A hobby that is steeped in Na­tional pride

FROM FLAGS TO EM­BLEMS Re­tired sci­en­tist aims to in­still pa­tri­o­tism in youth

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Tas­neem Kausar ht­for­nav­i­mum­[email protected] hin­dus­tan­times. com CBD BE­LA­PUR:

Meet Raj Ku­mar Gupta, 74, a re­tired sci­en­tific of­fi­cer of the De­part­ment of Atomic En­ergy of Government of In­dia. What really makes him stand apart though is his pen­chant for col­lect­ing na­tional em­blems and In­dian flags. His house, Raj Bha­van, named af­ter him, is a vir­tual mu­seum of sorts.

Gupta, a res­i­dent of Sec­tor 9 in CBD, started col­lect­ing Ashoka em­blems and the tri­color of var­i­ous sizes af­ter re­tire­ment from BARC around 11 years ago.

He has Ashoka pil­lars made of mar­ble, teak­wood, san­dal­wood and other woods, and also of brass metal, stain­less steel and iron. There are photo frames with pic­tures of the em­blem, lam­i­nated cards as well as pa­per cut­tings of ad­ver­tise­ments and news re­ports which have the em­blem in them.

There is a rea­son for this pen­chant, and it is all about na­tional pride. “Pa­tri­o­tism is the true re­li­gion. I take pride in it, and I want to spread this mes­sage all over,” he says.

On the oc­ca­sion of the Repub­lic Day though, Gupta is sad­dened by the present gen­er­a­tion. “The youth to­day are busy with them­selves and be­lieve na­tional mat­ters are is­sues for the government. I don’t see much of pa­tri­o­tism th­ese days,” laments Gupta.

“They have got free­dom and the con­sti­tu­tion on a plat­ter. There is ac­tu­ally a need to guide th­ese youth, and ex­plain to them the price at which we got in­de­pen­dence and the con­sti­tu­tion and its im­por­tance. For them Jan­uary 26 is just a hol­i­day.”

And Gupta has been do­ing just that. “Ev­ery Repub­lic Day, I dis­trib­ute flags and em­blems to kids and give a talk on what free­dom and con­sti­tu­tion is all about.”

Gupta also in­tends to form a trust and dis­trib­ute all his col­lec­tion amongst the peo­ple to cre­ate aware­ness. It will be ac­com­pa­nied by a note on the con­sti­tu­tion.

“That pas­sion will never end. I will con­tinue to col­lect the em­blems and flags. With ris­ing prices it is be­com­ing a bit dif­fi­cult, but I keep coming up with in­no­va­tions to con­tinue with my hobby,” he says.

BACHCHAN KU­MAR

Raj Ku­mar Gupta with his col­lec­tion.

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