When fire had engulfed the Mantralaya building in Mumbai recently, some bravehearts stood on the burning deck whence all but they had fled, to ensure that no harm would come to the national flag.
Here’s a typical news report from Mumbai on the incident:
For Suresh Baria and his colleagues, the flames, which were beginning to leap towards the national flag that fluttered atop the structure of the secretariat, were no deterrent as they went ahead with their job, that of lowering the flag in the evening. at a time when everyone else around them was running towards the exit, Baria and his team had chosen to stay right beside the flag, refusing to budge until they were given orders to lower the flag safely.All Class IV employees of the PWD department, they stayed put for two hours on the terrace of the Mantralaya building, waiting for orders to lower the flag.They later pulled the flag down, folded it as per the guidelines and safely tucked it away in a special room.
Another report adds:
“We were together,” said a flag in-charge. “We were giving strength to one another. Our families kept calling us on the cell, but we couldn’t attend their calls as we were constantly in touch with our supervisors. When we saw people crowding near the lift and staircases were jammed with people, we thought of our duty to the flag. It had to be done. We removed the flag to safety.”
Makes a very good story. Unmindful of their own safety, these bravehearts saved the national flag from being burnt and all that.
My own view is that patriotism of this variety is uncalled for. One must not be disrespectful to the national flag. All reasonable efforts must be put in to ensure that the rituals and protocol with respect to hoisting/lowering of flags are adhered to. But if some accident or natural calamity causes it to go up in flame, it is not an ‘insult to the nation’. Thousands of paper flags are consigned to the dustbins once the Independence Day or Republic Day celebrations get over and we don’t shed tears. We understand the symbolism and the spirit behind hoisting the flag or pinning one on our shirts.
It is irresponsible and even idiotic to risk one’s life without a thought for one’s family and dependents. . I’m sure that even professional firemen and army personnel, who are trained to put country before self, are not expected to sacrifice their lives to save a burning flag.
If you perish while trying to save the flag, you’ll get an award posthumously, but fat lot of good it will do to your family. When a call has been issued to evacuate the building, obey those orders first and stop being a misguided smartass craving for attention and your ‘moment of glory’. You’ll serve society and the country better by not causing distress to your families.