Published: 14th August 2019
Independence Day: This Chennai group crowdfunded the city's largest national flag and gifted it to the Army for I-Day
The CTI's final pledge is to crowdfund and hoist a 90 ft x 60 ft national flag on a 207ft pole in a public space to strengthen participatory democracy
Independence Day is just around the corner and this citizen's initiative in Chennai has taken a pledge to hoist a 20x30 feet national flag on the war memorial flag pole near Marina beach, which can be seen beyond the Napier bridge.
Started in 2016, the Chennai Tricolour Initiative (CTI) which is a citizens' initiative, came up with this idea of crowdfunding a flag to hoist on August 15 after they noticed that over the past year or so, the Army-maintained flag at the War Memorial was being being reduced in size — owing to not having people to keep an eye on it and replace when it needs to be replaced (with the sun in Chennai and saltwater, any flag will have to be replaced at least once a month). "Around 2016, the War Memorial flag pole came up, former late CM Jayalalithaa hoisted it, I remember going there looking at it and it felt nice. You could see the flag beyond Napiers bridge, it was nice and huge. But, the flag has now become smaller and less prominent and if you squint standing at the Marina, it is still far less visible. It carried a 20x30 feet flag earlier, but now it will roughly be 15x10 feet one," says Vijay Anand, one of the trustees of CTI.
Following this development, Anand says that they went to ask the Army office if as a voluntary service, their non-profit organisation they can gift them the bigger flags that they used to hoist on the poles. "We saw that the size has reduced and we asked is there any specific reason you have done that, we will be more than happy to help if there is something that we can do. Reasonably so, there was some hesitation — the army doesn't like to rely on anyone but after a few months of pondering they agreed to accept our gift," adds Anand.
So this Independence Day, the flag that will fly in the war memorial near the Marina beach is 20x30 feet which is a result of CTI's crowdfunding initiative. "A 20 x 30 feet flag costs around Rs 24,000. For now, this isn't a big amount and I was more than happy to cover it out of my pocket, but people wanted to pitch in. So, it made a lot of sense to open this opportunity for people to participate. People contributed within Rs 25 to Rs 1000 each. A total of 44 contributors pitched in Rs 18,325," says Anand.
The CTI volunteers will be handing it over to the army on August 14 at 11 am. The flag will be hoisted on the eve of August14 and will be unfurled on August 15. It will be lowered on August 16 and replaced with the regular small flag. Anand adds, "We will see if we can raise enough money soon to have the large flag flying throughout the year. We need about 20 flags a year, that would be about 4 lakhs, some people have written to me saying that they want to pitch in. If that comes in place, then we will be able to supply the flags. We are still figuring it out."
The Chennai Tricolor Initiative is a citizens' initiative, to start a movement that cultivates civic responsibility among the inhabitants of the city. The registered non-profit trust is not politically aligned in any way but is working with the current government for several initiatives. Their most recent project was creating a replica of the 1st edition of the Constitution of India, with all the artwork and original information. It took almost three years for the entire thing to be completed, says Anand. "Some of us volunteer in schools to talk about the constitution and we wanted our upcoming generation to revel in the national treasure that it is. We are also involved with other initiatives relating to start-ups and mainly tech-related stuff in the city," he concludes.
If you would still like to contribute, you can do so via the link below.