Every year, school and college students flock to the markets before Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations, to purchase scale-sized national flags and badges and declare their love for the country.
However, once the celebrations are over, it is a known fact that most of these flags find their way to the garbage bins or flutter about across the streets. It is quite disheartening to witness the very totem of Indian nationality, pride, and honour being relegated to such a treatment.
This discourteous attitude falls in line with Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, which considers the burning, mutilation, defacing, defilement, disfigurement, destruction and trampling of the national flag in any public place or any other place within public view, a punishable offence.
What is more worrisome is the fact that these mass-produced flags are made of plastic and are non-biodegradable, and discarding them becomes an environmental concern.
To tackle these issues ahead of Republic Day, the Ministry of Home Affairs has urged the citizens to avoid using plastic flags. It has also directed the state governments, union territories and secretaries of all ministries and departments to ensure that hereafter, every essential national, cultural and sports event is carried forth in strict compliance with the provisions of the Flag Code of India, 2002, and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
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Through an advisory, the ministry has stated that while the national flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of the country and deserves to occupy a position of honour, it has been observed that during important events, national flags made of plastic were being used in place of paper flags.
“As plastic flags are not biodegradable like paper flags, they do not get decomposed for a long time and ensuring appropriate disposal commensurate with the dignity of the Tricolour is a practical problem,” the advisory said.
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Furthermore, the ministry has advised the government bodies and agencies to ensure that only paper flags are used and that these must be privately disposed after use, instead of being discarded or thrown on the ground after the culmination of the event.
These institutions have also been directed to extensively broadcast the message in public forums that will educate people to avoid using plastic flags.
“There is universal affection and respect for and loyalty to the national flag, but a perceptible lack of awareness is often noticed amongst the people as well as government organisations on laws, practices and conventions that apply to the “display of the national flag,” the advisory said.
This Republic Day, display your genuine love for the country by refraining from using cheap, plastic flags and switch to paper flags or badges. This way, not only will you help in keeping the environment clean, but also promote the spirit of nationalism.