When you talk about the flag of India, you can’t miss the bold tricolor—saffron, white, and green, creating a visual feast that’s hard to ignore. Right smack in the middle, stealing the show, is the navy blue Ashoka Chakra. It’s not just colors on cloth; it’s a symbol that packs a punch.
So, what’s the deal with this flag, you ask? Think of it as a canvas that paints the ideals and values of the Republic of India. We’re talking about freedom, justice, peace, and diversity – the very essence of this incredible nation. And here’s the kicker – this emblematic flag didn’t just materialize out of thin air.
Picture this: the flag of India has seen its fair share of glow-ups throughout history, reflecting the twists and turns, the highs and lows of India’s journey. It’s like a visual timeline of the nation’s evolution, mirroring the diverse phases and movements that have shaped its identity.
In this blog post, we will explore how the flag of India changed over the years and what each change represents. we will cover the following points:
- The origin and evolution of the flag of India before 1947, starting from the first unofficial flag of the Indian National Congress in 1906 to the Swaraj flag designed by Pingali Venkayya in 1921.
- The adoption and modification of the flag of India after 1947, starting from the Constituent Assembly meeting on 22 July 1947 to the present day.
- The rules and regulations governing the use and display of the flag of India, as laid out by the Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems.
- The significance and relevance of the flag of India in the contemporary context.
The Pre-Independence Era
The flag of India has a long and illustrious history that dates back to the pre-independence era. During this period, the flag of India was not a single or official symbol, but rather a collection of various flags that were used by different groups and leaders to express their political and social aspirations.
Here are some of the most notable flags that were used before 1947:
The first unofficial flag of the Indian National Congress
This flag was hoisted by the Indian National Congress (INC) at its annual session in Calcutta in 1906.
It was a horizontal tricolor of green, yellow, and red tricolor, showcased eight lotuses, “Vande Mataram” in Devanagari, and a crescent moon with a sun. A vibrant emblem of India’s early quest for freedom.
The flag was designed by Sachindra Prasad Bose and Hemchandra Kanungo and was inspired by the flag of the Bengal partition movement.
The flag symbolized the unity of the Hindus and the Muslims, the loyalty to the motherland, and the hope for self-rule.
The Berlin Committee flag
This flag was used by the Berlin Committee, a group of Indian revolutionaries based in Germany during the First World War.
It was a horizontal tricolor of orange, white, and green, showcasing seven stars on orange, “Vande Mataram” on yellow, and a sun, crescent moon, and star on the green band.
The flag was designed by Bhikaji Cama, a prominent Indian nationalist and feminist, and was first unfurled at the International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart in 1907 and Sachindra Prasad Bose.
The flag represented the courage and strength of the Indian people, the solidarity with the international socialist movement, and the resistance against British colonial rule.
The Home Rule flag
This flag was used by the Home Rule League, a political movement that demanded self-government for India within the British Empire.
The Home Rule League flew a distinctive flag: a red and green horizontal tricolor with the Union Jack in the top left corner, seven stars in the middle, and a white crescent and star at the top right.
The flag was designed by Annie Besant, a British theosophist and activist, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak and was first hoisted in Madras in 1917
The flag indicated the allegiance to the British Crown, the harmony of the Hindu and Muslim communities, and the demand for greater autonomy for India.
The Swaraj flag
This flag was adopted by the INC as its official flag in 1931. It was a horizontal tricolor of saffron, white, and green, with a dark blue charkha (spinning wheel) in the center.
The flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya, a freedom fighter and agriculturalist, whereas Mahatma Gandhi suggested the inclusion of the spinning wheel at the center of the flag. It was based on the flag of the Indian National Army led by Subhas Chandra Bose.
The flag signified the sacrifice, purity, and prosperity of the Indian people, the importance of the khadi (hand-spun cloth) industry, and the goal of complete independence or swaraj.
These flags were not only symbols of Indian nationalism but also instruments of the Indian freedom struggle.
They were used to mobilize the masses, to challenge the British authority, and to inspire the patriots.
They were also subjected to repression, confiscation, and burning by the British government, which considered them seditious and illegal.
However, the flag of India was not a static or fixed entity, but rather a dynamic and evolving one, that changed with the changing times and circumstances.
The Post-Independence Era
The flag of India underwent a major transformation after the independence of India from British rule in 1947.
Flag of India became the official and national symbol of the newly formed Republic of India and was given a legal and constitutional status.
The flag of India also underwent some modifications and refinements, to make it more suitable and representative of the Indian reality.
Here are some of the key changes that took place after 1947:
The Constituent Assembly meeting
This was the first and most important step in the adoption and modification of the flag of India after 1947. The Constituent Assembly, which was the body that drafted the Constitution of India, met on 22 July 1947 to decide on the national flag of India.
The Assembly adopted a resolution that stated: “The National Flag of India shall be horizontal tricolor of deep saffron (Kesari), white and dark green in equal proportion.”
In the center of the white band, there shall be a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra, the wheel of law in the Sarnath Lion Capital.
This design of the National Flag was approved by the Constituent Assembly of India on 22 July 1947.
The resolution also specified the dimensions and proportions of the flag and the occasions and manner of hoisting the flag.
The resolution was based on the recommendations of a committee headed by Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, which considered various proposals and suggestions for the national flag.
The Ashoka Chakra
This was the most significant and noticeable change in the flag of India after 1947. The Ashoka Chakra, or the wheel of law, replaced the charkha, or the spinning wheel, in the center of the flag.
Ashoka Chakra was taken from the Sarnath Lion Capital, which was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, and which is also the national emblem of India.
The Ashoka Chakra has 24 spokes, which represent the 24 principles of Buddhism, such as righteousness, compassion, wisdom, and justice.
Ashoka Chakra also symbolizes the eternal cycle of life and death, the continuity of the Indian civilization, and the dynamism of the Indian culture.
The Ashoka Chakra was chosen to replace the charkha for several reasons, such as to avoid confusion with the flag of the Indian National Congress, to emphasize the secular and universal nature of the Indian state, and to honor the ancient and glorious heritage of India.
The Khadi Cloth
This was another important and subtle change in the flag of India after 1947. The khadi cloth, or the hand-spun and hand-woven cloth, became the mandatory and exclusive material for the flag of India.
The khadi cloth was originally promoted by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, as a symbol of self-reliance, dignity, and resistance against the British exploitation of the Indian textile industry.
Khadi cloth also represented the simplicity, humility, and honesty of the Indian people, and the spirit of the non-violence and civil disobedience movement.
The khadi cloth was made compulsory for the flag of India to preserve and promote the indigenous and traditional craft of India, to ensure the uniformity and quality of the flag, and to pay tribute to the contribution and sacrifice of Mahatma Gandhi and other freedom fighters.
These changes were not merely cosmetic or superficial, but rather meaningful and significant. They reflected the vision and values of the Indian Constitution, such as democracy, secularism, socialism, and unity in diversity. They also expressed the identity and aspirations of the Indian nation, such as sovereignty, integrity, development, and peace.
The Flag Code and Usage
The flag of India is not only a symbol but also a responsibility. The flag of India is governed by a set of rules and regulations, which are meant to ensure the proper and respectful use and display of the flag by private citizens and public authorities. These rules and regulations are laid out by the Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems.
Here are some of the main points of the Flag Code and Usage:
The Flag Code of India
This is the main document that prescribes the dos and don’ts regarding the flag of India. It was first issued in 1950, and then amended in 2002, to incorporate the fundamental right of the citizens to hoist the flag on any day and occasion, subject to certain restrictions and conditions. The Flag Code of India covers various aspects of the flag, such as the manufacture, supply, display, disposal, and offenses and penalties.
The occasions and manners of hoisting the flag
The flag of India can be hoisted on any day and occasion, by any person, institution, or organization, provided that it is done with due respect and dignity.
Flag of India should be hoisted at sunrise and lowered at sunset, except when it is flown at night under special circumstances. The flag of India should be hoisted on a flagstaff or a mast, and should not touch the ground or any other object.
The flag of India should be hoisted briskly and lowered slowly, and should not be dipped or inclined to any person or thing. Flag of India should be hoisted on the right side of the building or the vehicle and should be placed in the center and above all other flags, if any.
The respect and protection of the flag
The flag of India should be treated with utmost respect and honor, and should not be subjected to any insult or indignity. Flag of India should not be used for any commercial or personal purpose, such as covering a table, a chair, a wall, or a vehicle. The flag of India should not be printed or embroidered on any cloth, paper, or other material, except for official purposes. The flag of India should not be intentionally displayed
In this blog post, I have explored how the flag of India changed over the years and what each change represents. I have shown how the Indian flag has reflected the political and social aspirations of the Indian people and the freedom movement before 1947, and how it represented the values and identity of the Republic of India and its citizens after 1947.
We have also discussed how the flag of India is governed by the Flag Code of India and other laws that ensure its proper and respectful use and display.
The flag of India is a symbol of the history and culture of India, and a responsibility of the Indian people. It is a source of pride and inspiration for the Indians and a sign of respect and friendship for the world.