As per the Indian laws, the national flag is to be made up of khadi. The Flag Code of India governs the usage of the flag. Initially the use of flag by private citizens was prohibited except on national days like Republic Day and Independence Day. But gradually some changes were made by the Union Cabinet about the usage of flag by private citizens. The code was amended about its usage for hoisting and its adaptation on other types of clothes.
The Indian national flag is popularly known as Tiranga which means "three colours". It is a horizontal tricolour in equal proportion of deep saffron at the top, white in the middle and green at the bottom. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is 2:3. At the center of the white band, is a wheel with 24 spokes in navy blue colour that indicates the Dharma Chakra (the wheel of law).
The colours of the flag have a significance of their own:
Saffron: Saffron is the upper most colour of the flag and is a symbol of courage and selflessness.
White: The white colour in the Tiranga represents honesty, peace and purity. It highlights the importance of maintaining peace in the country.
Green: The green colour of the flag represents faith and chivalry. It is a symbolism of prosperity, vibrance and life.
Ashoka Chakra: The Ashoka Chakra or the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law) has 24 spokes and appears on the number of edicts of Ashoka.
History of Indian National Flag
The Indian national flag represents India's long struggle for freedom and is a national treasure. It signifies the status of India as an independent republic. The flag came into being in its present form at the meeting of Constitutional Assembly on 22 July 1947. Since then it has served as the National Flag of the Dominion of India from 15 August 1947 to 26 January 1950 and, thereafter, as the national flag of the Republic of India. The Indian National Flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya and contains three equal strips of saffron, white and green.
The history of the Indian National Flag over the years:
1904-06:: The history of the Indian flag dates back to pre-independence era. It was during 1904-06 that the first Indian flag came into being. It was made by an Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda. Her name was Sister Nivedita and after some time this flag came to be known as Sister Nivedita's flag. This flag was coloured red and yellow. Red signified the freedom struggle and yellow was a symbol of victory. It had the words "Bonde Matoram" in Bengali written on it. Along with it the flag contained a figure of 'Vajra', weapon of god 'Indra', and a white lotus in the middle. The 'Vajra' is a symbol of strength and lotus depicts purity.
1906: After Sister Nivedita's flag, another flag was designed in 1906. It was a tricolour flag with three equal strips of blue (top), yellow (middle) and red (lower). In this flag the blue strip had eight stars of slightly different shapes. The red strip had two symbols, one of sun and the other of a star and a crescent. The yellow strip had 'Vande Mataram' written on it in Devnagiri script.
In the same year another version of this flag was created. It was also tricolour but its colours were different. It had orange, yellow and green and came to be known as 'Calcutta flag' or 'Lotus flag', as it had eight half opened lotuses on it. It is believed to be designed by Sachindra Prasad Bose and Sukumar Mitra. It was unfurled on 7 August 1906 at Parsi Bagan Square, Kolkata. It was a "boycott day" against the partition of Bengal and Sir Surendranath Banerjee hoisted this flag to mark the unity of India.
1907:Then came the Madam Bhikaji Rustom Cama's flag. The flag was collectively designed by Madam Bhikaji Cama, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (Veer Savarkar) and Shyamji Krishna Varma. The flag was unfurled by Madam Cama on 22 August 1907 at Stuttgrat, Germany, and attained the status of the first Indian flag to be hoisted at the foreign land. From this event onwards it was also referred to as 'Berlin Committee flag'. The flag consisted of three colours- the topmost being green followed by golden saffron in the middle and the red colour at the bottom.
1916: In 1916 Pingali Venkayya, a writer and a geophysicist designed a flag with the intention to bring the whole nation together. He met Mahatma Gandhi and sought his approval. Mahatma Gandhi suggested him to incorporate a charkha as a symbol of economic regeneration of India, in the flag. Pingali made the flag out of the hand spun yarn 'Khadi'. The flag had two colours and a 'Charkha' drawn across them but Mahatma Gandhi did not approve of it as he said that the red represents the Hindu community and the green represents the Muslims, but all the other communities of India are not represented in this flag.
1917:The Home Rule League formed by Bal Gangadhar Tilak adopted a new flag in 1917, as at that time status of Dominion was being demanded for India. The flag had the union jack at the top, near the hoist. The rest of the flag contains five red and four blue strips. It had seven stars on it in the shape of 'Saptarishi' constellation which is supposed to be the sacred one for the Hindus. It also had a crescent moon and a star at the top fly end. This flag did not gain popularity among the masses.
1921: As Mahatma Gandhi wanted all the communities of India to be represented in the flag of the nation, a new flag was designed. This flag had three colours. At the top was white then green and at the bottom was red colour. In this flag the colour white symbolised minority communities of India, green was for the Muslims and the red one was for the Hindu and Sikh communities. The 'Charkha' was drawn across all the bands symbolising the unification of these communities. The pattern of this flag was based on the flag of Ireland, another nation which was struggling to get its independence from the rule of Britain. Although the Congress Committee did not adopted it as its official flag but it was widely used as a symbol of nationality in India's freedom struggle.
1947: When India got independence, a committee headed by Rajendra Prasad was formed to discuss the National Flag of India and they decided to adopt the flag of Indian National Congress, with suitable modifications, as the flag of India. As a result, the flag of 1931 was adopted as Indian flag but 'Charkha' in the middle was replaced by 'Chakra' (wheel) and hence our National Flag came into being.
British India Flag 1858-1947:This flag introduced by British India in 1858, whose design was based on western heraldic standards, was similar to flags of other British colonies, including Canada and Australia. The blue banner included the Union Flag in the upper-left quadrant and a Star of India capped by the royal crown in the middle of the right half.
Manufacturing: The 'Bureaue of Indian Standards (BIS)' sets standards for the manufacturing of the flag. It specifies the cloth, dye, colour, thread count and each and every thing about the flag, besides laying out rules regarding its hoisting. The Indian flag can only be made up of 'Khadi'. It is made up of two types of khadi one for its main part and the other one for the cloth which holds flag to the staff.
Code of Conduct Being a national symbol it is respected by every Indian. There are certain dos and don'ts laid down for common people regarding the Indian flag:
- When the National Flag is raised the saffron colour band should be at the top.
- No flag or emblem should be placed either above the National Flag or to its right.
- All other flags to be placed to the left of the National Flag if they are hung in a line.
- When the National Flag is carried out in a procession or parade, it shall be on the marching right or in front of the center of the line, if there is a line of other flags.
- Normally the National Flag should be flown over important government buildings like the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Parliament House, the Supreme Court of India, the High Courts, the Secretariats, the Commissioners' office etc.
- The National Flag or any imitation of it must not be used for purpose of trade, business, or profession.
- The National Flag should always be taken down in the evening at sunset.
- The Indian flag was hoisted on the highest mountain peak of the world, Mount Everest on 29 May 1953.
- Madam Bhikaji Rustom Cama was the first person to hoist Indian flag on foreign soil on 22 August 1907 in Stuttgrat, Germany.
- The Indian National Flag flew to space in 1984 when Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma went to the space. The flag was attached as a medallion on the space suit of Rakesh Sharma.
- The National Flag hoisted at Central Park, Connaught Place, New Delhi is one of the largest in India. It is 90 feet in length, 60 feet in width and is hoisted on a flagpole of 207 feet.
- India holds a world record of forming largest human flag which was formed by 50,000 volunteers in Chennai in December 2014.
Last Updated on : January 20, 2015