The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Below-the-belt ban on flag

New Delhi, July 5: Soon, you will be able to wear the Tricolour on your cap, T-shirt or jacket. But not on your trousers, gown or swimsuit.

The Union cabinet today approved proposals to amend the Flag Code of India, withdrawing the ban on use of the Tricolour on “costumes and dress material” ' that is on clothes (such as shirts) or accessories (such as caps, helmets) worn above the waist.

But it laid down that ' unlike many countries in the West, such as the US ' the national flag cannot be used either on undergarments or on clothing worn below the waist, such as shorts, jeans or swimming trunks.

The ban extends to full-length dresses, such as gowns, because they reach below the waist and to accessories worn below the waist.

The last point means that you can sport a Tricolour on your bandanna or wrist- band but not on your ankle-band.

Naveen Jindal, the man behind the amendment, welcomed the move but fashion designers felt the government had struck them below the belt.

“It is good that the government' (has allowed) citizens to express their love for their country by wearing the flag,” said the Congress MP from Haryana.

Jindal, who had earlier won the right for citizens to hoist the national flag on their homes, had two years ago opposed an amendment to the flag code that was made in 2002.

That amendment forbade the display of the national flag on T-shirts, caps, jackets and the like, calling the practice “disrespectful” and making it a punishable offence.

One of Delhi’s top fashion designers, however, said: “Apart from limiting our creativity, this will do nothing to stop (show of) disrespect for the flag. Why should a swimmer wanting to wear the flag on his swimsuit be prevented from doing so'”

Another designer said: “In the US, after 9/11, several fashion designers expressed their nationalist sentiments by designing wardrobes with the stars and stripes prominently displayed.”

Jindal, however, felt the restrictions could be removed in a phased manner.

“The move is a good start, and in due course, I’m sure, other restrictions will be removed, too,” the Congress MP said.

A dress created by fashion designer Malini Ramani, coloured like the national flag, had raised a storm sometime ago.

Sachin Tendulkar, too, had provoked controversy by wearing the Tri-colour on his helmet during the 2003 World Cup.

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