On the Issue of an Official Flag for Karnataka

The last few days have witnessed a sudden resurgence of an old issue – the recognition of the gold-and-red flag of the Karnataka movement as the official flag of the State of Karnataka.

Whether the Karnataka flag gets official recognition or not is irrelevant to me. As far as I am concerned, it has always been an important cultural symbol and a regular feature on the linguistic and cultural landscape of the state. Whether the Government of India recognises this or not doesn’t really matter . As a symbol, it will continue to exist and even thrive in Karnataka, no matter what the Central Government thinks.

On a slightly different note,  we can expect issues like these to become louder as we approach elections. The demand for official recognition has always been around and it can become a convenient issue for politicians to appropriate around election time. This is especially so this year, given existing anger at the Central Government’s Hindi push, making flag recognition a particularly emotive issue.

There are accusations that this issue is being pushed by the state’s ruling party. Personally, I believe all parties in the state have incentives to push an issue like this into the limelight during an election year. It’s an issue on which, all politicians can declare strong stands, or accuse each other of misappropriation. In the meantime, more crucial issues where it’s harder to take ideological stands – such as the ongoing drought – can be pushed to the sidelines.

Ideologically, I don’t see anything wrong with having a state flag. That being said, I’d be happier if we in Karnataka concentrated on mitigating the drought, increasing access to jobs, healthcare, and education, and taking greater measures to protect our environment and natural resources. These are important issues to take up with the Central Government and far more critical points to debate and judge electoral candidates with.

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