Here, I intend to write what comes to my mind about India. This could be about anything, politics, religion, movies or remote happenings. Feel free to check this blog for updates, who knows some could be of some interest to you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Flag story

Wish all fellow Indians a very Happy Republic Day, this day every year excites me.
I wanted to present a little hsitory of the Indian Flag as I was able to gather. I wish soemday I could display the complete set of flags dating back to stone-age.

For now I start with the Mughals - early 15th century to early 18th century. The dynasty lasted till early 19th century.

Flag of the British East India Company of 1700s

Flag of the British East India Company of 1800s

Believed to be the first tricolour unfurled. The flag was first used at an anti-partition rally in Calcutta 7 August 1906. The stars are actually half open lotuses (eight in all). Also known as 'Calcutta flag' or 'Lotus flag'.

This flag of Dr. Annie Besant's and Lokamanya Tilak, associated with the Home Rule Movement of 1917 and hoisted during the Congress session in Calcutta. This has seven stars arranged in the form of the constellation saptarishi the other name of this flag. The presence of the union jack in it made it unacceptable

1916 - The flag had two colors and a 'Charkha' drawn across them but Mahatma Gandhi did not approve of it as he said that in red color Hindu community finds representation and in green Muslim, but all the other communities of India are not represented in this flag. This was the flag approved by Gandhi in 1921. However, the colours are white, green and red, with the charka in dark blue set all over close to the hoist. This flag was not formally adopted by the Indian National Congress, but nevertheless widely used.

1931 - Some people were not at all happy with the communal interpretation of the flag. Keeping all this in view a new flag was designed which was of "Ochre" color. This color signified combined spirtit of both the religons as saffron was the color of Hindu yogis as well as Muslim darvesh. But Sikh community also demanded separate representation in flag or the complete abandonment of religious colors.

This flag was passed at the meeting of Congress Committee in 1931 at Karachi and was adopted as the official flag of the Committee. The colurs were interpreted as, saffron: courage, white: peace and truth, green: faith and prosperity. Charkha symbolized the economic progression and industriousness of the people.

In world war II Indian prisoners of war in North Africa were released to form a Waffen-SS unit, the Azad Hind Legion. Their Colour was a yellow-white-green horizontal tricolour, with the white stripe twice the size of the others and containing a "springing tiger". Lettered in white in the yellow stripe: Azad, and in the green stripe, Hind. They were captured in southern Germany at the end of the war, and shipped back to India to be tried for treason. The Azad Hind (also known as Indian Infantry Regiment 950) took an oath of loyalty to Hitler, Bose and "free India" in September 1942, at which time the Colour may have been presented

While the freedom fighters were working together in designing their independant national identity the country was still under the British rule. This flag Star of India was the flag used for most official purposes. The Star of India had a star with the words Heaven's light our guide around them, and was the badge of the Order of the Star of India, a chivalric order of knighthood.

The Star of India was replaced by the Tiranga (tri-colour) after Independance on the 15th of August 1947 in the independent Republic of India. The spoked Ashoka Chakra (the "wheel of the law" of the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka) replaced the Gandhian spinning wheel of the 1931 INC party to add historical "depth" and separate the national flag from the INC party .

I just realized that I've travelled across about 4 centuries of the evolution of the Indian flag. It scares me to think of the efforts it would take compiling the flags created within free India in just the past half a century to represent various national and regional parties. But, isn't this what we call, Unity in Diversity ?


* Any misinterpretation of facts is regretted, this is just my compilation of public material