It has been 75 years since India’s pseudo-independence. Since last year, the Modi government has been conducting various cultural programmes and competitions across the country in the name of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. Following this, Modi announced the “Har Ghar Tiranga” (Tricolour in every house). The aim of this project was to hoist the national flag in 20 crore households.
Every citizen of the country has to hoist the national flag in their homes for three days from August 13 to 15; they should take selfies with the national flag and upload them on the internet; Modi urged the people that the national flag’s picture should be put up on their profile pictures on social media pages.
In his address, Modi noted that these measures will further strengthen our relationship with the Tricolour.
Amendments were made to the Flag Code to allow the flag to be hoisted at all times, day and night, in individual homes and commercial establishments, in accordance to the flag hoisting event.
The objective of the house-to-house flag hoisting programme is to inculcate patriotism in the minds of citizens and to create awareness about the national flag, according to the Ministry of Culture.
Lit up of ‘Patriotic torch’
Many celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Rajinikanth, Vijay Devarakonda, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Tendulkar and many others promoted this event by uploading selfie videos of them hoisting the flag. Around 6 crore selfies were uploaded on the harghartiranga.com website, which was launched to upload selfies.
The BJP also held campaign rallies across the country demanding flag hoisting at homes. The project has been celebrated grandly in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath participated in the national flag rally along with school children and also held a bike rally.
Chief Ministers of other BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have also held national flag rallies in their respective states. BJP leaders, including Smriti Irani and Piyush Goyal, have held campaign rallies in Delhi. The national flag has been hoisted after a gap of 52 years in Nagpur, the headquarters of the RSS.
Apart from the BJP, parties like he Congress, Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have also held national flag rallies.
Thus people were flooded with ‘patriotism’ due to series of campaigns carried out by the RSS-BJP, well-known celebrities and the ruling class media.
There were reports that a large number of people hoisted the national flag in their homes beyond the announced target of 20 crore. Modi said he was happy and proud that the scheme has received such a great response from the people.
But was it true that the working people of this country were able to celebrate this day with the same joy? Or is it only an exaggeration by the ruling class media? Is freedom flying high in our country to the extent of celebrating Independence Day? We have to ask such questions. We will look for answers by looking through this day of celebration.
Does freedom and swadeshi exist?
The Flag Code was amended before the scheme of hoisting the national flag at homes was announced. Before the amendment, only hand-woven and hand-spun flags made of cotton, silk, wool or Khadi were allowed. But now, flag made of polyester or machine-made flags have been allowed.
With this amendment, the Modi government has destroyed the subsistence of our country’s weavers. Instead of giving the tenders for making the flag to the handloom companies, it has given to major powerloom companies in Gujarat and to the Chinese companies.
Flags imported from China have also been used in flags sold on the occasion of ‘Independence Day’. Patel’s statue worth Rs 3,000 crore is already China-made. Now, the national flag is also made in China, as per Modi’s choice. This has exposed what is the ‘swadeshi’ of the Modi government, which we often hear in his speeches saying “buy domestic goods”.
On the occasion of pseudo-Independence Day, the market value of flags sold in the country’s capital alone is Rs 4-5 crore. Across the country, 2.36 crore national flags were sold between July 1 and August 15. Their market value is Rs 60 crore.
This has not at all benefited the handloom weavers. They did not even receive the orders that they received last year.
The Karnataka Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta Sangha, which made the national flag out of Khadi cloth, has suffered huge losses due to Modi’s amendment to the Flag Code. The company is an ISO-certified company that prepares and supplies the national flag for government events. It is to be noted that most of the workers in the company are women.
“Every year, by the end of July, the Samyukta Sangha would have despatched national flags worth ₹2.5 crore. But thanks to the Centre’s amendment to the National Flag Code allowing flags made of polyester cloth, the Sangha has not even received half the usual orders. So far, it has orders for flags worth just around ₹ 1.2 crore, but the Sangha has raw material stock to supply flags worth ₹5 core. The Samyukta Sangha had set its target high this year in anticipation of a vibrant ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ celebration and procured more raw material”, said Shivanand Mathapathi of the Samyukta Sangha in an interview to the Hindu.
At the end of July, a protest was held on behalf of the association against the amendment to the Flag Code.
“Symbol of Swadeshi and the Ratnam (Charka) on the earlier flag represents handloom weavers. Today, we celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav in a grand manner, but why do we forget the weavers? Why do we forget the reason for the Swadeshi Movement, which was one of the most important parts of our freedom struggle?” questions Pillalamarri Nageswara Rao, vice-president of Andhra Pradesh Chenetha Karmika Sangham.
In Haryana, people who had come to buy rations were threatened that they will get rations only if they pay Rs 20 for the flag. A video of the flag being sold went viral on the social media.
The Uttarakhand BJP chief had threatened by asking photographs of houses that do not hoist the national flag. In some states, education department officials and educational institutions have urged school children to compulsorily hoist the national flag. The parents were agitated that some private schools had sold the flags to the children and made a profit out of it.
BJP’s Sudhir Mungantiwar, Minister of Forest and Culture in Maharashtra, has directed that government officials, while accepting their calls, should say “Vande Mataram” instead of “hello” and observe it till January 26 next year.
A deduction of Rs 38 has been made from the salary of each railway employee for the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign. Government school teachers have been directed to hoist the flag at their homes and take photographs of it and send it on WhatsApp.
The BJP and the media were thrilled – this time we have hoisted the national flag in Kashmir without any untoward incident; the tricolour had also been hoisted at the homes of persons arrested for their alleged links with terrorists. Mehbooba Mufti, however, revealed the fact that people were forced to hoist the flags in their homes and that the celebrations were staged by unleashing repression across Kashmir.
What other name could be used to call these activities instead of calling them ‘violence perpetrated on the people in the name of patriotism’?
Modi, who had announced that he would build houses for all in the country by the end of 2022, is now vacating the existing huts.
In recent times, the trend of the underprivileged people, who have built the country’s metropolises, being driven out of their homes in the name of smart cities has intensified.
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has issued notices to demolish houses in Gyaspur Basti and Kasturba Nagar, where the downtrodden people live in Delhi. The people of the area have also staged a protest on August 12 against the demolition of their houses. “How can we hoist the flag when our houses are being demolished?” they reasonably questioned.
On one hand, the smart city project is evacuating the residential areas of the downtrodden. On the other hand, the homes of Muslims fighting against the fascistic oppression of the RSS-BJP are being razed to the ground by bulldozers. Is this the smell of freedom?
A nine-year-old school boy had been killed for drinking water from a pot in Surana village of Jalore district of Rajasthan. Chail Singh, a teacher, beat up the dalit boy after he drank water from a pot kept for drinking by the dominant castes. The boy, who battled for his life, died on August 14.
On one hand, when people were drowned in the Independence Day celebrations, the dalits and democratic forces were posting comments on social media condemning the casteist brutality.
Across the country, casteist honour killings and attacks on dalits are on the rise under the rule of the saffron mobs. Does freedom exists in a society where caste attacks and killings are a daily occurrence? The day of freedom from caste oppression will be the day of independence for the oppressed!
The BJP-led Gujarat government has released the perpetrators of the gang-rape of a Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano, during the Gujarat riots, on the grounds of ‘good conduct’ on the eve of Independence Day.
Isn’t it a challenge for women to live in a country that is providing freedom to rapists and fascist terrorists? How can this day be a day of celebration for us?
Why this patriotic makeover
Nationalism is the haven of the fascists, and in that sense, the 75th pseudo-Independence Day celebration has given the RSS-BJP an opportunity to cover up their anti-people activities by smearing the people with patriotism.
What kind of nationalism do the fascists propagate among the masses? People love and celebrate our country and the revolutionary history of our country. Therefore, the fascists who hold on to it as it exists give fascistic context to the patriotism of the people. They are putting the interests of crores of working people at odds with the nation.
Rising prices, unemployment, deprivation of livelihoods by pro-corporate schemes, fascists’ attacks on minorities are not national tragedies; beyond that, there is nationalism and national pride – This is the nationalism propounded by the fascists. The ‘Nation First’ campaign put forward by the RSS-BJP belongs to that category.
This philosophy can be understood very vividly if one recalls that when the green fields of the Tanjore delta were burning with hydrocarbons, L. Ganesan said, “A village has to be sacrificed for the nation.”
Through the various activities that it undertakes among the people, the BJP creates an impression among the people that it is the party for the nation and its leader the strongest leader of the nation; Afterwards, the people should accept whatever the party and its leader say without any questions under the name of national interest.
The Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations and the Har Ghar Tiranga were planned in that way. It is the main task of the revolutionary-democratic forces to immediately expose and defeat these attempts of the fascists.