The tricolour

Some live by it, some die for it, then there are some who wrap themselves with it.

By: Express News Service | Updated: February 20, 2016 1:32 pm
HRD ministry, national flag, national flag at university, HRD ministry national flag, central universities national flag, national flag central universities, smriti irani, jnu, jnu row, india news The adoption of the national flag was a culmination of the struggle for independence — it is symbolic, today, of the people’s assertion and ownership of their sense of freedom. (Source: PTI file photo)

What could be an act more uncontroversial, more unexceptionable, than flying the national flag “prominently and proudly” in a public place in this country, more so on a campus, where the young forge the future? Yet, the decision to do so, taken by the heads of Central universities, on their respective campuses, strikes a note that jars. Consider this: The decision was taken in a meeting called mainly to discuss the issue of discrimination on campus, framed starkly by the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, after he was hounded by a university administration and government that had labelled a protest undertaken by him as “anti-national”. It comes in the backdrop of the ongoing unrest on the JNU campus and spilling outside it, over the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar for alleged sedition, for which no evidence has yet been presented, and which has been followed by vigilante violence by thuggish mobs of lawyers against students, journalists and Kanhaiya himself in the court premises, even as the police looked on. The decision to fly the tricolour on campus comes amid a toxic public debate in free-fall, featuring forged video evidence and a parody Hafiz Saeed Twitter account, in which the allegation of “anti-nationalism” is used as an argument-stopper and the BJP’s rhetoric sets out a Tebbit test of its own — “are you not encouraging anti-national forces by supporting such shameful anti-national activities,” asked BJP chief Amit Shah in a blog, not just of Rahul Gandhi but of critics of Kanhaiya’s arrest in general. The tricolour decision was the outcome of a meeting chaired by Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani, whose ministry hectored Hyderabad Central University into taking action against Rohith, and who sought to justify Kanhaiya’s arrest on an apparently flimsy charge by announcing that the country would not tolerate an insult to “Bharat Mata”.

In this context, the resolve to fly the tricolour on the Central university campus — incidentally, it already flies on several campuses, without government diktat — smacks of the Modi government’s attempt to use it as cover for squelching the voices of debate and dissent. Worse, coming as it does in a moment when the freedom of expression seems growingly beseiged, it disrespects the very thing it claims to honour. The adoption of the national flag was a culmination of the struggle for independence — it is symbolic, today, of the people’s assertion and ownership of their sense of freedom. The Supreme Court recognised this when, in 2004, it liberated it from stuffy government protocols and allowed individual citizens to claim it and hoist it. It said: The “right to fly the national flag freely with respect and dignity is a fundamental right of a citizen within the meaning of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India, being an expression and manifestation of his allegiance and feelings and sentiments of pride for the nation”.

By seeking to wrap itself in the national flag, as it stands on the wrong side of a building confrontation between those who seek to protect the citizen’s constitutional right to freedom of speech and those who would curb it in the name of nationalism, the government does a disservice not just to its mandate, but above all, to the tricolour.

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    Yogesh Sharma
    Feb 20, 2016 at 11:03 am
    Now anti-tricolour lobby is raising the cost of the flag argument which is only 45 lakhs. Cost for national flag is a non-issue. Its very little. Thousands of crores are wasted on education but there is hardly any education left. FTII, HcU, IIT Chennai, JNU, AMU, Osmania, Jamia, Jadhavpur University etc., are always in for strike, dharna, ghrao, occupy sit inns, violance, fests, beef festvals, hug and kiss fests, fashion shows, fake seminars, confrences, lectures, debates etc., but rarely for education or studies. Teachers are taking ries for no work and students are taking scholarships for no scholarships. At times they are involved in riots, terrorism and anti national activities. So cost of a flag is very minor in comparision to all this.
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      Vijay
      Feb 20, 2016 at 3:26 am
      Bhagvad Gita teaches us that any treachery done for tthe sake of matrubhumi and people living in it is patriotism. When stani Mullas call for defiling hindu women by treachery and love jihad then with same treachery all anti national elements should be wiped out. Treachery alone can fight treachery. Right means fail to confront tthose who uses wrong means for wrong ends. To achieve a righteous end, wrong means must be used in such situation.
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        Vijay
        Feb 20, 2016 at 3:38 am
        Rohith vemula seems a converted Christian used by anti national Christian NGOs as a bait to trouble the democratically elected government in a bid to break india. Read . After reading on this website I realised the extent of this conspiracy. Same is being written by Swarajya magazine. This is a very serious issue.
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          Jacob Samuel
          Feb 20, 2016 at 5:10 am
          Thanks for this brave and very logical Editorial Very finely articulated the real motivation behind the instruction of HRD Minister. In this Juncture Indians really concern with the unity and steady progress of the nation will look forward to insutions like Indian Express to lead them the crusade for the freedom of speech and and human values.
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            anon
            Feb 20, 2016 at 6:18 am
            Orwellian Cabal: JNU- NDTV school of the "TRUTH". Leave your blinkers. Watch humorous vlog on Free Speech warriors on the march by Nitin gupta on youtube. enjoy
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              pankaj
              Feb 20, 2016 at 8:47 pm
              ****************************************************************************************Well if they need to define humanity to understand inhuman behavior and national to understand anti national behavior and social to understand anti social behavior.... They need to sent to psychiatrist if they are above 18 or adult.... And if they ate in teaching profession, their psychiatry cl should be in prison.. Because they are fraud then That simple... ............ ************************************************************************************************* pankaj These people are lool (fool)... Where ever there is a risk to society, it is the duty of state (purpose of existence of state) to create law to protect citizens. Now these people are so shameless they do not understand that to cover risk state doesn't need to define what humanity is or what being nationalist mean... It only needs to define the anti-human or anti-national part that it wants to cover.. What the h-e-l-l is their point? State defines what contempt of court is? What is not contempt, follow and respect the decision........Basically any decision of state through any of its insutions is binding on its citizens, no one can work to undo it, you can debate it but cannot malign state because it is collective and reflects larger society than any group with in state. Did they take pain to explain things or just bunch of leftist politicians aligned with congress and left. a few seconds ago (0) � (0) reply (1) ********************************(******************* ********************************(******************* p pankaj Further liberals do not know how to model all ill effects of letting deception and lies gain foothold in nation and becoming anti national campaigns in a country with such variety and poverty. Somebody needs to instill in them the reason why main stream terrorism is dangerous than fringe. Allowing universities to create and support anti national ideas is to main stream them... We do not care that much for two terrorists in Kashmir or a few Arundhati roy speaking against India everywhere.... But our universities cannot become part of this deceptive Islamist missionary supported anti national propaa
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                pankaj
                Feb 20, 2016 at 8:28 am
                Amazing, such a timid but loud mouth escape from all questions... And pretending to be making some statements of sorts... Hats off to you.. .. In fact shoes too... See if you can still answer that question from Amit Shah are you not encouraging anti-national forces by supporting such shameful anti-national activities,
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                  pankaj
                  Feb 20, 2016 at 8:31 am
                  He definitely was not sure of his ideny that he created for himself..
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                    pankaj
                    Feb 20, 2016 at 5:41 pm
                    We are blessed to have such as*$s among us. That reminds us of all the trouble our ancestors have gone through while dealing with those who invited invaders. Who cares about one time cost of flag... But these pathetic people fear patriotism more than anti nationalism and terrorism. Only their own future generations will be able to teach them good lessons. I am sure most of them do not spend money on buying car or sofas or do any fancy lightings on celebrations and simply donate most of their money to needs. My father had none of these and I still use to donate money all the time. ************************************* I hope we will have better psychological tests in a few years and with lie detectors and those tests we are able to show that these liberals are anti social self and other deceiving compulsive liars.**************
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                      ravi
                      Feb 20, 2016 at 8:27 am
                      "Who is Kasab? Who is Afzal Guru? Who are these people who have reached a point that they are willing to blow themselves up? " (From Kanhaiya Kumar' s speech) So, now Modi has to answer for all the Jihadis who kill innocent people worldover just because they are from other religions! If Kanhaiya becomes PM, will he “change the situation” by m conversions/ murder, which the Jihadis want ?. Ashamed that Kanhaiya Kumar is a product of JNU. To : Kasab Afzal Memon ===== There are many people to remember your death anniversary. But for us, only our family…… Respectfully, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan Major Mukund Varadaraj Col. Santosh Mahadik
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                        sandeep
                        Feb 21, 2016 at 3:21 am
                        Actually internally this Government want to order flying of RSS flag but it afraid of present public reaction.
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                          Som Sharma
                          Feb 20, 2016 at 11:01 am
                          I wonder if this fad of growing a stubble and shouting is peculiar to Indian students or in other countries also. I was a student 64 years ago but never saw such behavior. 25 years ago, my daughter joined Duke university in US. I went there to see her and sta in campus for one week. Never saw students hanging around and gossiping loudly anywhere. There was a big 3 storey library where I could see a lot of them reading. There were 4 tennis courts with lights for playing at night. I saw boys playing at 10 PM in January cold. Or jogging . I was happy to see many had set up bird houses to feed birds or feed squirrels. As a retired elder, I want see students playing sports and having interesting hobbies, apart from studying.
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