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National Flag: Tricolour

Published: Aug 9, 2014 06:40:01 AM IST
Updated: Aug 11, 2014 12:00:12 PM IST
National Flag: Tricolour
Image: Chaitanya Dinesh Surpur

Why was it made a national symbol?
As the idea of India emerged, so did the need for a common banner to unite under. The first such national flag, a tricolour with red, yellow and green strips, was hoisted in Calcutta on August  7, 1906. Over the years, other versions came and went. In 1931, the Congress adopted a tricolour in saffron, white and green, with the spinning wheel in the centre, clearly stating that the colours should not be interpreted as having communal significance. On July, 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as Free India’s flag (with one change: The Dharma Chakra of Ashoka replacing the spinning wheel).

Current Status
For decades, ordinary citizens could not raise the flag, and there were many restrictions on which days it could be hoisted. Industrialist, former MP and president of the Flag Foundation of India (FFI) Naveen Jindal was instrumental in winning the right to fly the national flag for all Indians, via a Supreme Court judgment in 2004. “The national flag,” he says, “is really for the people, by the people and of the people; it cannot be [the] exclusive property of any government.” The goal of the FFI, he says, is to “rekindle the spirit of nationalism and build a strong relationship between Indians and the Tiranga so it becomes a powerful symbol of our Independence and serves as a source of inspiration for all Indians across the globe.”

Correction: This article has been updated. The tricolour flag adopted in 1931 was saffron, white and green and not orange, white and green as stated earlier. Error is regretted.

(This story appears in the 22 August, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Shashank

    Here\'s an article about the national flag, without a single mention of it\'s inventor, Mr Pingali Venkayya. Is this because his last name isn\'t Gandhi? Or do you have any other reason for excluding him?

    on Aug 11, 2014
    • Peter Griffin

      Fairly simple reasoning on our part, Shashank. Mr Venkayya wasn\'t the \'inventor\' or designer of the flag. There were other flags before he presented his design to Gandhiji. And, to the best of my knowledge, the flag he designed was never used: Gandhiji recommended modifications, and that modified version was used as the Congress flag, which later adapted and became Free India\'s flag. If you have sources which document this differently, I\'d be very grateful if you could share them. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      on Aug 12, 2014
      • Sekhar Chakrabarti

        Peter Griffin is absolutely correct. The first Congress flag adopted unofficially in 1921 was made by Pingali Venkayya as suggested by Mahatma Gandhi. Ref Gandhi\'s article titled \"The National Flag\" published in Young India in April 1921.The flag was variously known as Swarag Flag, Congress Flag, Charkha flag. Gandhi called it National Flag. The first OFFICIAL congress flag recommended and adopted by the Congress Working Committee in 1931 was made by Dr N S Hardikar. The National Flag adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22nd July 1947 was designed by Mrs Surayya Badr ud Din.

        on Apr 15, 2016
  • Nikhil Narayanan

    Saffron*, not Orange. Maybe correct that?

    on Aug 11, 2014
    • Peter Griffin

      Thank you for pointing that out, Nikhil. We\'ve made the correction. It was a relic of an earlier version of the piece, which described its various avataars. In the process of editing the piece to fit the constraints of the printed page, that got overlooked. My fault entirely.

      on Aug 11, 2014