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Delhi government to spend £4.5m placing giant national flags across city as part of ‘nationalist budget’

Delhi’s plan for the flags is part of celebrations for India’s 75th independence day

Mayank Aggarwal
Wednesday 10 March 2021 14:24 GMT
File image: Indian government is also making extensive preparations for India’s 75th independence day celebrations
File image: Indian government is also making extensive preparations for India’s 75th independence day celebrations (AFP)

Delhi government on Tuesday announced its plan to spend about £4.5m for placing 500 giant national flags across the city for celebrating India’s 75th year of independence next year.

The plan was unveiled in Delhi’s 2021-22 budget about whose defining feature, according to the city’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, was patriotism. 

“In the 75th year journey of independent India, the greatest symbol of our individual identity has been national flag - the tricolour. I propose that on this great occasion, we should decorate the sky of Delhi with the tricolour,” said Delhi’sfinance minister Manish Sisodia while presenting the budget.

He cited the example of Delhi’s main market area, Connaught Place, where “the view of the large, 200 feet tricolour waving in the sky, fills our hearts and minds with nationalistic pride.”

“I propose that on the 75th year of independence, that not only in these selected places, all citizens of Delhi, when coming out from their homes even for short distances, do not return without similar sentiments of patriotism and national pride. Therefore, the government plans to install spectacular waving tricolour at 500 places all over Delhi,” he announced.

The activist-turned politician said with these 500 tricolours, the government will decorate the entire city in such a way that anyone travelling through “one or two kilometres in Delhi will find a flag waving high” while allocating about£4.5m for it.

However, the plan for the flags was criticised by many on social media.

For instance, a retired top official of the Indian army, major general Dr Yash Mor tweeted: “These flags cost a fortune to install and much more to maintain. I would rather spend scarce resources on more useful needs of common people. Hyper nationalism is toast of the nation now.”

The money allocated for flags was comparable to the government’s allocation of about£4.9m for providing free Covid-19 vaccines to people of Delhi in the government hospitals.

“Vaccine for freedom from Covid will be available in the market for £2.5, but we have families in Delhi who would have to choose either to buy a full month’s ration for their family or get vaccination for corona from their monthly salary,” said Mr Sisodia while emphasising that in the 75th year of independence this question should not be on the mind of any citizen of India.

Over the past few years, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the national level, nationalism has gained centrestage and since then the opposition parties have been trying to match up with them.

Besides the celebrations for India’s 75th year of independence, the municipal elections are also scheduled to take place in the city in 2022.

Mr Sisodia also announced that they are going to introduce a patriotism curriculum to instil the “spirit of patriotism and nationhood within every child” studying in their schools by teaching one period daily on patriotism.

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