The first National Flag was hoisted on August 7, 1906. The flag underwent many changes until it took on the final version in 1947.
The National Flag represents the hopes and aspirations of people. However, it’s those people sitting in Karnataka Khadi Gram Udyog Samyukta Sangha in Hubli, who work tirelessly to cut, stitch and present these flags in 9 different sizes to the various parts of this country.
In 1957, freedom fighter Venkatesh Magadi founded this Khadi Federation with an intention to promoting the use of Khadi, following in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi.
Khadi organisations from all over India soon got affiliated with this federation. This initiative of Magadi helped provide employment opportunities for the rural community as they came together to manufacture Khadi clothes and products. The head office at Hubli took care of printing, processing and sales.
Sivananda Mahapatre is the secretary of Karnataka Khadi Gram Udyog Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS). He has invested 35 years of his life in ensuring Indians celebrate their patriotism by waving the flag in pride.
He said, “In 2004, this unit became the sole manufacturer of the National Flag certified by Khadi and Village Industries Commission of India. In 2006, it became the only manufacturer in the country to be certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).”
According to Mahapatre, ever since the drought in North Karnataka in 1980, many villagers from Bijapur, Bagalkot, who had no job and no crops were benefited after joining these Khadi sheds.
“Around 2000 employees were working for this federation and 90% of them were women,” he said, adding that they were quite successful with the revenue clocking Rs 3 crore to Rs 3.5 crore last in 2018-19.
The making of the Flag
However, the COVID pandemic has led to a plunge in sales - Rs 56 lakh in 2020. This year has witnessed a slight increase in revenue - Rs 92 lakh so far. “With no schools and colleges remaining open, and the impending third wave being predicted by experts, we aren’t too sure if things will look bright this year,” said Mahapatre.
The COVID has definitely taken a toll on KKGSS and its employees. Many didn’t receive their salaries for 3 months, said the secretary. “COVID fear and lack of vaccines have led to a crunch in resources. There are only 1500 employees, most of them women. And they seem to continue to stick around only because they are proud to be manufacturing that piece of cloth that weaves in the pride of this nation. I am no less proud to be here,” said Mahapatre.
The Centre has asked states to ensure people don't use plastic flags. The Government of India has also planned year-long celebrations to mark this 75th Independence Day. KKGSS is expecting the revenue to touch Rs 4 crore by then and the supply plan is in place already.
“From procuring raw materials, planning supply, manufacturing and coordinating sales, we work through the year,” said Mahapatre. It’s time to get hold of the Tricolour to pay tribute to India as we usher in the 75th Independence Day.