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Flogged Flag Weave
Salute the flag, but care for the weavers as well

As we approach Independence Day, an unbearable ennui prevails in the country. From the jubilation surrounding the nostalgia of the freedom struggle, new aspirations would arise. Thousands of flags would flutter, marking India’s tryst with destiny. Behind the flags that mark the dignity of the nation, several stories are crying out to be heard, like the abject penury of the people who weave them.

Almost unknown to millions of Indians remains the fact that flag making in the country was standardised by the Bureau of Indian Standards in 1951.Since then, there are strict official standards that have to be adhered to. A defect in the manufacturing of the flag is considered to be a punishable offence. The specifications include size, chromatic values and even thread count. It must be pointed out here that the Indian flag has to have 150 threads per square centimetre and four threads per stitch. Khadi remains the only officially authorised material for the flag. Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the only authority that awards licenses for flag manufacturing.

In this heavily centralised and regulated atmosphere of flag manufacturing in the country, the philosophy enshrined in the symbol of the national flag is lost. KVIC remains ill-equipped to handle the staggering annual demand of almost 40 million flags in the country. Those weavers who manage to get licences Indian flags remain mired in poverty due to a number of regulations. The result of such myopic policies has been that the strict codes either meet minimal acceptance or the cotton based flags flood the market (cutting into the market share of Khadi woven flags). Ironically, not more than 10% of the demand for flags in the country is met by the Khadi flags.

The time is ripe for the easing up of strict regulations. Modern promotional avenues are also required for the weavers of the Khadi flags to tap the huge flag market.

Kumar Anuj

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