2002 shall now read as follows: (xi) “when the flag is flown in the open air or displayed on the home of a member of the public, it may be flown day and night”.

With contributions from PTI

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