Colours of freedom

The only organisation officially licensed to make the Tiranga holds aloft the founding spirit of the nation

Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha

Courage, Sacrifice, Purity, Truth, Growth and Fertility — the colours of the Indian flag stand for these. Undoubtedly, every citizen feels a certain pride in it, but how well do we really know our Tricolour? 

A few weeks before August 15 every year, the market is flooded with the tiranga in countless sizes made out of all kinds of materials (paper, plastic or several kinds of fabric). But not many know that there is a set of rules that has deemed these practices illegal. According to the Flag Code of India, 2002, the Tiranga can only be made using hand spun or hand woven wool, cotton, silk and khadi bunting in nine specific sizes named in the code. There’s more. It should be rectangular and with a ratio of 3:2 and the thread count and strength of yarn and fastness of colours used for dyeing also have to be taken into account. While it notes that any violation of the code can be punished with fines and/or imprisonment, we know that it’s hardly implemented.

To ensure that these guidelines are followed, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has given permission to only one co-operation that enjoys a vote of confidence from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). In Karnataka’s Hubli, about 1,200 people make the Indian flag adhering to the Flag Code, commissioned by the Centre. They belong to the Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS), a federation that was founded in 1957 by a group of Gandhians. These flags are sent to the pan-Indian populace via Khadi Bhandars (stores) located in different cities and countries such as USA and Russia, via embassies in these countries.

According to Shivanand Mathapati, secretary of the KKGSS, inspections are conducted every month or once in two months to ensure that the organisation is living up to the manufacturing standards. This involves laboratory testing. A second round of testing takes place in the khadi outlets across the country before these flags are sold.

“We got the BIS certification in 2005,” says Mathapati. The company has a “no loss, no profit” setup and has a revenue target of #30 million for current financial year. “We have already reached #15 million since April, and are confident of reaching the target,” he adds.

The father of the nation once said, “A national spirit is necessary for national existence. A flag is a material aid to the development of such spirit.” KKGSS is fostering that spirit through its flags by employing thousands of people in the rural region, while also promoting Gandhi’s vision of prosperity and freedom through the spinning of the charkha.