Evolution of the Indian Flag

History

The Indian Flag sailed through many changes to arrive at what it is today. These changes reflect the political developments of our country. We present some historical milestones in the evolution of our National Flag.

 

Calcutta Flag

This was the first tricolour unfurled on August 7, 1906 during a protest rally in Calcutta, now Kolkata. The flag had three horizontal bands of equal width with the top being orange, the centre yellow and the bottom green in colour. It had eight half-opened lotus flowers on the top stripe, a picture of the sun and a crescent moon on the bottom stripe and the words 'Vande Mataram' inscribed in the centre.

 

The Berlin Committee Flag

On August 22, 1907 Madame Cama unfurled another tricolour flag in Stuttgart, Germany. This flag had a green stripe on top, saffron in the centre and red at the bottom. The green stood 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. Madame Cama, Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma jointly designed the flag. After the outbreak of World War I, this flag became known as the Berlin Committee Flag.

 

Home Rule Movement

This flag was used during the Home Rule Movement in 1917. It was adopted by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant. The seven white stars signified the Saptarishi constellation which is sacred to the Hindus. However, this flag was not very popular among Indians.

 

All India Congress Committee

This flag was unofficially adopted in 1921 by the All India Congress Committee. The white, green and red colours represented the minority religions, Muslims and Hindus respectively and was widely used even though it wasn't officially adopted by the Indian National Congress.

 

Indian National Congress

The year 1931 was a landmark in the history of the flag. A resolution adopting a tricolour flag as the National Flag was passed by the Indian National Congress. It had a spinning wheel symbolising the progress of the nation.

 

The Flag of India

This is the present Indian flag which was designed by Pingali Venkayya. The Asoka Chakra replaced the spinning wheel in the middle of the flag. The chakra was taken from the Lion Capital of Asoka which is located at the top of the Asoka pillar at Sarnath. The official flag specifications state that the flag should be made out of khadi, which is a special type of handmade cloth that Mahatma Gandhi used to make himself.

 

HISTORY OF FLAGS

- The idea of flying a flag grew from the requirements of ancient warfare and the battlefield.

- Shields were painted with emblems to identify friends and foes.

- Warriors needed to know where their leaders were thus the custom of carrying a pole was adopted.

- An emblem such as a shield, animal or religious device was attached to the pole for identification.

- The emblems were also used for identity and to cover suits of armour, thus giving birth to the Coat of Arms.

- These emblems were the forerunners of modern flags.

- The Romans were the first to use a cloth flag. This flag was square and fastened to cross bars at the end of a spear. The idea of fastening a flag to the side of a pole soon followed.

- Strict rules are followed when designing an emblem and creating a modern flag.

 

CODE OF CONDUCT

Being a national symbol the Indian Flag has to be respected by every Indian. Here are certain dos and don'ts associated with the Indian Flag.

- When the National Flag is raised the saffron colour band should be on top.

- No flag or emblem should be placed either above the National Flag or to its right.

- All other flags are to be placed to the left of the National Flag if they are hung in a line.

- When the National Flag is carried in a procession or parade, it shall be on the marching right or in front of the centre of the line, if there is a line of other flags.

- Normally the National Flag should be flown over important government buildings like the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Parliament House, the Supreme Court of India, the High Courts, the Secretariats and the Commissionersí office.

- The National Flag or any imitation of it must not be used for the purpose of trade, business or profession.

- The National Flag should always be taken down in the evening at sunset.

 

Protocol of handling the Indian Flag

- The National Flag must never touch the ground or water, be used as a tablecloth or draped in front of a platform or cover a statue, plaque or cornerstone.

- The National Flag may not be intentionally placed upside down, dipped in anything or hold any objects other than flower petals before unfurling.

- No sort of lettering may be inscribed on the National Flag.

- It is also insulting to display the flag in a frayed or dirty state. The same rule applies to the flagpoles used to hoist the flag, which should always be in a proper state of maintenance.

- The flag is allowed to be flown on the aircraft of the President, Vice-President or Prime Minister if they are visiting a foreign country.

- If the flag is destroyed or contaminated under any circumstances, it must not be thrown away disrespectfully, but should be annihilated in private by burning or any other respectful method like immersion into the Ganga or burial with homage and regard.

 

SOME INTERESTING FACTS

- Madame Cama was the first person to hoist the Indian flag on foreign soil on August 22, 1907 in Stuttgart, Germany.

- The Indian flag was hoisted on the highest mountain peak of the world, Mount Everest, on May 29, 1953.

- The Indian National Flag flew to space in 1984 when Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma went to space. The flag was attached as a medallion on his space suit.

- January 26, 2002 was a very special day for Indians. 54 years after the tricolour was adopted as the national flag, ordinary citizens were allowed to hoist it thanks to a public interest petition filed by Navin Jindal, a young industrialist from Madhya Pradesh. Prior to this, the general public could hoist the flag only on a few selected national days like Independence Day and Republic Day.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

- The study of flags is called 'vexillology'. Your interest in flags makes you a vexillologist!

- Hoisting is the act or function of raising a flag, as on a rope.

- When the Indian flag is hoisted to half of the potential height of the flagpole to denote grief and mourning it is called as 'Half Staff' or 'Half Mast'. This is performed by first raising the flag to the top and then lowering it halfway.

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