THE HEROIC AND INSPIRING STORY OF OUR NATIONAL FLAG
FIRST PAGE OF STATESMAN AUGUST 15, 1947
Picture Courtesy: V.Kalyanam, Personal Secretary to Mahatma Gandhi (1943-1948)
“AND WHEN WE VIEW A FLAG, WHICH TO THE EYE IS BEAUTIFUL, AND TO CONTEMPLATE ITS RISE AND ORIGIN INSPIRES A SENSATION OF SUBLIME DELIGHT, OUR NATIONAL HONOR MUST UNITE WITH OUR INTERESTS TO PREVENT INJURY TO THE ONE, OR INSULT TO THE OTHER.” –THOMAS PAINE
“ONE FLAG, ONE LAND, ONE HEART, ONE HAND, ONE NATION, EVERMORE!” –OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES (Sr)
“THERE IS THE NATIONAL FLAG. HE MUST BE COLD, INDEED, WHO CAN LOOK UPON ITS FOLDS RIPPLING IN THE BREEZE WITHOUT PRIDE OF COUNTRY.” - CHARLES SUMMER.
Tomorrow (15-8-2011) will be the 64th Anniversary of our national Freedom and Independence which we achieved on the 15th of August 1947. I offer my salutations to our Tricolour National Flag on the eve of our sacred day of Independence tomorrow morning. We are all very proud of our tricoloured National Flag. Lord Acton was right when he wrote that patriotism is in political life what faith is in religion. On the day of our Independence we should recall with nostalgia and affection the selfless sacrifices made by millions of Indians in our struggle for freedom.
The historic evolution of the Indian National Flag is indeed an inspiring story. The things that our flag stands for were created by the blood, toil, sweat and tears of our people marching towards freedom under the inspiring leadership of great leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mahatma Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Rajaji and Jawaharlal Nehru and many other heroic captains in our epic struggle for freedom in all parts of India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari , and from Rann of Cutch to Bay of Bengal.
Everything our flag stands for was written by their lives. Our flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history. The inseparable nature of national unity and freedom was best expressed by Jawaharlal Nehru who became the youngest President of the Indian National Congress at its annual session in Lahore on 29 December 1929. At that session, the Indian National Congress adopted the attainment of Poorna Swaraj as the immediate objective of India.
SISTER NIVEDITA’S FLAG (1905)
At the turn of the century, the quest for a National Flag assumed greater urgency with the rise of Swadeshi Movement. Sister Nivedita, an Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda was one of the first to conceive of a National Flag for India. In 1905, she designed one with Vajra (the celebrated weapon of Lord Indra) as its emblem. In a letter dated February 5, 1905 to one Miss Macleod, she wrote:
"We have chosen a design for a National Flag- the thunderbolt-and have already made one. Unfortunately I took the Chinese war-flag as my ideal and made it black on red. This does not appeal to India, so the neck is to be yellow on scarlet.” Keeping this in view, Sister Nivedita got anther flag made by her pupils, in scarlet and yellow. It was displayed in the exhibition organised by the Congress in its annual session at Calcutta in December 1906. Sister Nivedita's flag was square in shape, with a red field It had a hundred and eight jyotis all along the border and vajra in yellow at the centre with Vande on the left and Mataram on the right of it, in Bengali script. The legend Vande Mataram was also in yellow.
CALCUTTA FLAG 1906 (First Flag)
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 now Kolkata. The flag was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green. This Flag was unfurled on August 7, 1906, during a protest rally against the Partition of Bengal, by Schindra Prasad Bose in Parsi Bagan Square in Calcutta. That Flag came to be known as the Calcutta Flag. It had eight half-opened lotus flowers on the top stripe, and a picture of the sun and a crescent moon on the bottom stripe with the words Vande Mataram inscribed in the centre in the Devanagari script.
MADAME CAMA’S FLAG 1907 (Second Flag)
The second flag was hoisted in Stuttgart in Germany on August 22 1907 by Madame Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries in 1907. That flag had green at the top, saffron in the center and red at the bottom, the green standing for Islam and the saffron for both Hinduism and Buddhism. The flag had eight lotuses in a line on the green band representing the eight provinces of British India. The words Vande Mataram, in the Devanagari script, inscribed the central band. On the lowest band, towards the hoist of the flag, a crescent, and towards the fly, a sun appeared. Bhikaiji Cama, Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma jointly designed the flag.
After the outbreak of World War I, the above Flag of Madame Cama became known as the Berlin Committee Flag after the Indian Revolutionaries adopted it at the Berlin Committee in 1914. Indian troops actively used that flag in Mesopotamia during the First World War.
GHADDAR FLAG 1913 (Third Flag)
Patriots also used the Ghadar Party flag in the United States as a symbol for India for a short period of time.
1916 (Fourth Flag)
The Fourth Flag went up 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. On the upper left quadrant, the Union Flag appeared signifying the Dominion Status that the movement sought to achieve. A crescent and a star, both in white, display in top fly. Seven white stars show, sacred to Hindus, arranged as in the Saptarishi constellation (the constellation Ursa Major). That flag never become popular among the masses.
An interesting but less known fact that I have discovered is that C.Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) published a book titled “India’s Flag” in 1923 and it was published by Ganesh and Co., Madras. I have presented the Front Cover of the Book by Rajaji. This must have been a very path breaking and exciting book but very unfortunately I have not been able to trace the written text of this book. Ganesh and Company Madras and G.A.Natesan and Company in Madras were 2 of the leading publishers of Nationalist Literature between 1915 and 1947.
Pingali Venkayya’s Flag of 1921 (Fourth Flag)
The AICC met at a historic two day session at Bezwada (March 31 and April 1, 1921). It was at this session that this frail middle aged gentleman, Pingali Venkayya, approached Gandhi with the flag he designed for India. Pingali’s flag was made of two colours, red and green representing the two major communities of the country.
1921 (Fifth Flag) Pingali Venkayya’s Flag Modified by Gandhiji
Thus the Indian flag was born but it was not officially accepted by any resolution of the All India Congress Committee till 1931. Hansraj of Jallandar suggested the representation of the charkha, symbolising progress and the common man. Gandhi amended, insisting on the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining minority communities of India. Gandhiji’s informal approval of the above Flag (Fifth Flag)in 1921 made it very popular and it was hoisted at all Congress sessions between 1921 and 1931.
(Sixth Flag) (Seventh Flag) (Eighth Flag)
Karachi session in 1931
Later, the final resolution on a flag passed when the Congress committee met at Karachi in 1931. They adopted the tricolour flag featuring three horizontal strips of saffron, white and green, with a "Charkha" in the center. They interpreted colors thus: saffron for courage; white for truth and peace; green for faith and prosperity. The "Charkha" symbolised the economic regeneration of India and the industriousness of its people.
THE FLAG OF AZAD HIND, WAS HOISTED BY NETAJI SUBASH CHANDRA BOSE ON 14TH APRIL 1944 AT MANIPUR
At the same time the Indian National Army of Netaji subash Chandra Bose used a variant of the earlier 1931 Flag ( approved at Karachi in 1931) that included the words "Azad Hind" with a springing tiger in lieu of the "Charkha" signifying Subhash Chandra Bose's armed struggle against the British Raj as opposed to Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence. That tricolour was hoisted for the first time on Indian soil in Manipur by Subhash Chandra Bose on 14th April 1944.
Courtesy: Shri V.Kalyanam, Personal secretary to Mahatma Gandhi from 1943 to 30th January 1948
India became independent on 15 August 1947. The tricoloured Indian National Flag with Ashok Chakra in the centre was presented to the Constituent Assembly by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 22 July 1947. and it was adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the Official Flag of Independent India
INDIAN NATIONAL FLAG ON 15TH AUGUST 1947
This Flag was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on July 22nd 1947 (Tuesday)
Unfurling the above National Flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi on 15th August 1947 (Tuesday) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru declared:
“I HAVE JUST UNFURLED THE NATIONAL FLAG OF HINDUSTAN. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS FLAG? IT IS SYMBOL OF INDIA'S UNITY. THE FLAG UNDER WHICH YOU STAND TODAY AND WHICH YOU HAVE JUST SALUTED DOES NOT BELONG TO ANY PARTICULAR SECTION OF SOCIETY OR COMMUNITY. IT IS A THE FLAG OF THE COUNTRY.”
About 70 days before India gained its freedom on 15th August 1947, the Constituent Assembly formed an Ad Hoc Committee on June 6, 1947 to discuss and finalise the flag of the India. This Committee was headed by Rajendra Prasad and Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, C. Rajagopalachari, KM Munshi and B.R. Ambedkar were its members. This Flag Committee, finally reached its conclusion when the Constituent Assembly adopted the National Flag of India in its present form on 22nd July 1947, 23 days before India's independence from the British yoke on August 15, 1947. They selected a flag with three colours, Saffron, White and Green with the Ashoka Chakra. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who later became India's first Vice President, clarified the adopted flag and described its significance as follows:
“Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The "Ashoka Chakra" in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change.”