Representational image | Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg
Representational image | Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg
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It took a decade-long relentless legal struggle to win the right to display the Tiranga.

India is a land of diversity. While we are an amalgamation of hundreds of cultural groups, diverse linguistic backgrounds, professing all major religions of the world, our national identity binds us together. What is the one physical symbol that represents it? It is undoubtedly our national flag: the Indian Tricolour or ‘Tiranga’.

The Tiranga binds the nation in one spirit by evoking memories of our freedom struggle. It represents the sacrifices made by millions of Indians for Independence as well as our daily struggle to better it. Thus, our national flag not only represents the past and present journey of our nation, it also symbolises the India of our dreams.

The Flag defining a territory has always belonged to its rulers, right from the time of Ashoka in ancient India to the time of the Mughals in medieval India and then the Britishers in colonial India.

In much the same way, while the National Flag was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 July 1947, it did not symbolise the people of India in the true sense.

India gained Independence on 15 August 1947 and we declared ourself a Republic, but the National Flag ended up being used as a ‘government flag’, and private citizens were not allowed to display it except on select occasions like Independence Day and Republic Day.

It took a decade-long relentless legal struggle to win the right to display the Tiranga. On 23 January 2004, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice V.N. Khare, Justice Brijesh Kumar and Justice S.B. Sinha declared that the right to fly the National Flag freely with respect and dignity is a fundamental right of an Indian citizen within the meaning of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. It defined the expression and manifestation of a citizen’s allegiance to-and sentiment of pride for-the nation.

Hearing a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, Justice D.P. Wadhwa and Justice M.K. Sharma stated that the citizens of the country cannot be prohibited from displaying the national flag in a respectful manner.

The Flag foundation of India was set up following the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India to popularise the display of Tiranga, with a great sense of pride.

Also read: Technically, the national flag shouldn’t fly at half-mast everywhere for Karunanidhi

Cause for celebration

In order to spread the symbolism of the Tiranga, the Flag Foundation has installed 72 monumental flags across the nation that fly day and night.

Today, it is heartening to see them fluttering at airports, universities, hospitals, malls, etc-and India has installed more flags at monuments than any other country in the world.

When we display the national flag, the most solemn symbol of our country, we rise above our political and religious affiliations and just show that we are proud Indians.

The National Flag indeed inspires us to dedicate ourselves towards nation-building.

Despite the importance of our beloved Tiranga in our daily lives, we do not have a National Flag Day. So why not mark this occasion on 23 January, as it is the day we earned the right to display our flag?

As Indians, we can articulate and express our relationship with the Tiranga on this day.After all, individual citizens have their own relationship with the flag.

Also read: Can Indian democracy make room for state flags and assertion of regional identities?

The author is a former Member of Parliament and President of Flag Foundation of India.

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