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Modi 'diktat' on tricolour for RSS-BJP cadres to 'prove' their allegiance to the nation?

By Sandeep Pandey* 

The Bhartiya Janata Party government appeared to have issued a “diktat” – that every house should fly the national flag on the 75th anniversary of the Independence day when India celebrated on August 15. The government took the responsibility to make the flags available. The Uttar Pardesh government proposed to spend Rs 40 crore to procure 2 crore flags. Remaining 2.5 crore flags were to be sourced from Self Help Groups, government and private organizations.
The Government decided to ignore its self-reliant and Make in India slogans to import flags as they could not be made in such large numbers in a short time. Obviously only a big company could provide such large numbers. China was found to be the cheapest source to place an order with. Imagine we were made to fly national flags Made in China, considered our enemy, which has forcibly encroached upon our land. What kind of patriotism is this -- to fly flags made in an enemy country?
Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of BJP, in any case doesn’t believe in the tricolor. They think three colours are a bad omen. When the Indian National Congress issued a call to celebrate independence day on 26 January, 1930 by flying the tricolor after adopting a resolution in favour of Purna Swaraj on 19 December, 1929 in their convention, RSS chief Hedgewar issued instructions to fly the saffron flag instead.
RSS believes in a one nation, one constitution, one flag, etc. idea. It is the RSS which has to decide whether it considers the saffron or the tricolor as its national flag. Hence, one wonders if the call by the Prime Minister to fly the tricolor on independence day was probably for the RSS-BJP workers who should prove their allegiance to the nation. Extraordinary zealousness towards the tricolor was on display also because the Hindutva brigade wants to wash off its sins for having kept away from the freedom struggle.
Is it enough to merely fly the tricolor to prove one’s patriotism? A lot of people who indulge in unethical behaviour go and make an offering in a temple. Will they be considered religious? A true patriot will be one who does something concrete for the country.
In corona period a number of parents are finding it difficult to pay the fees of their children, people are struggling to get medical treatment for family members, number of people have either lost their jobs or their incomes have been slashed. It would have been better if, instead of flying the flag, people were encouraged to help some needy family. That would have been a true service to the nation.
Flying a flag is a symbolic act. If people feel complacent by doing this, how is it going to strengthen our society or nation? Hence this symbolic act is misleading as it is very superficial. If we think that, while discrimination on the basis of class, caste, religion, gender, etc. goes on, atrocities and exploitation continue, corruption is overlooked, by flying the tricolor we’ve done our job then we’re betraying ourselves.
Just imagine this government which claims to be nationalist is helping the foreign companies. One one hand we consider China our enemy but on the other hand our business with China is ever-growing from which China benefits more than we do. The UP government, which has a temple monk as its chief executive, is making money by allowing sale of liquor. The shop for foreign liquor is more attractive and probably they have bonanza sales.
The infrastructure and public sector created by past governments, which is often the target of Narendra Modi for any failure in the present, are being sold by the present government to its favourite industrialists. There is a well known businessman, Subrata Roy. In front of his headquarters in Lucknow he has built a huge statue of Mother India. His company once created a world record for maximum number of people (his employees) singing the national anthem. Now we know what he did with the common people’s money collected as part of his chit fund activity.
Narendra Modi can argue that his capitalist friends are patriots. But how can we be sure that they will not abscond like Vijay Mallaya or Neerav Modi after borrowing money from various banks? What kind of patriotic government is this which is selling the assets of this country at throwaway prices to private entrepreneurs and is allowing foreign companies to exploit the natural resources of our country?
Modi government is not willing to give the farmers 1.5 times their cost of production as a legally guaranteed Minimum Support Price but allows Coca Cola and Pepsi to earn 15-20 times the cost of production on bottled water and take away the profits to Unites States.
Congress called for Purna Swaraj by flying tricolor on January 26, 1930. RSS chief Hedgewar asked cadres to fly saffron flag instead
Even if flying the national flag programme had to be undertaken why was the restriction to make the flags out of khadi removed? At least the artisans of this country would have benefitted. Khadi and village industries sector would have been strengthened. Now we’ll get flags made out of artificial cloth.
Instead of importing the flags students could have been asked to prepare them. In any case many students have been making their own flags by painting in the past too. Every student, individually or collectively, could have been given the responsibility of his/her neighbourhood. That would have been real participation of people instead of a government sponsored event.
An open secret of this country is that whenever there is procurement in bulk there is corruption. Can the Yogi government assure that no commissions would be taken by officials, politicians or middlemen on the purchase of 2 crore flags? The government expects people to be patriotic, even to the extent of being willing to sacrifice their lives if required for the country, but the moneyed class doesn’t leave any opportunity to loot the country.
Government’s Har Ghar Tiranga programme was pretentious. The resources which could have been employed in necessary things were being wasted. The UP government has not reimbursed the fees of Rs 450 per child to children admitted under the Right to Education for free education to private schools for two years and neither has it reimbursed the parents Rs 5,000 to buy books and dress for each child.
Four years back Ramdevi’s house collapsed in rains in village Siddhnath Nai Basti of Unnao district. She has been living in the Panchayat Bhawan ever since and not been allotted a house for her family till date in spite of a much trumpeted housing scheme.
Big claims of open defecation free villages have been made but visit to any village in UP will reveal how many families are not using their toilets either because they still don’t have one or the one they have is not usable. On one hand there is huge problem of unemployment but on the other many schools don’t have adequate teachers and many health centres don’t have enough doctors.
The entire government machinery, keeping aside their important work, was found enforcing the government order of flying a tricolor at every house. This country is slowly becoming a country which believes in ostentation rather than real work.
---
*Magsaysay award winning social activist; general secretary, Socialist Party (India)

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