Har Ghar Tiranga: Angry Garag residents in Dharwad boycott campaign, protest change in flag code

Garag village, synonymous with the khadi tricolur, has stopped production now owing to lack of material. The villagers and unit workers are angry with the change in flag code

Updated - August 10, 2022 02:59 pm IST

Published - August 10, 2022 10:03 am IST - HUBBALLI

The weaving section of the Garag Kshetriya Seva Sangha’s khadi production centre at Garag village in Dharwad taluk, which has now suspended production.

The weaving section of the Garag Kshetriya Seva Sangha’s khadi production centre at Garag village in Dharwad taluk, which has now suspended production. | Photo Credit: GIRISH PATTANASHETTI

When the tricolour flutters atop households on August 15, marking the 75th year of India’s independence, the residents of Garag village in Dharwad taluk will not join the celebrations. They are upset with the decision to allow flags of polyester and mill cloth, which has consequently forced the Garag khadi unit, synonymous with the tricolour, to suspend production.

Boycott of Har Ghar Tiranga campaign
Boycott of Har Ghar Tiranga campaign in Garag village in Dharwad taluk of Karnataka. | Video Credit: The Hindu

Every year when the khadi tricolour fluttered atop high masts on independence day, the residents of Garag village felt proud as it was the cloth manufactured in their village that had gone into the making of the national flag. This year, however, even the ready flag cloth in the Khadi unit has not been procured by the KVIC for flag production.

Also read:Khadi units in doldrums as costs shoot up, raw material grows scarce

The village residents have already submitted in writing their decision to not hoist flag of any cloth to express their displeasure over amendment to the flag code.

 “This decision was taken in consultation with the elders of the village and it has already been communicated to authorities. We consider allowing any material other than Khadi a disgrace to the national flag itself,” said Kiran Bulbule, clarifying that they were not against Har Ghar Tiranga campaign but against using non-khadi flags.

The weaving section of the Garag Kshetriya Seva Sangha’s khadi production centre at Garag village in Dharwad taluk, which has now suspended production.

The weaving section of the Garag Kshetriya Seva Sangha’s khadi production centre at Garag village in Dharwad taluk, which has now suspended production. | Photo Credit: GIRISH PATTANASHETTI

“When the campaign was announced, we felt very happy as earlier we never had the opportunity to hoist tricolour atop our homes. But it was short-lived when we learnt that our Khadi unit has no role in it since flags of other materials had been allowed,” Laxman Yaligar, a young lecturer, told The Hindu.

Social workers Viresh Jogi and Manjunath Dodmani said, “When one thinks of national flag, one automatically remembers Garag. But when the very existence of the khadi unit which weaves the cloth for the flag is being wiped out, how can we celebrate?”

Forced to shut down

The sound of handlooms from Dharwad taluk’s Garag Kshetriya Seva Sangha, located a few hundred meters from the Gandhi statue in the village, can no longer be heard because they stopped functioning in December, 2021. The reason being want of cotton sliver (Hanji in Kannada).

Last year, after its sliver unit in Chitradurga was gutted in a fire accident, KVIC stopped supply of sliver to Khadi units and later came up with the proposal of supplying sliver from Kerala unit at a cost of ₹416 per kilo excluding transport cost, which is almost double the earlier price (₹296/kg).

“We could not afford to procure sliver at such a high cost and asked the KVIC for permission to allow us to procure cotton and get sliver at a regional level. We are yet to receive it,” said M.S. Hiremath, Secretary of the Sangha.

Also read: India’s only BIS-certified flag-making unit trumped by polyester flags

Thus, the production of high-quality khadi cloth, which had fetched the Sangha the opportunity to produce flag cloth way back in 1974, came to a standstill last December. “In fact, following a direction from the KVIC chairman, we had got 15,000 metres of cloth woven by December 2021 for the Amrit Mahotsav celebration. However, even that cloth has not been procured from us yet,” said Ishwarappa Itagi, Manager of the Sangha.

Another schocking development for the Sangha is that the Khadi Dyers and Printers in Mumbai (reportedly not a khadi production unit), where the Sangha got the flags stitched, has now been permitted by the KVIC to manufacture flags of any cloth.

The spinning section of the Garag Kshetriya Seva Sangha’s khadi production centre at Garag village in Dharwad taluk, which has now suspended production.

The spinning section of the Garag Kshetriya Seva Sangha’s khadi production centre at Garag village in Dharwad taluk, which has now suspended production. | Photo Credit: GIRISH PATTANASHETTI

278 families impacted

As many as 278 families, spread over the villages of Garag, Tadakodu, Kotabagi, Madanbhavi and Nichhanaki, are dependent on the Khadi Seva Sangha and have all been pushed to the streets after the production stopped in 2021. Even the 16 khadi ‘karyakartas’ (activists) who take care of the administration of the Sangha have not received their wages since the last four months.

Every year, the Garag Sangha woud do a business of ₹1 crore through the national flag alone on a no-profit no-loss basis. This year, however, they have only made ₹12 lakh so far, thanks to the amendment to the flag code and related developments.

“It pains us to see the struggle of khadi workers, that too during Amrit Mahotsav,”  said Mr. Bulbule.

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