Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Story of our National Flag


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National flag

Mains level : NA

The final design of the Indian National Flag, hoisted by PM Nehru on August 16, 1947, at Red Fort, had a history of several decades preceding independence.

Note various personalities involved in the development of our National flag. It may be no wonder to accept a personality-based question on such topics.

Story of our National Flag: A timeline

(1) Public display for first time

  • Arguably the first national flag of India is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in Kolkata at the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park).
  • It comprised three horizontal stripes of red, yellow and green, with Vande Mataram written in the middle.
  • Believed to have been designed by freedom activists Sachindra Prasad Bose and Hemchandra Kanungo, the red stripe on the flag had symbols of the sun and a crescent moon, and the green strip had eight half-open lotuses.

(2) In Germany

  • In 1907, Madame Cama and her group of exiled revolutionaries hoisted an Indian flag in Germany in 1907 — this was the first Indian flag to be hoisted in a foreign land.

(3) During the Home Rule Movement

  • In 1917, Dr Annie 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.
  • A white crescent and star occupied one top corner, and the other had Union Jack.

(4) Final version by Pingali Venkayya

  • The design of the present-day Indian tricolour is largely attributed to Pingali Venkayya, an Indian freedom fighter.
  • He reportedly first met Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa during the second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), when he was posted there as part of the British Indian Army.
  • Years of research went into designing the national flag. In 1916, he even published a book with possible designs of Indian flags.
  • At the All India Congress Committee in Bezwada in 1921, Venkayya again met Gandhi and proposed a basic design of the flag, consisting of two red and green bands to symbolise the two major communities, Hindus and Muslims.

(5) During Constituent Assembly

  • On July 22, 1947, when members of the Constituent Assembly of India, the first item on the agenda was reportedly a motion by Pandit Nehru, about adopting a national flag for free India.
  • It was proposed that “the National Flag of India shall be horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (Kesari), white and dark green in equal proportion.”
  • The white band was to have a wheel in navy blue (the charkha being replaced by the chakra), which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka.

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