Dr. S. Radhakrishnan explained about the national flag in the Constituent Assembly which adopted it, “Bhagwa or the saffron colour renunciation. The white colour denoted the light to the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green colour symbolises our relation to plant life. The Ashoka Chakra in the centre is the wheel of ‘law of dharma’. The wheel also denotes ‘motion’. There is life in movement. India must move and go forward”. The Tricolour is a common factor of inspiration for every Indian it is indeed a true expression of pride for our mother land.
It is true that we were once under the British rule, but that does not mean that we will follow all their practices, and eventually end up disrespecting our national flag. Yes, we can definitely express our aggression and anger according to our ‘right to expression’, but that does not mean that we will simply insult our national symbols like the national flag or the national anthem. Some people light-heartedly make cartoons so as to mark it as a satire for our country, but some people are too rigid to take this lightly. There is nothing wrong in presenting our flag in any cartoon, until and unless one is not insulting our national flag. We have our right to express what we feel, and it includes the use of our national symbols also. Yes, we ought to respect our national symbols, but we can take help of the symbols as and when required.
If done properly, there is no restriction on the display of the National Flag by common people, private organisation or educational institutions. Consistent with the dignity and honour of the Flag as detailed in the Flag Code of India, anyone may hoist/display the National Flag on all days and occasions, ceremonials or otherwise. Even Sachin Tendulkar, who is loved by Indians all over the country and the world, was subject to considerable criticism for cutting the cake that represented India’s national symbol. Similar controversy surrounded Mandira Bedi, a popular TV personality, when she wore a saree depicting the Indian Flag for a cricketing event and appeared on live television. Cartoons that play around with the national flag feature quite regularly in a variety of British newspapers like The Sun, The Daily Telegraph. I feel that through the cartoons and caricatures, important, thought-provoking issues are being brought up such as female feticide, caste problems, illiteracy, poverty, government faults etc.
Our Constitution says that the Flag must not be embroidered or printed on cushions, napkins, etc. On the other hand, British flag is allowed to be printed on cushions, and is commonly used as a print on handkerchiefs, caps and shirts. In India, national symbols represent the country’s sovereignty and integrity. For the same reason, it is an established law that you cannot use the national symbols for any purpose, whether personal or commercial, unless you are specifically authorized to do so by the process of law. This show how rigid is the mentality of our countrymen. They usually tend to aggravate even a small issue. The people feel so insecure that we see sedition everywhere, even in a humble cartoon !
The most impressive rules are that of countries like Norway, Denmark and Japan, where the people allow their own flags to be burnt or caricatured, but won’t stand for it if that were to happen to a foreign flag on their soil. In India, the people are just too over-reactive and sensitive about their belongings, including the National Flag. Especially the political leaders are quite conscious about who, why, when and where is making their cartoons and publishing them. For example, political figure Mamta Banerjee got the Jadavpur University’s chemistry professor behind the bars, because he made her cartoon !! I totally agree to the idea of throwing satires on these political figures through cartoons, because this is something, I feel personally, that can make them realise what they are actually doing to our country in the name of “Government”. But the leaders unnecessarily bring up the topic of Flag in cartoons, shift the attention and get the artistes locked up !
In this context, the author Dipankar Gupta comments, “It is a fact that India is pretty sensitive towards political cartoons, especially involving the Flag. As we pride ourselves for following the Westminster model, and for being the world’s largest democracy, surely best practices in places like Britain should have been our guide.” Therefore, I personally feel that there should not be any problem in using the national flag for any other purpose, till it is being respected and not misused in any way.
“It is our flag and we all must respect it, love it, and above all fly it”- by Naveen Jindal