The Tricolour – Our Pride
August 15 and January 26. The tricolour is flying high and patriotic songs are playing in every street, every school. And then, when we hear these words sung “…Ye Shubh Din Hai Hum Sab Ka, Lehralo Tiranga Pyara…” there is hardly anyone whose eyes are not moist with glistening tears of patriotism.
The Indian national flag, the Tricolour or Tiranga, is one of the most prized national symbols for an Indian. The Constitution says, “The Indian National flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of India”. It is under this flag that Indians rallied during the freedom struggle and it is to preserve the honour and glory of this flag that thousands (including members of the armed forces) have laid down their lives.
Understanding The Flag Code
On special days such as the Republic Day or the Independence Day, every Indian would like to fly the national flag at his/ her home, school, or workplace. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the “right to fly the national flag freely with respect and dignity is a fundamental right of a citizen within the meaning of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India, being an expression and manifestation of his allegiance and feelings and sentiments of pride for the nation”.
So, before we go ahead and exercise this fundamental right, let us take a look at the Flag Code that defines the rules of flying the tricolor and ensures that the flag’s dignity and honour are maintained.
The Flag Code of India is a set of standards governing the use of the Indian flag in different contexts and was created in 1968. It was later updated in 2002 and 2008. In 2002, India’s Flag Code was merged with Provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act, 2005.
Part I of the Flag Code
Part I of the Flag Code deals with the description and dimensions of a standard flag.
- The Indian Tricolour flag is made up of three equal rectangular bands – saffron on top, white in the middle, and green in the bottom. The length height ratio of the flag is 3:2.
- The dark blue Ashoka Chakra in the middle band has 24 spokes.
- A standard flag is made of handspun cotton or silk or khadi.
|Standard Flag Dimensions|
|Flag size No.||Dimensions in millimetres|
|1||6300 × 4200|
|2||3600 × 2400|
|3||2700 × 1800|
|4||1800 × 1200|
|5||1350 × 900|
|6||900 × 600|
|7||450 × 300|
|8||225 × 150|
|9||150 × 100|
Part II of the Flag Code
The next section of the Flag Code of India deals with the correct display code, and guidelines for storage and disposal of the flag in a civilian context.
- The Indian national flag should always occupy a position of honour and should be distinctly placed in any setting.
- When flown over public buildings the national flag should be flown from sunrise to sunset.
- The flag should always be hoisted at a brisk pace and lowered slowly.
- The saffron band must always be displayed the top most band or the right (of the flag) band (in case of vertical display). It is an offence to display the flag in an inverted position (saffron side down).
- Display of a damaged or a disheveled flag is also an offence. The national flag should not be dipped on any occasion.
- The national flag of India should not be used as a festoon or a decoration, or allowed to touch the ground. It is not to be used as an advertisement, garment or wrap of any sort.
- It cannot be torn, damaged, burnt, or disrespected in any manner. The disposal of a flag should be done as a whole, in private, preferably by burning.
- It is also an offence to draw or deface the flag with any inscription or graffiti.
The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 (amended in 2003) lays down the punishments meted out in case of any disrespect to the flag. The first offence shall attract a prison term of up to 3 years and a fine. Subsequent offences will be punished with imprisonment for at least a year
The pledge of allegiance towards the national flag –
“I pledge allegiance to the National Flag and to the Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic for which it stands.”
Part III of the Indian Flag Code
Section III of the Flag Code of India deals with the correct display code, storage, and disposal guidelines of the flag in a defense context, except in case of defense installations which are governed by their own code of flag display. Most of these guidelines are similar to the display guidelines of Section II.
- Only in the event of the funeral of an armed forces personnel or member of the state or central para military forces, may the flag be used to cover the coffin but must be removed before the person is buried or cremated.
- While hoisting and lowering the flag or during a parade, all people present should face the flag and stand at attention while persons in uniform should stand at attention and salute.
- When displayed with flags of other countries, the Indian national flag should be displayed to the extreme right of the row (left of the audience) or at the start of the circle.
- The flag should be flown in the official residences of the President, Vice President, Governor, Lt Governor, and atop public buildings such as High Courts, Secretariats, Commissioners’ Offices, Collectorates, Jails and offices of the District Boards, Municipalities and Zilla Parishads and Departmental/Public Sector Undertakings.
- Only dignitaries mentioned in the code such as President, Vice-President, Governors and Lieutenant Governors, PM and Cabinet Ministers, Heads of Indian Missions/Posts abroad, Chief Justice of India and a few others are allowed use of national flag in their cars.
National Flag at Half Mast
- The Indian National flag is flown at half mast throughout the country as a mark of national mourning in the event of the death of the President or Vice-president or the Prime Minister of India.
- In case of the death of a Governor, Lt. Governor, Chief Minister, the national flag is flown at half mast through the state or the Union Territory.
- In case of Indian missions abroad, the Indian national flag is flown at half mast only in event of the death of the Head of State or the Head of Government of the state in which the mission is located.
- Before lowering the national flag to half mast mark, it is raised to the top of the mast. This is to position the pride of the nation and its honour over all other concerns at all times.
Things To Know About the Indian National Flag
- Pingali Venkayya was an Indian freedom fighter who designed an early version of the tricolour on which the Indian national flag is now based.
- On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Indian national flag in its current form during one of its meetings.
- On May 29, 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered Mt Everest for the first time, they hoisted the Indian flag along with the Union Jack and the flags of Nepal and the UN.
- Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma took the Indian national flag to outer space when he became the first Indian national to fly into space in 1984.
- On April 21, 1996, Sqn Ldr Sanjay Thapar became the first Indian to hoist the Indian flag on the North Pole when he bailed out of an MI 8 chopper at 10,000 feet.
- On January 23, 2004, the honourable Supreme Court held that the Right to fly the National Flag freely with respect and dignity is a fundamental right of a citizen within the meaning of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. But the fundamental right to fly National Flag is not an absolute right but a qualified one being subject to reasonable restrictions under clause 2 of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 regulate the use of the National Flag.
- On December 7, 2014, 50,000 people formed a human (Indian) national flag setting Guinness Record for Largest Human Flag in the world.
- On January 23, 2016, the tallest Indian flag was hoisted on a 293-foot pole. The flag itself measured 99×66 feet.
- On February 18, 2016, the MHRD decreed that the national flag will fly on a minimum 207-feet high mast on the premises of all centre sponsored universities of India.
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