Tricolour to fly “proud” atop 207 ft mast in central varsities

The national flag will fly atop a 207-ft tall flag mast on the campuses of all 46 Central Universities “prominently and proudly” to signify a “strong India”, a resolution adopted at a meeting of their Vice Chancellors with HRD Minister Smriti Irani said today.

The first of such flags will be hoisted on the restive JNU campus, officials in the HRD Ministry said.

“At a central place in every university, the national flag will be flown prominently and proudly,” the resolution passed at a meeting Irani had with the Vice Chancellors of Central universities, said.

The move drew a sharp reaction from the Congress which said nationalism doesn’t mean hoisting the flag and singing Vande Mataram and that it should be reflected in one’s belief in the Constitution. CPM leader Brinda Karat also slammed government for the decision.

The decision came in the midst of raging row over the arrest of JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges for being present at an event on the campus where anti-India slogans were raised. Though the government is facing strident opposition criticism over the issue, today’s move reflects its resolve to adopt an aggressive posture on it.

The proposal for hoisting the national tricolour atop a 207-feet pole was put forward by Irani and unanimously endorsed by all the 46 Vice Chancellors, HRD officials said. She also put forth the proposal for hoisting the first such flag at JNU, which too was backed by all the VCs, they said.

Officials in HRD Ministry said as per the resolution all the central universities, including JNU, will have to fly the tricolor and the decision was taken to “symbolise a strong and united India” in the institutions of higher education.

Irani had called the meeting of VCs following widespread protest over suicide of dalit scholar of Hyderabad University Rohith Vemula.

“Nationalism just doesn’t mean hoisting the flag and singing Vande Mataram. It is about showing your belief in the Constitution, it is about showing respect to the institutions which have made the country a democratic set up,” Congress’ R P N Singh said.

The JNU row had become the subject of a massive political fight with opposition coming down hard on the government. The protests have taken place in many universities including in Jadavpur University in West Bengal.

At the meeting several important aspects related to higher education, including the implementation of 2012 UGC regulations by varsities for promoting equity and addressing grievances of Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe students discussed.