Indian National Flag History
Indian National Flag History

On July 22, 1947, when members of the Constituent Assembly of India satisfied in the Constitution Hall in Delhi, the first requirement on the agenda was reportedly by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, about adopting a national flag for freedom India

It was proposed that “the National Flag of India shall be horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (kesari), white and dark green in equal proportion.” The white band was to have a wheel in navy blue (the charkha being replaced by the chakra), which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.

While the finer nuances were subsequently gone over in the conference, the final design of the Indian National Flag, hoisted by Prime Minister Nehru on August 16, 1947 at Red Fort, had a history of numerous years preceding independence.

The first national flag of India.

While an Indian flag was apparently developed by Sister Nivedita, an Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda, in between 1904-1906, probably the first national flag of India is said to have actually been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in Kolkata at the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park).

It comprised 3 horizontal strips of red, yellow and green, with Vande Mataram written in the middle. Thought to have actually been created by freedom activists Sachindra Prasad Bose and Hemchandra Kanungo, the red strip on the flag had symbols of the sun and a crescent moon, and the green strip had eight half-open lotuses.

Next year, in 1907, Madame Cama and her group of banished revolutionaries hoisted an Indian flag in Germany in 1907– this was the first Indian flag to be raised in a foreign land.

In 1917, Dr Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak adopted a newly designed flag as part of the Home Rule Movement. It had 5 alternate red and 4 green horizontal stripes, and seven stars in the saptarishi configuration. A white crescent and star inhabited one top corner, and the other had Union Jack.

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The origins of the present-day flag

The style of the Indian tricolour is largely credited to Pingali Venkayya, an Indian freedom fighter who reportedly very first fulfilled Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa throughout the 2nd Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), when he was posted there as part of the British Indian Army.

Years of research study entered into developing the national flag. In 1916, he even published a book with possible designs of Indian flags. At the All India Congress Committee in Bezwada in 1921, Venkayya again fulfilled Gandhi and proposed a standard style of the flag, consisting of two red and green bands to symbolize the two major neighborhoods, Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi arguably suggested adding a white band to represent peace and the rest of the communities residing in India, and a spinning wheel to symbolize the development of the nation.

A number of modifications continued to be made till a decade later, when in 1931 the Congress Committee fulfilled in Karachi and embraced the tricolour as our national flag. Red was changed with saffron and the order of the colours was changed. The flag was to have no spiritual analysis.

A Flag for Independent India

The Tricolour was become the flag of Independent India. Saffron on top symbolises “strength and courage”, white in the center represents “peace and truth” and green at the bottom mean “fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land”. The Ashok Chakra with 24 spokes replaced the spinning wheel as the symbol on the flag. It is planned “to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation”.

Debates regarding its developer

In 2013, a debate emerged when historian Panduranga Reddy stated that the nationwide flag was created by Hyderabad-born Surayya Tyabji. With the resolution in the Constituent Assembly mentioning no names, the attributions are open to argument. While there is no consensus on who suggested the change from charkha to the Ashok Chakra in 1947, in 2018, in an article titled “How the Tricolour and Lion Emblem Really Came to Be”, Laila Tyabji, founding member of crafts NGO Dastkar, composed that her parents, Badruddin and Surayya Tyabji, had actually suggested the change.

The site of the Flag Foundation of India, a non-profit organisation formed by industrialist and Congress politician Naveen Jindal, states, “The design of the National-flag for Independent India submitted by Mrs. Suriaya Badr-ud-Din Tyabi was finally approved and accepted by the Flag Committee on 17th July 1947. She was an artist of repute and her husband B.H.F.Tyabji (ICS) was then a Deputy Secretary in the Secretariat of the Constituent Assembly.”

Venkayya, who passed away in 1963, was posthumously honoured with a postage stamp in 2009 for his contribution towards Indian liberty battle. In 2014, his name was likewise proposed for the Bharat Ratna.


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