Tiranga by Navaldeep Singh
Saffron, white, green???these colours are insignificant individually, but together stand for a powerful symbol in the Indian context. As a country, we seem to have a lot of pride in the national flag. And yet, we disregard everything the colours symbolize.
In the midst of political turmoil, where hyper-nationalism is the norm, confusion is the most prominent feeling. The concept of India, as a whole, like fractions, is questioned at every turn. Is there unity in diversity or is there no more unity to speak of? There are no clear answers, but a sense of foreboding about what is to come.
Navaldeep Singh?s poem, ?Tiranga?, sums up some of the frustrations felt in this ever-changing, complex country. The poem is recited in the point of view of the Tiranga, our tricolour, starting with the question, ?Have you come again today?? Though the poem is being performed in the first person, it is obvious that the poem is a message from someone. And it is towards the end, that the message-giver is revealed to be our very own flag, our Tiranga.
Singh delivers a powerful performance, questioning the motives of the people who use the flag as a shield or as propaganda. There is an undertone of anger that runs through the recital. This anger is multifaceted???Anger at being used, anger at being a symbol for misplaced political thoughts, anger at being misrepresented and most important, anger at being ignored and left helpless.
Succinctly, Singh brings up the deaths caused by communal riots. He remarks about how death is one of the few constants that the flag has had to deal with, every now and then. Right after independence, our flag was a symbol of independence and martyrdom, and yet it had to witness burning, death and destruction during the partition. Singh talks about how some people only see the saffron while some see only the green and blissfully ignore the existence the colour white, a symbol of peace. All the flag can do is be a silent spectator as more innocents are being burnt in its name.
Towards the end of the poem, Singh asks if the audience has still not recognized him. He finally reveals that he is the Tricolour, the same one that was decorated and hoisted at Kargil. The same one that stood for peace, resistance and their independence. But even with its significance, it stands naked in the shamelessness that the world has pushed it into. The Tricolour knows that even though it is being burned in the name of hatred, it still resides in the hearts of some, but it wonders that for how long it will reside there.
This piece, which is about a minute and a half, invokes powerful emotions in the listener. The short length of the poem somehow adds to the overall impact and meaning of the poem. Singh, through his emotional performance, has managed to capture the agony of the personified flag. Its despair and anger can be felt coming through with every word while bringing along a deep sense of sadness. The Tiranga had to pay a steep price to stand tall, fluttering in the wind, and sadly, continues to pay the price to this date.
It is pertinent to listen to this poem now, in 2019 and still have it resonate. It talks about the past but if we?re not careful, it may as well be talking about the future. The Tiranga is a matter of pride for the country. Every colour and every element of the flag has a meaning of its own; saffron stands for courage, white stands for peace and green stands for prosperity. It stands for freedom with all its connotations. And yet, there is something discordant.
Navaldeep Singh?s poem encompasses the wretchedness of the poor Tiranga. The flag that saw the freedom movement through, now witnesses its ideology being ripped to shreds. Perhaps it?s time we took a good look at our country and see it for what it has become, rather than what it was.
Watch Navaldeep?s performance: