Recently, early in the morning while I was driving back from work, I noticed something that bothered or offended me seriously. Let me post a picture of what I saw that morning.
You are right. That is the national flag of Indian hoisted in complete dark. What is even more surprising, it was hoisted in the center of a very busy intersection in national capital where there is movement of traffic all night. Before I tell you why I felt a little disturbed at this sight, let us take a little history related to hoisting the national flag of India and the flag code.
Up until a few years ago in India, unlike several other countries, a common man was not allowed to hoist the national flag except for some important days like Republic day, Independence day and Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. As per the flag code of India, people were not allowed to fly the tricolor except for on Government buildings or institutions like the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Parliament House, the Supreme Court of India, the High Courts, the Secretariats, the Commissioners’ office etc. Some of the rules per the flag code were as follows,
1. The national flag of India shall be made of hand spun and hand woven wool/cotton/silk khadi bunting and its length to height (width) ratio shall be 3:2.
2. The flag shall not be used for commercial purposes in violation of the Emblem and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. It should also not be used for personal purposes.
3. Flag cannot be be used for receiving, delivering, holding or carrying anything except for flower petals as part of celebrations like the Republic Day and the Independence Day.
4. Flag must not touch the ground or the floor or trail in water.
5. Where the flag is displayed in open, it should, as far as possible, be flown from sunrise to sunset, irrespective of weather conditions.
6. The saffron color band should be at the top.
* No flag or emblem can be either above the National Flag or to its right.
* All other flags must be to the left of the National Flag
* In a procession or parade, national flag should be on the marching right
* Flag must be taken down at sunset.
Things changed a little when Naveen Jindal filed and won a PIL which granted hoisting the tricolor as a fundamental right of every Indian citizen. Then he filed another PIL seeking permission to fly mammoth sized national flag on monumental flagpoles during night. Jindal argued that in countries like Malaysia, Jordon, Abu Dhabi, North Korea, Brazil, Mexico and Turkmenistan, monumental flags are flown at night and it should be allowed in India as well. Agreeing to his argument, the ministry said that such flagpoles could be installed, provided there was adequate arrangement for proper illumination of flags at night with backup in case of power failure and the flags are replaced immediately as soon as they get damaged due to vagaries of nature. After this decision was passed, the Indian Flag Code, established in 1950, was then amended after the decision of the Union cabinet.
The court clearly mentioned that if the flag is to to be hoisted at night, there must be proper arrangements of light, the flag cannot be in the dark but as you can see in this picture, law was clearly getting violated right out in the open and no one seemed to be bothered by it. While I was standing there, I noticed a few cops driving by. I thought to mention this to them and started to wave at them, asking to stop and also pointing at the flag at the same time. Cops on the other hand did not understand what I was saying, thought that I was just waving at them so they too waved back at me, smiled and drove away.
Earlier I used to think that what Naveen Jindal did was correct but after this sight, I started to wonder if he was indeed correct. Maybe the flag code of India was written decades ago keeping in mind that as a society, Indians would fail to follow the law and would end up disrespecting the flag. Should we really be allowed to hoist the national flag wherever we want if we cannot do it in the right manner?