Public outcry in Sydney over controversial advt displaying Indian flag

"Seeing our flag being walked on daily is deeply hurtful and unacceptable."

An advertisement by the global money transfer service, Remitly, has sparked public outcry in the community.

The advt, prominently displayed on the floor of Parramatta station in New South Wales (NSW), features the national flags including India.

Indian-origin commuters and local residents are expressing outrage over the perceived disrespect as thousands of people unknowingly walk over the flag daily.

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“This is more than just an advertisement; it’s a matter of national pride and respect,” said one Parramatta local to The Australia Today.

“Seeing our flag being walked on daily is deeply hurtful and unacceptable.”

The use and display of the Indian flag in advert are governed by strict regulations under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, and the Flag Code of India, 2002. According to these guidelines, India’s flag must be treated with the utmost respect and dignity, prohibiting its placement on the floor or any location where it could be walked upon or subjected to disrespect.

Image source: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – Twitter.

This controversy came to light when a concerned commuter, whose brother travels by this train station, noticed the Indian flag and shared his shock on social media.

The commuter stated in a now-viral post:

“My brother travels by train and informed me that Parramatta station got an advertisement from Remitly that shows our flag and he couldn’t digest the thousands of people walking over it.”

Despite multiple attempts to reach out to Parramatta station officials, the concerned individual reported no response, further fueling public frustration. “I have tried contacting Parramatta station but no luck. If someone can PMIT with them,” he pleaded in his post, urging the community and local authorities to take action.

In response to the growing backlash, the commuter also reached out to Remitly directly through LinkedIn.

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Encouragingly, Ryan Riley, VP and E&A Marketing at Remitly responded immediately and acknowledged the issue. He apologised for the advt and has promised a resolve the issue soon.

“We are checking to make sure this isn’t happening anywhere else. I’ll share back once I know for sure and once Paramatta one is fixed. Really appreciate you letting us know and sorry for any offense.”

Community members, social media users, and local advocacy groups have rallied together, calling for immediate action to remove the advt. Many see the use of the flag in such a manner as a profound sign of disrespect, clashing with cultural norms and values that hold the national emblem in high regard.

As of now, Remitly has not provided a detailed timeline for the ad’s removal or replacement, but their acknowledgment of the issue has offered some hope to the aggrieved community. Local officials have yet to release an official statement, but the incident has undoubtedly put a spotlight on the sensitivities surrounding national symbols in public advertising.

UPDATE: Paramatta station staff has put barricade on the controversial advt and Remitly’s Ryan Riley has assured the Indian-Australian community that the concerned advt placement at Paramatta station will be removed on June 2: “we are trying to get it fixed ASAP…apologize to the whole community for any offense caused.”

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