Precision is the only religion they follow- inside the only facility that makes the Indian National Flag
Picture the national flag fluttering high up in the sky and your heart will swell with immense pride. Of late, India’s distinction of being a country with unity in diversity seems to be at stake owing to frequent unrest in various parts of the country. But irrespective of all the strife and enmity, a small group of economically-backward women from different religions have dedicated their lives to making our symbol of national pride. These women are employed by the Karnataka Khadi Gramodyog Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS) in Bengeri village of Dharwad district, which is home to the sole manufacturing and supplying facility of the Indian flag for the entire country.
History of KKGSS
KKGSS was founded on November 1, 1957, by a group of Gandhians who came together to create a federation for the growth of khadi and other village industries in the region. Venkatesh T. Magadi and Sriranga Kamat were chosen as the first Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively.
Soon after its establishment, about 58 institutions around the State were brought under the aegis of the KKGSS and the federation started functioning with Hubli as the head office. The head office is spread across 17 acres and along with the manufacturing facilities, it also houses a training college to train students in textile chemistry.
Even though the production of khadi began in the year 1982, the flag manufacturing unit only started operations in 2004.
The founders fought for the flag facility to be established at the KKGSS for the benefit of the economically-backward classes who lived around the area. Today, over 100 specialist spinners and weavers are employed in making the flag,
says Nagaveni Kalwad, Manager-Flag Section, KKGSS.
Why it is the only facility
KKGSS is the sole facility in the country to manufacture the flag conforming to the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The cloth, a material that is much stronger than jeans, is spun at KKGSS's weaving unit in Bagalkot and divided into three lots. Each lot is then dyed with one colour of the Indian flag. The cloth is then cut to size and the blue Ashoka chakra is printed on the white cloth. The three pieces are then stitched together to make the Indian flag.
The KKGSS’ flag facility has about 60 sewing machines to maintain precision while stitching. Each flag must conform to a critical criteria. The material undergoes an 18-time quality check before it can be used. The width and length of the flag should be in the ratio 2:3 and the chakra needs to be printed on both sides of the flag, with both prints perfectly matched. The BIS inspects each lot that is shipped and even the slightest mistake can result in a whole lot getting rejected. But despite the strict quality control, there is still an annual cancellation rate of 10 percent.
Each lot that is shipped is subjected to an inspection by BIS and any issue with a single flag could result in the whole lot being rejected. The flags are manufactured in nine sizes, the smallest one measures 6×4 inches while the biggest one is about a 21X14 feet.
Most new workers find it difficult to conform to the strict guidelines and go away in search of easier jobs,
says Nirmala, who has been working at the facility for over 10 years.
For workers like Nirmala at KKGSS, making the flag is not just a source of livelihood but is their way of serving the nation, something they are proud of and want to continue doing for the rest of their lives.
All those flags you see atop forts, offices, playgrounds, international forums, they are all made here, we make it,
they say, gushing in unison.
And what do they think about the differences that have split our countrymen?
All of us here at KKGSS belong to different religions, but once we are inside the premises, all our focus is on getting the National Flag right. There is no time for futile thoughts like those; most of all the hate is being spread by a few for their vested interests. We need to stand united during such times and go about discharging our respective duties with sincerity,
Food for thought at times like these, isn't it? Happy Independence Day!
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