Skip to main content

Gujarat chief minister "declines" to accept Dalits' largest-ever National Flag, emissary says: "We don't have facility"

The tractor carrying the National Flag
By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has declined to accept the largest-ever National Flag, prepared by Dalit students and teachers of the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), the Dalit empowerment centre, founded by top rights activist Martin Macwan in 1999 to train girls and boys from marginalized communities in technical skills.
A Rupani emissary, who met Dalit rights activists from 26 Gujarat districts on behalf of the chief minister in Gandhinagar, gave in writing that the state government “does not have the requisite facility” to keep a 125 feet long, 83.3 feet wide National Flag all the way from DSK, about 50 km away.
“Once such a facility is created, we would approach you and take the National Flag”, the hand-written letter, a copy of which has been forwarded to Counterview, said. The length of the National Flag represents the 125th anniversary of top Dalit icon and father of the country’s constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar.
The large-sized supda, in which one-line
memorandum to CM was placed
Sources in the state government said, since Rupani “did not have the time to receive the National Flag, he directed the district collector, Gandhinagar, to meet the Dalit activists.” The activists had come in a vehicles rally from DSK, situated off Sanand town in Ahmedabad district. The National Flag was brought in a tractor.
When contacted, Macwan told Counterview, “First we were conveyed that only five persons would be allowed to meet the district collector, deputed by the chief minister. When we insisted that the official should come down to us, as it was a question of giving respect the National Flag, they agreed with our suggestion to allow us to carry the National Flag in tractor to the district collector’s office and meet one representative each from 26 districts.”
He added, “When the 26 Dalit representatives met the collector, they were told that they did not have the facility to keep such a big National Flag. When they insisted to give this in writing, a district collectorate official, mamlatdar, Gandhinagar, gave us in writing that, once they had the necessary facility, they approach us.”
The big National Flag, created at DSK
Angry Dalit representatives, who had come from Gujarat’s rural areas, reacted sharply, wondering how it could be that the state government does not have the facility to keep India’s largest national flag, when they could spend Rs 3,000 crore to build the world’s tallest 182 metre high statue of Sardar Patel at Narmada dam. “The argument is specious”, said one.
The National Flag, which has been brought back to DSK, was prepared by Dalits students and teachers after spending 25 days. It is made of khadi, which is generally woven by the Vankar sub-caste of Dalits. Its designing, colouring and sewing was done by students, mainly girls, with the help of teachers.
Govt reply on left side
The Ashok Chakra is interpreted by Macwan as symbolizing social equality. Equality is one of the 12 basic principles of Lord Buddha, and the spokes in the Ashok Chakra represent exactly that. “By offering the National Flag to the chief minister, we wanted to remind him about his constitutional duty to annihilate caste”, he said.
Even as declining to accept he National Flag, the chief minister’s emissary accepted from the Dalit activists a large-sized supda (winnowing basket), which carried a one-line memorandum, asking Rupani to name one Gujarat village untouchability free on the Independence day, August 15. “We will hand it over to the chief minister”, the Dalits were told.

Comments

Gagan Sethi, chair, Janvikas said…
I am aghast that the Government of Gujarat does not have space for preserving the National Flag. I am ready to rent at a space in any of my institutions at the nominal rate of 25 paisa per month for safeguarding the National Flag and maintaining its dignity. Any political party willing to accept the offer is welcome to accept the flag.

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…

Historic Chikhalda, temples, mosques submerged, activists 'rescue' Gandhi idol

By Medha Patkar
The first farmer of Asia was born in Chikhalda, if one is to believe archaeological researchers. A historic village, 50 percent of its population is of Hindus and 50 percent of Muslims, yet it has always remained peaceful. Chikhalda has struggled to save water, land and people along Narmada river.

South Gujarat wastewater carrying pipeline damaged, 'harming' farmlands

By Our Representative
The pipeline carrying industrial wastewater to the Gulf of Khambhat from Jhagadia industrial estate in Bharuch district has been found to have damaged for the eighth time over the last one and a half months. The crack, says a local environmental organisation, has occurred at Hansot, endangering agricultural farms.