The National flag represents the nation’s identity. The people show their tremendous love and respect towards the nation on 15th August and 26th January by proudly displaying flags wherever they can; but later in the evening the same flags are seen lying in garbage bins or in sewage pipes. For the last 19 years, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) has been using various media to create awareness about the ‘Respect National Flag’ campaign. Due to untiring efforts HJS has succeeded in ending 95% of production of plastic National Flags and the subsequent denigration of the Flag.
PIL to stop use of plastic National Flags
National Flags made from plastic do not get destroyed, hence one has to witness the denigration of the flag for many days following the National festivals. HJS filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court in 2011. Thereafter the Court ordered the Government to put an end to the denigration of the National Flag due to plastic flags. The Court also instructed the Government get together with organizations to set up an Action Committee to stop denigration of the Flag. The committee would be tasked with finding ways to create awareness about the various ways that plastic flags denigrate the National flag.
19 years and counting…
HJS filed the PIL regarding Plastic National Flags in 2011; but has been working incessantly to achieve its goal of creating public awareness to maintain the honour of the National Flag for the last 19 years. These efforts include lectures, quiz competitions, distributing pamphlets, putting up posters-flex, etc., educative videos on local cable – channels, collecting flags lying on streets; social media campaigns, etc. As a part of such campaigns, memoranda are submitted to schools, colleges, to public representatives, police and administrative officers. Many have appreciated HJS endeavour. Some Administrative officers even have issued orders to implement this HJS campaign all over.
Lectures in educational institutions created awareness among students regarding the disrespect to the National Flag. So students have started responsibly handling the National Flag. HJS volunteers also go around collecting discarded flags after 15th Aug and 26th Jan and deposit such flags with the administration.
Other efforts to stop the denigration of the Flag
HJS has registered complaints against those selling clothes with the National Flag printed on it. Such clothes have been banned in many places. Likewise, HJS is always in the forefront to stop whenever they notice the flag being disrespected, say in print or other media, advertisement, etc.
Awareness through audios and social media
1. As a part of the campaign, the Samiti has prepared an short video which is being shown in various movie-theatres, schools, colleges and other places. This helps in creating awareness on a large scale.
2. Articles are published in various dailies, weeklies, websites to reach out to as many people as possible. Some radio houses have also been helpful in this regard.
3. District Collectors have established a committee in some Districts to inspire public to ‘Respect the national flag’. HJS was invited to be a part of these committees. In places like Sangli and Kolhapur, the District administration and Primary Education Department had issued circulars inviting public to participate in HJS’ campaign.
4. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. have also been harnessed to create awareness about the campaign.
Constant followup with the Central Home Ministry
Indian National Flag is the identity of every Indian. Its use for any other purpose other than those prescribed in the Constitution is a cognisable and non-bailable offence. Despite this, e-commerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and others sell masks with the National Flag printed on them prior to 15th August and 26th January. Hence HJS continues to follow this issue up with the Central Home Ministry to act against those who disrespect the National Flag; and also take appropriate action to stop the production, sale and distribution of such masks.
This type of persistence for nearly two decades, by a small organisation like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, has to be unprecedented. If through such expansive public awareness Indians start honouring the National Flag, then this kind of disrespect would stop permanently!
– Mr Sagar Chopdar, HJS Co-ordinator, Mumbai.