Like everything else, pandemic takes a toll on Independence Day shopping
By R. Amanda Fernandez
Independence Day celebrations in India are incomplete without flag hoisting, people holding the Tricolour or sporting them on vehicles, office desks and even pinning them onto their clothing.
This year the COVID-19 pandemic has started a new and innovative trend of Tricolour face masks ahead of the 75th I-Day on Aug. 15. This has led to stiff opposition on social media as after the Tricolour masks are put to use, they end up in gutters like other masks, causing an insult to the National Flag.
Amidst all this, the sale of flags has dropped in Mysuru. Last year the sale was better as the first wave of pandemic reached its peak only in September-October. Over 80 percent of business has been hit since the last two years, the traders rued.
This year, however, the killer second wave is not yet over and there is an imminent threat of a third wave. Moreover, Schools and Colleges being still closed have also impacted the sale of flags and products related to I-Day celebrations like flags of different sizes, T-shirts, head gear, wrist bands, etc., say traders.
‘Khadi India’ on Dhanvanthri Road, a Government of India enterprise, sells Khadi outfits and flags. The outlet has been reporting a sharp decline in flag sales since last year. “There is no significant improvement this year too,” Mallikarjuna, who runs the shop, told Star of Mysore.
He said though the outlet offered discounts on Khadi garments to attract customers, it has not enthused the buyers. The shop has another branch at Ballal Circle and here too the same situation prevails. Still, people who manage the shops are optimistic that the sales will pick up on I-Day and a day before.
For the record, the only authorised unit in the country which manufactures and supplies authentic National Flags made of cloth is the Karnataka Khadi and Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha (Federation) located at Bengeri village in Dharwad district.
This year, traders have not got any orders from offices and institutions that normally buy cloth flags in bulk. During previous years, institutions, hotels and hospitals would buy merchandise to decorate their premises but this year one can hardly expect them, said a trader.
Fancy stores selling small flags and other Tricolour products are in a worse condition than the Khadi stores as these stores only sell small daily use products, which is supplemented by flag sales during the Independence and Republic Day.
As it is the 75th I-Day, some fancy stores have invested heavily to procure goods that symbolise India’s freedom struggle. Sujeet, who runs a fancy store on Vinoba Road, says that there has been no sale of flags and other Tricolour products.
“School children were our regular customers, buying flags, Tricolour ribbons, hair bands, etc. Now with Schools shut down, I have not seen a single student at my store. Auto drivers also used to buy flags to adorn their vehicles but nowadays this has also been in decline,” he said.
Like everything else, the pandemic has taken a toll on the Independence Day shopping too. It has affected economies worldwide and the manufacturing sector has been trampled. The young and the old crowding in front of shops decked up with Tricolour flags and other paraphernalia ahead of I-Day is not a scene that is commonly witnessed in a COVID world.