The national flag of India is not just a symbol of our identity but also our history, struggle for independence and pride. To sign an autograph on the national flag is not just grossly disrespectful but also is against the Flag Code of India, which sets out guidelines for the proper display and use of the flag. A violation of the Flag Code of India can lead to legal consequences, aside from being insensitive and offensive.
Hence, when a Hungarian woman recently came up to Neeraj Chopra, who became the first Indian to win a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships, and asked him for his autograph by signing on the Indian national flag, he respectfully declined and signed the sleeve of her t-shirt instead.
This incident was shared by sports journalist Jonathan Selvaraj on social media. Have a look at his post here:
A very sweet Hungarian lady (who spoke excellent Hindi btw) wanted a Neeraj Chopra autograph. Neeraj said sure but then realised she meant on the 🇮🇳 flag. 'Waha nahi sign kar sakta' Neeraj tells her. Eventually he signed her shirt sleeve. She was pretty happy all the same. pic.twitter.com/VhZ34J8qH5
— jonathan selvaraj (@jon_selvaraj) August 28, 2023
Several people online lauded Neeraj Chopra for his mindfulness and respect towards the national flag. Here’s what some of them said:
Even during the Tokyo Olympics he had shown how to fold the national flag in correct way
— Manish Manke (@ManishManke) August 28, 2023
He is from Army and knows the flag code
— Ritesh Shrivastava 🇮🇳 (@Ritz1975) August 28, 2023
The Indian flag, a small piece of cloth, but represents the collective civilization and culture of a billion people. Only a civilizational citizen can fathom that it deserves unquestionable and unlimited respect. No personal achievement is bigger than the flag. Jai Hind.
— Ramanujam Chary (@rajesh_chary) August 28, 2023
He is the real gold, irrespective of the fact that he wins one or not. Pure class!
— Sakshi R (@sakshir06) August 28, 2023
What an absolute superstar and a true ambassador for everything that a great sportsman should stand for
— Harsh Saluja (@salujhar) August 28, 2023
Laata gold hai, par ladka heera hai. https://t.co/tBKSj7Sis0
— Abhishek Baxi (@baxiabhishek) August 28, 2023
Very thoughtful of Neeraj Chopra. The sanctity of the flag needs to be maintained under all circumstances. https://t.co/A1PXnURRZY
— VatsRohit (@KesariDhwaj) August 28, 2023
What is the Flag Code of India?
The Flag Code of India was first introduced in 2002 as a set of guidelines to govern the display, usage and handling of the national flag with utmost respect and dignity. There are proper protocols for displaying the flag in various locations like government buildings, educational institutes, etc. It is not supposed to touch the ground or water, or be used as a tablecloth, drapery or a form of clothing. In case of disposal of the flag, burning is the recommended method.
For more details, you can read the guidelines here.
Kudos to Neeraj Chopra for being an incredible inspiration for the youth of today!