APRIL 2002 Contents
Business & Economy
at Every Alien Door'
- an 'unflagging' zeal
He heads a steel and power empire and is a champion polo player and a skeet shooter. He has also just won a decade-long and a relentless court battle to secure the right of Indians to hoist the countryís flag everyday and not just on special occasions like Independence and Republic days. "The Indian flag does not just belong to the government or the bureaucracy, it belongs to every Indian," says Naveen Jindal.
Whether he is in the boardroom or in the field, Naveen Jindal aims to triumph over competition and win convincingly. The youngest scion of the O.P. Jindal Group is not just an accomplished polo player or a champion skeet shooter. He has also just won the most important battle of his life Ė he secured the right of Indians to hoist the countryís flag everyday and not just on special occasions like Independence and Republic days. " The Indian flag does not just belong to the government or the bureaucracy, it belongs to every Indian," says Naveen Jindal.
" In countries like Japan, American and Germany, it is a matter of pride for citizens to fly their national flag. Why can't we follow their example? I am proud to be an Indian and by flying the tricolour, I am only showing my love for my country," says Jindal who now has a flag flying atop his sprawling 6 Prithviraj Road residence in Delhi and is flanked by a large flag and a desktop version at his office in the imposing Jindal House.
When he was doing a course in management in Dallas at the University of Texas, the sight of Americans proudly displaying their national flag on every important occasion thrilled him. They would even wear T-shirts with the stars and stripes printed on them. On his return to India he hoisted the national flag atop his factory in Raigarh (now in Chhattisgarh). And thatís when trouble started.
" I did not do this as an act of defiance, but to inspire workers and to remind them that the country came before everything else. You will be surprised, the attitude of the workers changed dramatically. There was a sense of belonging and a surge of patriotism which motivated them greatly," says Jindal.
However, luck ran out on him within a year of his hoisting the flag. He received an order from the district collector of Raigarh, asking him to remove it as it violated the Flag Code and was against the law. If he did not comply he could face severe action, the order warned. Soon enough cops were ordered to ensure the removal of the flag.
"The Indian flag does not just belong to the government or the bureaucracy, it belongs to every Indian," says Jindal. He knew he had only two options---either to meekly comply or fight for his birth right in a court of law. He chose the latter.
Jindal filed a writ in the Delhi High Court, which issued a decision in his favour. However, the Supreme Court later stayed the decision. But by now he was determined to keep up his struggle. He prayed for a review stating that being allowed to fly the tricolour should come under the Freedom of Speech and Expression Act. He had the best legal minds in the country---from Solicitor General Harish Salve and leading advocate K.K.Venugopal to former law minister Shanti Bhushan. Over the years he also took his appeal to three Prime Ministers and Home Ministers but to no avail.
"I decided to fight on till the logical end. This was a very serious issue for me. Right from my childhood, I felt a deep patriotism at seeing the national flag flying atop government buildings. I couldnít comprehend why I could not fly one atop my house and office. Thatís what motivated me to fight for my right," says Jindal.
However, before the Supreme Court could give its judgment, keeping in mind the sentiments, the Central government issued an executive order allowing all Indians the right to fly the National Flag on all days and not just on special occasions. Naveen Jindalís decade-long fight finally bore fruit.
Jindal presides over the unit of Jindal Power and Steel at Raigarh, where the company has set up an integrated sponge iron steel plant to produce 500,00 tonnes of finished steel.
Jindal has many other passions in life. One is his love for sports. He is the captain of the Jindal polo team, which has been participating in various tournaments around the county and is today counted among the best teams in India.
"I take polo very seriously as I want our team to win as many tournaments as it can," says Jindal and adds, "When I was a kid, I would see my father riding and was very fascinated. It's from him that I learnt the skill of both riding and playing polo."
The childhood infatuation turned serious when he enrolled himself in the President's Estate Polo Club in Delhi. "I acquired top quality horses and built up the Jindal polo team." Today, the family's 30-acre farm in Noida (near Delhi) provides the right setting for the stables, which houses 30 ponies and horses with top-of-the-line polo facilities, including riders and trainers.
But polo is not where Jindal's sporting interests begin and end. He is also a skilled skeet shooter, though he doesn't get as much time for the sport as he would like to.
Now that he has secured the national flag for the people of India, the fear among some circles is that it may lead to its commercialisation, especially at the hands of Bollywood filmmakers or fashion designers.
Jindal strongly refutes these fears saying, " Do we show disrespect to the idols of Gods we place at home? If not then why should a flag and its prestige be downgraded if someone keeps it in his home. As far as commercialisation is concerned the Government must lay down strict rules."
The government, in fact, has come out with Doís and Doníts. Any Indian can hoist the national flag on any day from sunrise to sunset. The ratio of the width to length of the flag should be 2:3. The strict Doníts include that no one would be allowed to hoist a damaged flag, nor can anyone fly it upside down. It should not touch the ground and should be higher than all other flags except the flag of the United Nations. It cannot be draped on any vehicle or used for funeral or printed on clothes like shirts, bed sheets and cushions.
Jindal is confident that all Indians would adhere to the laws and fly the flag respectfully. " This is the first step at changing the outlook of Indians. It will infuse a sense of patriotism and commitment to the country,"
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