Of the Community, By the Community, For the Community


18 Aug, 2022

On August 13, while felicitating the Indian athletes who participated in the 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi touched upon the role of the Tricolour as a driving force in fostering unity and pride. Addressing the athletes, the PM said that irrespective of the state, district, or village they belong to, their overwhelming desire is to perform their best for India. The PM pointed out that the Tricolour served as a protective shield for those stranded in Ukraine (and were evacuated under the flag). It became a symbol of protection and safety not only for Indians, but also for people of other countries who were evacuated from the battlefield by the Indian government.

Nations that celebrate together bond together. Therefore, the role of festivals in acting as a strong bond, uniting the people of India, cannot be overstated. Moreover, national days such as Independence Day play a massive role in reminding us of the struggles and sacrifices our forefathers made to overthrow the British colonial empire. With the successful completion of the Har Ghar Tiranga (a Tricolour in every home) campaign between August 13 and 15, this is an opportune moment to analyse why the programme resonated with citizens.

Over the last few months, various ministries of the central government, state governments, local bodies, non-governmental organisations, self-help groups, private organisations and citizens have been working towards making the Har Ghar Tiranga, a Jan Bhagidari campaign — a national citizen’s movement — with maximum community participation. The role of governments has been that of facilitators — making appropriate changes to the flag code, ensuring the supply chain produces more than 200 million flags, and that these flags are available to every citizen. But it is the role of the citizen that needs to be acknowledged and applauded.

Indians are inherently patriotic, and our national flag evokes pride, respect, and love. At the same time, in a true democracy, people cannot be forced to celebrate events through unilateral government orders. Instead, people participate when they feel connected with the idea. Therefore, the success of Har Ghar Tiranga embodies the inherent patriotism of every Indian as symbolised in the Tiranga.

Most citizens believe that the government is empathetic and willing to do everything possible to provide basic infrastructure — toilets, housing, tap water, health care, roads, and telecom, air and banking services. These are being provided not only in cities but across smaller towns and villages. The poor have seen that the government has put in its best efforts to ensure that the supply of food and basic amenities are not disrupted during the pandemic, and the world has acknowledged the Indian government’s handling of the pandemic as one of the best. Every Indian now knows that the government will do whatever it takes to protect them anywhere in the world, whether in Yemen or Ukraine.

At the same time, Indians are also aware that we have a government willing to acknowledge its shortcomings and work harder to address them. At no time since Independence have more Indians felt that the nation is heading in the right direction than today. Not surprisingly then, Har Ghar Tiranga evoked an outpouring of expression and a sense of immense pride in the country. Regardless of their economic status, there is an inherent sense of optimism among people that India can grow to be one of the world’s most developed countries, with economic prosperity reaching its millions.

India is a land of festivals that reflect the country’s diverse culture. Traditional Indian festivals such as Dussehra, Ganesh Chaturthi, Pongal, Bonalu, Diwali, Durga Puja, Chhath Puja and many others are celebrated by entire communities. Many of these festivals are celebrated over many days before culminating in a grand finale, during which time the community unitedly performs activities that bond them. We must also remember that this is done without significant government support and is a community initiative.

It is striking to note that across India, people adopted a similar approach to celebrating the Har Ghar Tiranga initiative. Drawing from their own lived experiences of celebrating our traditional festivals, the event evolved into a series of community-based activities and programmes. It became inclusive and had avenues for everybody to participate — debates, poster-making for children and students, bike rallies and flash mobs for the youth, and prabhat pheris (early morning rounds) and cultural programmes for adults and senior citizens. The Har Ghar Tiranga campaign tapped into the traditional community festival-based syntax and semantics of the Indian people and this is a crucial reason for its success.

Many people participated enthusiastically in the programme and adopted it as their own. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kibithu to Kutch, one could see the infectious energy and the sense of ownership with which India participated in the movement. This can be attributed to what the flag signifies to every Indian.

It could mean different things to different people. It signifies opportunities and hope for a brighter tomorrow for the youth and also women. It encourages and inspires sportspersons to push harder in pursuit of glory for the country. It sends a message to our soldiers that a country of 1.38 billion is behind them, and praying for their well-being. But all meaning eventually converges towards optimism and hope for the future of the country.

The government’s performance over the last eight years gave the Har Ghar Tiranga initiative much-needed credibility, and the PM’s call to reach out to millions of Indians, led to near-universal participation from all walks of life. As in the past, be it in the Give It Up Campaign where the PM urged people who do not require LPG subsidies to give them up or in asking Indians to pay their respects to the Covid-19 frontline workers, this time too, the aam janta responded positively to the PM's clarion call with more than 6 crore selfies with the National flag and almost near universal participation. This made the celebration of India’s 75 years of Independence a true festival — of the Indian community, by the Indian community, and for the Indian community.


(G Kishan Reddy is Union minister of culture, tourism and development of Northeastern Region and represents the Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency)