All you need to know about the Indian flag and its forgotten designer

"It will be necessary for us Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsis and all others to whom India is their home to recognize a common flag to live and to die for," Gandhi said.

Published: 16th August 2019 01:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th August 2019 05:24 PM   |  A+A-

National flag, Indian flag

Image for representational purpose only. (Photo | P Jawahar, EPS)

Online Desk

Every free nation of the world has its own flag, indicating that it is an independent country. In 1921, Andhra Congressman Pingali Venkayya of Masulipatnam first proposed the need for a national flag at a meeting of the Indian National Congress.

Mahatma Gandhi liked the idea of India having a national flag. "It will be necessary for us Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsis and all others to whom India is their home to recognize a common flag to live and to die for," Gandhi said.

Gandhi asked Venkayya to include a charkha or spinning wheel at the centre of the flag. He also expressed his wish that the national flag should have three colours - red to represent Hindus, green for Muslims and white for other faiths.

He wanted to have the white band on top, followed by green, and red at the last implying that the minorities come before the majority. He wished to have the spinning wheel at the centre covering all the three colours.

In 1931, a flag committee of the Congress made some changes to this tricolour. They replaced red with saffron and changed the order of the colours, as we see it now. Gandhi also approved the changes, wrote Ramachandra Guha in an article in The Hindu in 2004.

On July 22, 1947, the committee of the constituent assembly passed a resolution on the national flag suggesting that instead of the spinning wheel at the centre, it could have the Ashoka Chakra of the Lion emblem. This change was subsequently implemented. 

The national flag of India has saffron at the top, indicating the strength and courage of the country, white in the middle indicating peace and truth and green below it showing the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land.

The blue colour Dharma Chakra at the centre depicts the "wheel of the law." The chakra intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation.

By law, the flag should be made of Khadi cloth and the manufacturing process and specifications should meet the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) requirements.

The sole right to manufacture the flag is held by the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission. This is the only unit which has a BIS certification for national flagmaking in India. 

Every year, the unit stitches and sells close to 3 lakh Khadi tricolours of different sizes. The largest among them is the 14x22 feet flag that flutters atop the historic Red Fort in New Delhi. 

Even the Parliament building and state assembly buildings fly flags manufactured by the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission.

Until 2002, citizens of India were not allowed to hoist the Indian flag at their homes, apartments, schools etc. However, on 26th January 2002, the Indian flag code was modified allowing the citizens to hoist the tricolour anywhere and at any time, provided they strictly followed the rules and regulations on how to fly the flag. 

Here's what you CAN and CAN'T do with the national flag

Do's:

  1. The national flag may be hoisted in educational institutions such as schools, colleges, sports camps, scout camps etc. to inspire respect for it. An oath of allegiance has been included in the flag hoisting in schools.

  2. Any member of the public, private organization or educational institution may hoist/display the national flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise, consistent with the dignity and honour of it.

  3. Section 2 of the new code accepts the right of all private citizens to fly the flag on their premises.

Don'ts:

  1. The flag cannot be used for communal gains, drapery, or clothes. As far as possible, it should be flown from sunrise to sunset, irrespective of the weather.

  2. The flag cannot be intentionally allowed to touch the ground or the floor or trail in the water. It cannot be draped over the hood, top, and sides or back of vehicles, trains, boats or aircraft.

  3. No other flag can be placed higher than it. Also, no object, including flowers, garlands or emblems, can be placed on or above the flag. 

  4. The tricolour cannot be used as a festoon, rosette or bunting.

  5. The flag should not be torn, burnt, stamped on or damaged in any way.

  6. Damaged or crumbled flags should not be hoisted or displayed.

  7. It should not be flown half-mast (represents mourning).

  8. It should not be used as a decoration or banner in any form.

  9. It should not be used as a costume or uniform.

  10. It should not be used as a toy for children.

  11. It cannot be printed or embroidered upon handkerchiefs, dresses, cushions or doormats.

  12. After cultural or sports events, flags made of paper or other materials should not be thrown or discarded on the ground. 

  13. Damaged or soiled flags and paper made flags should be disposed of in private to maintain the dignity of the flag.

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