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National flag: Origin and interesting facts

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

By D.Ramki, III year B.A., LL.B.. The Central Law College, Salem


The first national flag of India was designed by Sister Nivedita, an Irish discipline of Swami Vivekananda, between 1904- 1906. It was first hosted on August 7, 1906, in Kolkata at the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park). It had three horizontal stripes of green, yellow and red. The word ‘Vande Mataram’ is written on the yellow stripe, the symbol of Sun and Crescent moon is on the red strip and eight open lotuses are on the green stripe.


1907:

Some alternatives were brought on the national flag, the saffron stripe is on the top with seven stars and the green stripe is on the bottom with a Sun and a Moon.


1917:

Dr. Anne Besant and Lokmanya Tilak adopted a new flag as part of the Home Rule Movement. It had five alternate red and four green horizontal stripes and seven stars in the saptarishi configuration and a moon with a star.


1921:

A new flag was introduced by Mahatma Gandhi. It had white at the top, green in the middle and red at the bottom. An image of ‘charkha’ was drawn across the three stripes, symbolizing the unification of all communities.


1931:

But most of the people didn’t appreciate the community-based design of the national flag. The colour of the flag changed to saffron at the top, white in the middle and green at the bottom with an image of the charkha at the white stripe. This flag was approved at the Congress Committee meeting in 1931.


Origin of the present-day flag:

The design of the Indian tricolour is largely attributed to Pingali Venkayya, an Indian freedom fighter. Years of research went into designing of Indian flags. In 1916, Pingali Venkayya published a book having 30 possible designs. He suggested a design to Mahatma Gandhi which consists of two red and green stripes to symbolize the two major religions, Hindu and Muslim. Gandhi suggested that adding a white strip to represent peace and also a spinning wheel to symbolize the progress of the country. The Congress Committee met in Karachi and adopted the tricolour as our national flag on July 22, 1947. The flag has saffron, white and green horizontal stripes with no religious interpretation. Saffron on top symbolizes ‘strength and courage’; white in the middle symbolizes ‘peace and truth’; green at the bottom symbolizes ‘fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land’ and the Ashoka Chakra on the white stripe with 24 spokes represents ‘to inspire every Indian to work tirelessly for 24 hours’ and also represents ’24 qualities of a person’. In other words, these spokes can be termed as the 24 religious paths made for humans. It is also called ‘the wheel of duty’.


Flying the national flag is a fundamental right

Before 2002, Indian citizens could hoist the national flag only during Independence Day and Republic Day. In 2002 the Hon’ble Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment that hosting the national flag is a fundamental right to every citizen. Hence, every citizen has the right to hoist the national flag with respect, dignity and honour.


The National flag can fly even at night

After the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgment, hosting the national flag is the fundamental right to everyone. In 2009, the Central Government of India allowed the Indian Citizens to hoist the national flag even at night time. This is subject to the condition that the flagpole is at least 100 meters tall and the flag itself well illuminated.

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