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Celebrating history: Puneite who chose to see ‘true colour’ of flags

Shrikant Joshi boasts of a collection of 110 flags from various countries across the globe.

pune Updated: Jan 25, 2018 15:39 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrikant Joshi with his collection of flags.
Shrikant Joshi with his collection of flags.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

While growing up, I was always fascinated by historical facts and the story behind the formation of various countries. One thing that intrigued me the most was each flags of countries. I liked to read and find out about the meaning, colour, symbol and story behind each flag. Owing to this curiosity, I started an unusual hobby of collecting flags in 1990,” says Shrikant Joshi, 80, who is a retired purchase officer from the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.

Today, Joshi boasts of a collection of 110 flags from various countries across the globe. He has regularly visited schools to impart knowledge about the flags to students. Through the lectures, he aims to awaken the feeling of patriotism among students.

Joshi gave his first lecture on October 15, 1991, in a municipal school of Uttamnagar, Pune. Till date, Joshi has given 419 lectures in different schools of Maharashtra. Joshi has also started to write a book on different flags in Marathi. Joshi said, “I aim trying to establish a centre that will house flags, preferably like a ‘Flag Bhavan’ in Pune, which will also contain information about flags of all nations in the world.”

Recalling an incident from his younger days, Joshi shared that while he was studying political science in the 90s, he found that he did not have enough study material to study the politics of west Asia and Israel. Hence, he wrote a letter to the Israeli consulate and asked them to make the necessary study material available. In reply, the consulate sent a book, ‘Facts about Israel’, and a table model of their flag.

“This Israel flag was the first flag in my collection. Initially, my lectures would always begin with information on the Israel flag. The letter from the consulate motivated me and encouraged me to write more letters to other countries to seek more information,” he said.

Following this, it became a practice to write letters to various consulates and request for an actual flag, table model of a flag, maps and more facts about the respective country. While most countries would reply positively and patiently, the process wasn’t always easy. He started approaching friends, relatives and students who were in foreign countries or who had planned trips to the same.

According to Joshi, the Russian flag was the most difficult to attain. “The Russian flag was very difficult to find. I had written many letters to the Russian consulate but received no reply. Following this, I wrote to the then foreign affairs minister Salman Khurshid and asked him to help me in this regard. Interestingly, he not only helped me with the Russian flag, but also that of Britain, France and Germany.”