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I-Day fever: Rs 60 lakh flags sold!

August 09, 2007 13:51 IST

With barely a week to go for the Independence Day celebrations, India's only authorised flag manufacturing unit in Karnataka has already sold flags worth Rs 60 lakh (Rs 6 million).

The Karnataka Khadi Gramodyog Samyuktha Sangha in Hubli, a city, which is around 400 kilometres from Bangalore, is the only authorised to manufacturer of the Tricolour.

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In 2006, Khadi and Village Industries Commission granted KKGSS the permission to manufacture the Tricolour. The KKGSS claims that last year they had dispatched Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million) worth of flags and this year the figure has already doubled, thanks to the huge demand, as the country is celebrating 60 years of independence, and the 150th anniversary of the first war of independence (Sepoy Mutiny).

Earlier, the flag was manufactured at a tiny unit in Borivili in suburban Mumbai. Dhanesh Navinchandra Bhatt's factory was the only place in India where the Bureau of Indian Standards-marked, government-approved Tricolour was produced.

However with a view to implement the Flag Code in its entirety, the KKGSS was authorised to manufacture the Indian flag.

At present there are 60 machines, 100 specialist spinners and an equal number of weavers making the Tricolour. "It is very important that we maintain standards or else we could be penalised heavily," explains, secretary of the KKGSS, S Somnatti.

The khadi cloth is procured from one of the units belonging to the KKGSS. The cloth is then cut into three parts and dyed in the three different colours (saffron, white and green). It is then brought back to the KKGSS where the Ashok chakra (wheel) is printed on the white cloth. The three different pieces are then stitched together.

The process does not end here. The flags are then inspected by the Bureau of Indian Standards. In case a flag is found to be defective, then the entire lot is rejected. Apart from this a fine is imposed and action initiated under the Flag Code of India 2002, says Patil B S, chairman of the KKGSS.

Although the job seems to be tough the unit has an annual turnover of Rs 1.5 crore (Rs 15 million). This is largely thanks to Supreme Court of India, which permitted citizens to hoist the Tricolour during national festivals in the Naveen Jindal vs Union of India case.

The KKGSS says that the demand for the flag is increasing and they have to hire more people in future to cater to the demand. However the selection process is tough and only 15 out of the 60 people who applied got selected.

Explains Patil, "All the employees have to be diploma holders or should have done a certificate course in tailoring. Apart from this they have to be skilled, as we cannot
afford any mistakes."

The KKGSS however does not approve of plastic flags being sold. They say that it is against the flag code, which specifies that the flag should be made of cloth. The KKGSS now proposes to cater to the students who wish to carry a miniature of the flag to school on Independence Day. These special flags will be priced just Rs 2, KKGSS said.
Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore