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Why every Indian must fly the tricolour

July 26, 2011 14:59 IST

Naveen JindalIt is every Indian's fundamental right to fly the tricolour with dignity and honour. If the national flag is flown by a larger number of Indians, it will revolutionise, significantly, the way we think and feel about India, making us a happier and prouder nation, while enhancing our sense of patriotism, says Naveen Jindal.

It is surprising that India, with her rich and ancient heritage, did not have a single flag that she could call her own until 1947. For over 4,000 years, India was ruled by a diverse assortment of kings, clans and dynasties, each with its own unique and independent flag. A glimpse into the past shows a vast array of flags adorning Indian history.

Starting with the epic era of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, when the gods and goddesses each had their very own dhvajas, to the symbols and seals of the Indus valley civilization, dating back to 2500 BC, the golden period of the Maurya dynasty, Mughal rule, all the way through to British domination of the Indian subcontinent, flag of myriad hues fluttered across the Indian skies. The Indian populace humbly accepted the flag as a symbol of the authority of the king or the ruler. Ordinary citizens never had a flag that they could proudly call their own.

During the pre-independence era, there was no national flag anywhere in India. However, in 1906, the Bengal partition gave the nation its first Tiranga, or tricoloured flag, followed by the Charkha flag in 1921, which inspired the nation throughout the freedom movement until Independence.

Independent India's national flag, the tricolour, came into existence on July 22, 1947. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru described it as 'a flag of freedom' while moving the resolution on the flag in the constituent assembly. And, for the first time in the long history of the nation, Indians could look up with pride and honour at their country's flag.

However, to their utter dismay, ordinary citizens soon realised that they did not have the right to fly the tricolour on all days of the year. The display of the national flag was the exclusive privilege of certain senior government dignitaries as mentioned in the flag code of India. The tricolour was perceived as a flag of government authority and not as the ordinary citizen's tribute to nationhood.

I am glad that from January 26, 2002, after 55 years of Independence, Indian citizens were permitted to fly their national flag throughout the year. This was the result of a long and protracted legal battle. And on January 23, 2004 in a historic judgment, the honourable Supreme Court held that the right to fly the national flag freely, with respect and dignity, was a fundamental right.

The tricolour has always been a great source of inspiration for me since my childhood. When we display the national flag, we rise above our religion, political affiliation and the region we belong to. In doing so, we don't merely show our love for our country -- we concomitantly partake in our collective and individual pride in being Indian. The flag also reminds us of our duties towards our country.

When a company flies the national flag at its office or factory premises, it is indubitably a source of genuine inspiration for the workers and the staff, who feel that they are working not just for the company, but for the country as well. It is a symbolic way of placing national interest ahead of everything.

I feel strongly that since all of us now have the right to fly the tricolour, we must display the national flag every day. The joy and happiness that it will bring to us is difficult to articulate, but it certainly will generate a powerful felt experience. The tricolour across the Indian skies will, of needs, inculcate a deep feeling of patriotism and serve as a motivator for everyone, inspiring us to attain greater heights.

A liberal display of the national flag promotes patriotism. The tricolour played a pivotal role in uniting people during India's freedom struggle. Holding the flag , flying it high above their heads, Indians all over the country braved the batons of the British,  and when one flag bearer succumbed to the atrocities of the British, the flag was passed on to the other. The flag gave them the inner strength to fight the British.

The tricolour, as a symbol of free India, reminds us that we are all equal, irrespective of our religion, caste, and creed. It evokes a spirit of brotherhood, a spirit of freedom, a spirit of nationalism, and a feeling of oneness. The tricolour is not merely the strongest symbol of national unity; it is also a sacred symbol. All Indian citizens must be encouraged to own it, love it, respect it and display it.

It will be my endeavour to see that the national flag and the message it carries, both symbolically and literally, reaches all Indians. Mere display of the flag is not enough. We must live by its ideals, committing ourselves to the national spirit that it symbolises. Reminding us of our commitment to our motherland, the tricolour tells us to contribute our share towards the well being of the nation in a manner analogous to our predecessors.

It tells us that our action must do the nation proud. It also reminds us that we can take this great country forward. United, we can overcome all the difficulties and hardship that face the nation. The tricolour inspires us to do any task that is assigned to us with honestly and integrity, and will inspire fellow citizens to lead a life of commitment, courage and virtue, both personally and in the work place.

The story of my crusade to liberate the flag would be incomplete if I did not take this opportunity to mention those sources of my strength and inspiration that saw me through to victory. First, I would like to pay tribute to the glorious inspiration I got from my revered father, the late Om Prakash Jindal, a truly exceptional and remarkable man. Apart from his wisdom and encouragement, it was his own extraordinary life that mobilised me and accorded me the strength to pursue this dream.

In my crusade to 'liberate' the flag, I was supported and guided by many people, including several legal luminaries.

The tricolour belongs to over a thousand million Indians who live in India and abroad.  It is a symbol of our freedom. It is every Indian's fundamental right to fly it with dignity and honour. If the national flag is flown by a larger number of Indians, it will revolutionise, significantly, the way we think and feel about India, making us a happier and prouder nation, while enhancing our sense of patriotism. Let us all work together towards popularising the display of our national flag, as a way of expressing our love for, and faith in, our nation.

Naveen Jindal is an industrialist and a Member of Parliament.

Naveen Jindal