Friday, August 31, 2007

The remarkable journey of our national flag

In the year 1931, August 31 was declared as India's national flag day. In its 76th year, let’s take a look at its evolution from being a representative of communities to that of a nation as a whole.

The first national flag of India looked like - red colour at the bottom symbolizing strength, saffron in the middle for victory and the green at the top for boldness and enthusiasm. Eight lotuses symbolized the eight provinces of British India, while the sun and the moon represented the Hindu and Muslim faiths.

Vande Mataram was inscribed in the center in devnagari. Designed by Vir Savarkar, it was hoisted in 1906.

This was followed by Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak's flag of five red and four green stripes arranged horizontally and alternately.

The first Indian flag.
The seven stars on it stood for the saptarishi or the seven sages held sacred by the Hindus while the crescent moon and star represented the Muslims. The upper left portion carried the union jack. While this symbolized the goal of a dominion status, it was generally unacceptable.

Through Gandhi, came the first tricolor. Pingali Venkayya, an Andhra youth prepared a flag of two

Gandhi suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the charkha to symbolize progress.

But the seven-member committee appointed by the congress looked into designing a flag that did not represent communities. This resulted in a suggestion of a plain saffron flag with a charkha in reddish brown in the extreme left-hand corner. But this was rejected by the AICC as well.

The resolution to adopt a tricolour flag in 1931, clearly states that it bore no communal significance. Saffron stood for courage and sacrifice White for truth and peace. And Green for faith and chivalry.

It also carried a charkha in blue on the white band which was later replaced by Ashoka's Dharma chakra symbolizing dynamism and constant change. It echoed the words of Sarojini Naidu - "Under this flag there is no difference between a prince and a pauper, rich and poor, man and woman. I bid every Indian to rise and salute this flag."

colours representing the two major communities.


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