13 August 2007

Indian National Flag History

Do you know that Indian National Flag was created after many controversies?

Indian national flag is uniquely designed to serve as an insignia of a India. But how many of us know about Indian national flag, its history and its significance? It symbolizes sovereignty not only for us, but for all people of our motherland. The history of the evolution of the tricolor dates back to 1904 when Sister Nivedita, an Irish...

disciple of Swami Vivekananda, came up with the first flag of India, a red square shaped flag with a yellow inset; it depicted a thunderbolt with a white lotus alongside it in the centre. The word "Bande Mataram" adorned the flag in Bengali. The red color signified the struggle for liberty, yellow signified victory, and the white lotus implied purity. But gradually, the flag went through its subsequent stages of evolution.

The Calcutta Flag

The All India Sanskrit Congress that convened in Kolkata in 1924 suggested the inclusion of saffron and the mace of Lord Vishnu as the symbol of Hinduism. Later that year, it was suggested that an earthy red color would be better as it signified the spirit of renunciation, universal among the Hindu yogis and sanyasis as well as the Muslim fakirs. The Sikhs also stepped into the arena and demanded either include a yellow color that would represent them, or to discard religious symbolism altogether.

Due to these controversies, the Congress Working Committee appointed a seven-member flag committee on 2 April 1931 to sort out these trivial issues. A resolution was passed noting that the national flag of India would be based on equality of all the religions and there would be no symbol whatsoever relating to the religious sentiments. A flag was designed which would consist of just one color, saffron and a charka at upper hoist. Indian National Congress did not accept this flag, as it would seem to project a communal ideology in the later years to come.

The proposed saffron flag with the brown chakra in 1931.

A few days before India gained its independence in August 1947, a Constituent Assembly was fashioned to discuss the design of the Indian flag. They set up an impromptu committee headed by Rajendra Prasad and consisting of Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, C. Rajagopalachari, KM Munshi, and BR Ambedkar as its members. After many negotiations on this affair they came up with a decision that the flag of the Indian National Congress would be adopted as the National Flag of India with suitable alterations, to make it acceptable to all parties and communities, and making it devoid of any religious dogmas or principles.
Indian National Flag

A flag gradually was developed with three colors - saffron, white and green and an Ashoke charka in the centre of the white band in navy blue. Thus our National Flag emerged as a symbol of purity, freedom, sovereignty, and above all a symbol of the Democratic Republic of India.
The saffron color denotes renunciation of political leaders towards material gains in life. The white depicts enlightenment and truth to guide our conduct. The green symbolizes our relation to the soil, to the plant life, on which all other life forms depend. The wheel in the centre of the white strip in navy blue represents the law of dharma. The flag was unfurled for the first time on 15 August 1947 thereby proclaiming to the world that India was now a free country.

In 1950, India became a republic. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) brought out some specifications regarding the usage and conduct of the flag in 1951. These were revised thoroughly in 1964 and further modified on 17 August 1968. It covers all the essential requirements relating to the manufacture of the Indian flag which include sizes, dye color, chromatic values, brightness, and other minute details of its preparation. The ratio of the height of the flag to its width is 2:3. Defective manufacture of the flags is considered to a serious offence liable to a fine or a jail or both.

Currently there is only one accredited flag production unit in India which is based in Hubli. Hand-spun cloth is the only material allowed to be used for the national flag. Raw materials for khadi are restricted to cotton, silk and wool.

Prior to 2002, the general public of India could not fly the national flag publicly except on selected national holidays. Only government offices and higher such functionaries could do so. The Union Parliament amended the Indian Flag Code which was brought to effect in 2002, allowing the general public to hoist the flag on all days of the year, provided they safeguarded the dignity, honor and respect of the flag.

The flag should always be hoisted at sunrise and lowered down at sunset, irrespective of the weather conditions. When the national flag is flown outdoors with the national flag of other countries, it must be the furthest to the right of all the flags on display. In such a condition the flags of other countries should be arranged alphabetically according to the Latin system of alphabets. All the flags should be more or less of the same size, with no flag being larger than the Indian flag. The national flag of India must always be hoisted first and lowered last. There are traditional rules of respect that should be observed when holding or displaying the flag. It should be remembered that the flag is the symbol of our freedom and it is our own duty to preserve it. The hoisting of our national flag is immediately followed by the singing of the national anthem.


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