There is no dearth of patriotic messages during national holidays like Independence day and Republic day. Stories of valour and the symbolism behind the events that take place during the day are shared in various groups with good wishes on multiple platforms online. One such message doing the rounds claims that there is a distinction between the flag ‘hoisting’ versus ‘unfurling’. The message, that was heavily circulating in WhatsApp during Independence day 2021, and has again resurfaced on the occasion of Republic day this past week, and claims that the flag is ‘hoisted’ by the Prime Minister during the Independence to symbolise the rise of a new nation, and that the flag is ‘unfurled’ at the Republic day, as the nation is already created and thriving.
The claim is viral on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and has also been picked up by mainstream news outlets and reported as ‘facts you didn’t know about’.
On a keyword search, Newschecker found several articles published ahead of the Independence Day function last year, by Yahoo News, India TV and by OpIndia on August 15 2021, which dwells on the intricacies of the differences between the ceremonies held in New Delhi on Independence day and Republic day.
“When the Tricolour is to be ‘hoisted’ on Independence Day, i.e. August 15, the flag is tied and sits at the bottom of the pole,” the article claims, and adds that the Prime Minister of the country raises the flag up and hoists it. The article further says that “On the other hand, when the Tricolour is to be ‘unfurled’ on Republic Day, i.e. January 26, the flag remains closed and tied up at the top of the pole. The President of India unfurls it.”
To verify the authenticity of the claim, Newschecker began by looking up the videos of Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations. We found that while it is true that the Prime Minister unfurls the flag on Independence Day, the flag is already hoisted up the flagpole and held in place by a personnel of the army. The Prime Minister only tugs on the strings of the flag to unfurl the national flag. The same sequence of events was observed in the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort from the time of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and through the 7 years of tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi so far.
A video of the Independence Day event from 2004, published on the YouTube channel of Prasar Bharti Archives, clearly shows PM Manmohan Singh ceremonially holding the rope while the army personnel is seen tugging on the strings and unfurling it.
Furthermore, Newschecker looked at the Republic Day celebrations at the Rajpath, and saw videos of the flag ‘unfurling’ ceremony, and found that while the flag is ‘unfurled’ then too, the President stands on the saluting dais, offering his salute with the rest of the dignitories, while the flag is hoisted, then as well, by an army personnel, and not by the President of India.
To further check if the Ministry of Home Affairs makes any distinction in the terminology used, Newschecker referred to the Flag Code issued by the Ministry and found no such distinction made. In one place, the Home Ministry clubs the two events together, and calls it ‘unfurling’, which corroborates what the video evidence of the functions tell us.
Claims that there is a distinction between the way tricolour is unfurled during the Republic Day and Independence Day are baseless and fabricated.
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