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January 22, 2002
2100 IST
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Sales of the Indian flag yet to pick up

Basharat Peer in New Delhi.

The common Indian may have been allowed to fly the national flag throughout the year, thanks to businessman Naveen Jindal's battle for the right, but this has not yet set off a mad rush to buy the Tricolour.

The reason could be the price for patriotism. The national flags available in various sizes at the Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan cost between Rs 245 for a 2 feet by 3 feet flag to Rs 1,840 for a 6 feet by 9 feet one.

"Our sales of the national flag have gone up by 20-25 per cent recently," says Karnail Singh, director, Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan, which has been selling the authorised versions of the national flag since its establishment in 1955. However, officials do not attribute the increase in sales to the government decision to lift restrictions on displaying the Tricolour.

"The rise in the sales of the national flag is a regular occurrence during days preceding the Republic Day or the Independence Day. The current spurt has not been really due to the recent order giving the common man the right to fly a flag anytime," says a Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan official. "It has just made a minor difference," he added.

In the past, buyers of the Tricolour were mostly government offices, schools and the common man on the Independence and the Republic days.

Officials, however, are out to push for higher sales of the Tricolour. To attract more Indians to buy the flag and hoist it at their homes, Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan has come out with a smaller flag, priced at a convenient Rs 90.

"We have lowered the price tag and launched the 'common man's flag', as we want to reach out to the average Indian. No citizen should stop himself from hoisting a flag in his house just because it is expensive," says Karnail Singh.

To make this plan a success, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission -- the parent organisation of the director - will soon launch a public awareness campaign over the Tricolour. The campaign is aimed at telling the people where and at what prices is the Tricolour available.

"Many Indians who would like to get a flag may not know where to buy it. We want to remove that gap and encourage more and more people to buy the flag," Singh said.

To cope with the demand that the Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan officials feel would increase with time, they are looking at potential manufacturers of the national flag.

"We are identifying agencies in India who manufacture the Tricolour according to the specifications set by the Bureau of Indian Standards," said another official.

Officials also stated that the manufacture of the Tricolour will be a totally 'indigenous affair' and will not be done by any foreign company or multi-national.

My flag, my country
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