“A National Flag” as pointed by Lt. Cdr. K.V. Singh in his book ‘Our National Flag’ is the most solemn symbol of a country. Be it a Head of the State, King or peasant, salutes it. A piece of cloth called the National Flag stands for the whole nation, its honour and glory. When it goes up the Flag mast, “the heart of a true citizen is filled with pride.” Recent notification by Home ministry to ban plastic tricolours is not at all is in interest of common man of the country who feels pride in display of flag. Due to cheap cost and easy availability plastic tricolours are very popular among common man. The ban was taken due to the fact that plastic flags pose a hazard to environment due to ts non-biodegradability. Careless disposal was another ground given for such a ban. But this a dubious ground reason because even paper flags face undignified careless disposal . There has been a increasing number of restrictions imposed on the use and display of the National Flag, an impression has developed among people as if the National Flag is meant for government use only and the people at large are permitted unrestricted display of National Flag only on certain limited occasions. This has probably created a feeling of dissatisfaction among certain sections of people of India. We would remember Mandira Bedi under scanner for wearing a tricolor printed Saree. Even Sachin Tendulkar and Sania Mirza have been accused of insulting the flag.
With the electronic media and satellite communication becoming popular, it is very difficult to ensure that public display of the National Flag is avoided. For instance, in various international sports or cultural events, people identify themselves with their country by displacing the National Flag on clothes, painting on body, by using props and other materials. It is an expression of pride. It is an expression of genuine enthusiasm. If the restrictions imposed on the use of the National Flag are implemented scrupulously, it would amount to discouraging the Indian citizens or Indian nationals from identifying themselves with the Flag of the country.
Countries like Canada and Brazil allow free use of the Flag by individuals, with the only rider being that the Flag is treated with dignity and respect and flown and displayed properly. In China, the Flag can be displayed even on New Year’s Day, Spring Festival and in public places such as squares and parks. Further, even in Malaysia, there is no restriction on the flying of the Flag. The Flag can be put on cars and even on the inside of cars and Flags are almost all over the place. The Malaysians use stickers with the National Flag and inscriptions ‘proud to be Malaysian.’
The restrictions imposed on the use of the National Flag should be commensurate with the international practices being adopted by various democratic countries and the government should not impose any restriction, which distances people from the National Flag. The point here is that people don’t intend to insult the tricolor intentionally. There are simply too many restrictions that it becomes hard to keep track of the numerous provisions governing and following them all the time. Its time that the Home ministry should simplify the law governing the use of Indian Flag.