MANGALURU: Much before preparations for the Independence Day began, flag-makers across the country work without a pause. The Shetty family from Talapady, located about 26 km from Mangaluru city, has also been flooded with orders for the last two months to make tricolours of various sizes for the occasion.
Flag-making, however, is not the main job of Jayanth Shetty, who works at a cloth showroom in the city. Despite being preoccupied with the wholesale distribution job, he has been making flags for over 25 years. As Independence Day nears, his days get busier, since orders for flags start pouring in.
“It was in the 1990s, when I was working in a shop owned by a flag-maker, Dooja Poojary, that I got inspired to take up the work. Initially, it seemed to be a Herculean task since we had no machines to rely upon, and everything was made by hand,” he recalls.
A lot of care goes into stitching the flag in the exact required size, and also in the screen printing process, Shetty points out. “If there is an error, the piece gets rejected,” he says, adding that now, printed flags have taken over hand-woven ones, which are mostly supplied from Chennai.
The material used for the tricolour is sourced from wholesale dealers from Surat and Ahmedabad. “We use polyester, which is later cut into required sizes and stitched,” explains Shetty, who claims to be the sole flag-maker in Mangaluru. He does the machine stitching and screen printing of the blue Ashoka Chakra of specific size with the help of his family members -- his daughter Divya, who works as an accountant; son Amarnath, a cashier; and wife Jayashree, a home-maker. His brother, Krishna Shetty, too helps in the display and sale of the flags at his fruit shop at Padil a week before the Independence Day.
It takes 10 minutes for the Ashoka Chakra to be printed on the piece of white cloth, while the whole process of making one flag takes nearly 20 minutes. The tricolour is made in six sizes, ranging from large cloth banners to small hand-held ones. This year, the family has already produced almost 800 flags at their house, which have been dispatched. On an average, 1,000 flags are made every year and sent to schools, government offices and wholesalers.
“When I started, we used to supply flags free of cost to government schools, clubs and schoolchildren. However, today the demand has come down, due to the availability of printed flags, which mostly come from outside the state,” Shetty says. “At present, we supply only to dealers in Dakshina Kannada who buy in bulk,” he says recalling an earlier order that required him to supply a large tricolour cloth banner to a foreign country. Shetty is now a recognised figure in the town because of his work. Dr Yathish Kumar, associate professor, Department of Commerce, University College, lauds him for the passion he puts into the job.
“The three colours in the flag are a symbol of unity of India. There is universal affection and respect for the tricolour. Jayanth is one of the few persons in Dakshina Kannada who is into this noble work despite having a busy schedule. All the work done out of respect for our country must be appreciated and supported,” Kumar says.
Shetty too finds satisfaction in the fact that the job involves the feeling of working for the country. “We are not into flag-making to earn any profit,” he says. “We do it purely out of the respect and pride that we have towards India.”