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Wave your flag!

SWATI ARUN
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On Independence Day we hoist our country's flag and salute it. But do you know the history behind the flag?

The Tricolour: Distinctive, bearing colours of unity. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
The Tricolour: Distinctive, bearing colours of unity. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Evolution of the Tricolour

The first national flag in India is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta. The flag was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green.

The second flag was hoisted in Paris by Madame Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries in 1907. This was similar to the first flag except that the top strip had only one lotus but seven stars denoting the Saptarishi. This flag was also exhibited at a socialist conference in Berlin.

The third flag was designed in 1917 when our political struggle had taken a definite turn. Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak hoisted it during the Home Rule Movement. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately, with seven stars in the saptarishi configuration super-imposed on them. In the left-hand top corner (the pole end) was the Union Jack. There was also a white crescent and star in one corner.

During the session of the All India Congress Committee at Bezwada in 1921 (now Vijayawada) an Andhra youth prepared a flag and took it to Gandhiji. It was made up of two colours-red and green-representing the two major communities i.e. Hindus and Muslims. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the Nation.The Charkha flag was approved by Mahatma Gandhi.

The year 1931 was a landmark in the history of the flag. A resolution was passed adopting a Tricolour as our national flag. This flag, the forerunner of the present one, was saffron, white and green with Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel at the centre. It was, however, clearly stated that it bore no communal significance and was to be interpreted thus. This National Flag was formally adopted by Congress.

On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as Free India National Flag. After the advent of Independence, the colours and their significance remained the same. Only the Dharma Charkha of Emperor Asoka was adopted in place of the spinning wheel as the emblem on the flag. Thus, the Tricolour of the Congress Party eventually became the Tricolour of Independent India.

The final flag which was a symbol of free India was designed By Pingali Venkayya.

As India celebrates its 64 years of Independence we take pride in hoisting our Tricolour. Do you know the history behind the flag? Pingali Venkayya designed the Indian national flag. He was born on August 2, 1876, in Bhatlapenumarru, near Machilipatnam. Today the Indian Flag is a symbol of freedom and progress. It is a horizontal tricolour — deep saffron at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. In the centre of the white band, is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma charka , or “The Wheel of Law”.

After high school at Machlipatnam, Pingali went to Colombo to complete his Senior Cambridge. He worked as a railway guard and a government employee at Bellary before moving to Lahore.

Geology was his forte and in Andhra Pradesh, this helped him spend most of his fortune experimenting with developing new crop cultivars and to become an authority on diamond mining, earning him the name ‘Diamond Venkayya'.

During the national conference of Indian National Congress at Kakinada, Venkayya suggested that India should have a national flag and Mahatma Gandhi liked this proposal. He suggested that Venkayya could come up with a design. During the national conference at Vijayawada, Venkayya proposed a tricolour with Ashoka Chakra at the middle, on July 22, 1947. Gandhi liked the flag, and the design was later adopted as the National Flag of India.

That design is used even today.


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