New Delhi, July 25 -- Abdul Gaffar Ansari's family has been making national flags since 1954. Every year, the orders - which came from as far as Assam, Orissa, and Bihar-- peaked two months before Independence Day, and he ramped up production, making about 5,000 cotton flags every day. But this year has been unlike any other.

It is only three weeks to go for Independence Day, and he is making only 200 flags as most of his customers are not turning up. "Normally we would make about 300,000 national flags for Independence Day, but I am afraid we may not make 20,000 this year. I have not seen an Independence Day like this before," says Ansari, 70, who runs Bharat Handloom Cloth House in Sadar Bazar, one of the oldest manufacturers of flags in...