Fearing retrenchment, Karnataka Khadi Sangha employees to protest against amendments to National Flag Code

Modi govt amended National Flag Code and allowed polyester flags last year. Employees of Karnataka Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta Sangha fear this move will render them jobless

The national flag fluttering atop Parliament
The national flag fluttering atop Parliament
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Vishwadeepak

At a time when the Modi government has launched “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign as part of the “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,” about 45,000 people working in different units of Karnataka Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS) have decided to launch a day long protest against the amendments to the National Flag Code due to fear of being retrenched.

The KKGSS employees will sit on a symbolic protest on July 27 all over the state, said one of the organizers of the protest.

The Modi government amended the National Flag Code and allowed polyester flags last year. It was further amended through an order on July 20, permitting people to fly the national flag day and night.

KKGSS employees fear they will be rendered jobless once the production of polyester flags starts.

Talking to National Herald, KGSS general secretary Shivanand Mathapathi said that the polyester flags will be cheaper and can be produced in large scale using machines. He said big companies will replace the Khadi handlooms in the coming times.

“We have not received half of the order this year. Usually by the end of July, the Sangha would have dispatched national flags worth Rs 2.5 crore. It has received orders worth just around Rs 1.2 crore this year,” Mathapathi said while talking over the phone from Dharwad, Karnataka.

Claiming that the Sangha had raw material stock to supply flags worth Rs 5 crore, Mathapathi said employees are also unhappy because they feel the amendment “had trivialised the sanctity of the tricolour”.

“Khadi is a symbol of national pride and self-sustenance…Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel and other great freedom fighters were all in favour of khadi. We leave our slippers outside and enter the khadi units, particularly the flag unit. But the government seems to have no respect for the tricolour,” Mathapathi said.

He said making the national flag with polyester cloth amounted to demeaning the national flag.

It is worth mentioning here that flags manufactured by the KKGSS are hoisted atop the Red Fort, Parliament and Rashtrapati Bhawan apart from other government offices and buildings on August 15 and 26 January every year.

It manufactures only nine specified sizes of the flag mentioned under the Flag Code.

Seeking withdrawal of the amendment, KKGSS wrote to the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah also but no response had been received so far, Mathapathi said.

A copy of the letter was also submitted to the Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi also who represents Dharwad Lok Sabha seat where the flag production units are located. But he too has not uttered a single word on the issue so far, which has annoyed the people working at KKGSS.

Mathapathi told NH that women will also participate in the protest against the amendment at the Samyukta Sangha in Hubballi.

Asked about the course of action if the amendment was not withdrawn, Mathapathi said that the agitation will be intensified if the “apathy continues”.

In all, as per the KKGSS, around 1,200 persons, mainly women, are involved in the national flag manufacturing work in over 15 units of the Sangha spread across the districts of Dharwad and Bagalkot.

While the flag manufacturing units are located in Bengeri in Hubballi district, where the work of stitching, printing and dyeing takes place, the khadi cloth is spun and woven in khadi units at Bagalkot.

The Khadi Sangha of Dharwad district is a separate unit where the khadi cloth for the flag is woven, but it has currently stopped production.

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    Published: 25 Jul 2022, 7:49 PM