This R-Day, Think of Those Who Pick Up Flags Instead of Books

Braving the chilly winters, these kids are burdened by the weight of the tricolour.

Published
Videos
2 min read

On a windy winter January morning, wrapped in a thin red shawl, Kailash is the only flag-seller who treads the streets near the Moolchand flyover. Every time the traffic signal turns red, he walks through a maze of cars shouldering a few flags. Peeking through the closed windows, he gestures people to purchase one, but hardly do the windows come down.

Scores of fluttering tricolours is a common sight on most signals before Republic Day and Independence Day. But what does the tricolour mean to the tiny shoulders that carry them from signal to signal?

Kailash walks through the streets, selling Indian flags.
Kailash walks through the streets, selling Indian flags.
(Photo: Vivek Das/The Quint)

“The country got independence on 26th January,” said Kamlesh who usually sells flags on the streets of Chirag Delhi. Not just Kamlesh, but almost all the flag bearers do not know the difference between 26 January and 15 August. For them, the flags are just about a day’s meal, and nothing more.

Earning money for their daily fare is not the only difficulty they face. They live, with their families, under flyovers without any proper shelter or other drinking and sanitation facilities. Kids are oblivious to what childhood means, and are out on streets selling flags – some even barefoot.

Scores of tricolours is a common sight near signals before Republic Day.
Scores of tricolours is a common sight near signals before Republic Day.
(Photo: Vivek Das/The Quint)

“We want to study, but we don’t have enough money to pursue education,” says Namkeen, a teenager who sells flag around the Moolchand flyover. Munna at Chirag Delhi too believes that his life could change if he can pursue education.

Our parents tell us that they don’t have enough money to send us to school, so we come here and sell flags. If given a chance, even we would study and make our lives better.
Munna, flag seller

For most of these migrants, life is about surviving one day at a time, burdened by the weight of the tricolour. They only wish to earn enough so that, one day, they can return home.

(We Indians have much to talk about these days. But what would you tell India if you had the chance? Pick up the phone and write or record your Letter To India. Don’t be silent, tell her how you feel. Mail us your letter at lettertoindia@thequint.com. We’ll make sure India gets your message.)

Camera/Producer: Vivek Das
Multimedia Producer: Puneet Bhatia

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!