The National Flag of India was designed by Pingali Venkayya. and adopted in its present form during an ad hoc meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on the 22 July 1947, a few days before India's independence from the British on 15 August, 1947. It has served as the national flag of the Dominion of India between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950 and that of the Republic of India thereafter. In India, the term "tricolour" [Tiranga – ?????? (in Hindi)] almost always refers to the Indian national flag.
The flag is a horizontal tricolour of "deep saffron" at the top, white in the middle, and green at the bottom. In the centre, there is a navy blue wheel with twenty-four spokes, known as the Ashoka Chakra, taken from the Lion Capital of Asoka erected atop Ashoka pillar at Sarnath. The diameter of this Chakra is three-fourths of the height of the white strip. The ratio of the width of the flag to its length is 2:3. The flag is also the Indian Army's war flag, hoisted daily on military installations.
It should be pointed out that the actual colour used in the top band in all depictions of the flag—including this page—is either blaze orange or pumpkin rather than either saffron or deeper shades of saffron like goldenrod or dark goldenrod.
The official flag specifications require that the flag be made only of "khadi," a special type of hand-spun yarn. The display and use of the flag are strictly enforced by the Indian Flag Code.
A heraldic description of the flag would be Party per fess Saffron and Vert on a fess Argent a "Chakra" Azure. A few days before India became independent on August 1947, the specially constituted Constituent Assembly decided that the flag of India must be acceptable to all parties and communities. A flag with three colours, Saffron, White and Green with the Ashoka Chakra was selected. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who later became India's first Vice President, clarified the adopted flag and described its significance as follows:“ Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The "Ashoka Chakra" in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change. ”
A widely held unofficial interpretation is that the saffron stands for purity and spirituality, white for peace and truth, green for fertility and prosperity and the wheel for justice/righteousness.
History At the beginning of the 20th century, as the Indian independence movement seeking freedom from British colonial rule gained ground, the need was felt for a national flag that would serve as a powerful symbol of these aspirations. In 1904, Sister Nivedita, an Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda, came up with the first flag of India, later referred to as Sister Nivedita's Flag. It was a red square-shaped flag with a yellow inset; it depicted a "Vajra Chinha" (thunderbolt) with a white lotus alongside it in the centre. The words "????? ?????" (Bônde Matorom meaning "Mother[land], I bow to thee!") were inscribed on the flag in Bengali. The red colour signified the freedom struggle, yellow signified victory, and the white lotus signified purity.
The first tricolour was unfurled on 1906-08-07, during a protest rally against the Partition of Bengal, by Schindra Prasad Bose in Parsi Bagan Square in Calcutta. This flag came to be known as the Calcutta Flag. The flag had three horizontal bands of equal width with the top being orange, the centre yellow and the bottom green in colour. It had eight half-opened lotus flowers on the top stripe, and a picture of the sun and a crescent moon on the bottom stripe. The words Vande Mataram were inscribed in the centre in the Devanagari script.
On 1907-08-22, Bhikaiji Cama unfurled another tricolour flag in Stuttgart, Germany. This flag had green at the top, saffron in the centre and red at the bottom, the green standing for Islam and the saffron for both Hinduism and Buddhism. The flag had eight lotuses in a line on the green band representing the eight provinces of British India. The words Vande Mataram, in the Devanagari script, were inscribed on the central band. On the lowest band, towards the hoist of the flag was a crescent, and towards the fly a sun. The flag was jointly designed by Bhikaiji Cama, Veer Savarkar and Shyamji Krishna Varma. After the outbreak of World War I, this flag became known as the Berlin Committee Flag after it was adopted by the Indian Revolutionaries at the Berlin Committee. This flag was actively used in Mesopotamia during the First World War. The Ghadar Party flag was also used in the United States as a symbol for India for a short period of time.
The Home Rule Movement formed by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant in 1917 adopted a new flag, one which featured five red and four green horizontal stripes. On the upper left quadrant was the Union Flag which signified the Dominion status that the movement sought to achieve. A crescent and a star, both in white, are set in top fly. Seven white stars are arranged as in the Saptarishi constellation (the constellation Ursa Major), which is sacred to Hindus. This flag could not become popular among the masses.
A year earlier in 1916, Pingali Venkayya, from Machilipatnam in present-day Andhra Pradesh tried to devise a common national flag. His endeavours were noticed by Umar Sobani and SB Bomanji, who together formed the Indian National Flag Mission. When Venkayya sought Mahatma Gandhi's approval for the flag, the Mahatma suggested the incorporation of the "Charkha" or spinning wheel on the flag, symbolising "the embodiment of India and the redemption of all its ills". The humble spinning-wheel had become a hallowed symbol of the economic regeneration of India under the Mahatma's championship. Pingali Venkayya came up with a flag with the charkha on a red and green background. However, Mahatma Gandhi found that the flag did not represent all the religions of India.
To address Mahatma Gandhi's concerns, another new flag was indeed designed. This tricolour featured white on top, green in the centre and red at the bottom, symbolising the minority religions, Muslims and Hindus respectively, with a "Charkha" drawn across all three bands. Parallels were drawn with the fact that it closely resembled the Flag of Ireland, symbol of the other major freedom struggle against the British Empire. This flag was first unfurled at the congress party meeting in Ahmedabad. Although this flag was not adopted as the official flag of the Indian National Congress party, it was nevertheless widely used during the freedom movement.
However, there were many who were not satisfied with the communal interpretation of the flag. The All India Sanskrit Congress that convened in Calcutta in 1924 suggested the inclusion of saffron or ochre and the "gadha" (mace) of Vishnu as the symbol of the Hindus. Later that year, it was suggested that geru (an earthy-red colour) "typified the spirit of renunciation and symbolised an ideal common to the Hindu yogis and sanyasis as well as the Muslim fakirs and darveshes." The Sikhs also stepped up the demand to either include a yellow colour that would represent them, or abandon religious symbolism altogether.
In light of these developments, the Congress Working Committee appointed a seven member Flag Committee on 1931-04-02 to sort out these issues. A resolution was passed noting that "objection has been taken to the three colours in the flag on the ground that they are conceived on the communal basis." The unlikely result of these confabulations was a flag featuring just one colour, ochre, and a "Charkha" at upper hoist. Though recommended by the flag committee, the INC did not adopt this flag, as it seemed to project a communalistic ideology.
Later, the final resolution on a flag was passed when the Congress committee met at Karachi in 1931. The tricolour flag then adopted was designed by Pingali Venkayya. It featured three horizontal strips of saffron, white and green, with a "Charkha" in the centre. The colours were interpreted thus: saffron for courage; white for truth and peace; green for faith and prosperity. The "Charkha" symbolised the economic regeneration of India and the industriousness of its people.
At the same time a variant of the flag was being used by the Indian National Army that included the words "Azad Hind" with a springing tiger in lieu of the "Charkha" signifying Subhash Chandra Bose's armed struggle as opposed to Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence. This tricolour was hoisted for the first time on Indian soil in Manipur by Subhash Chandra Bose.
A few days before India gained its freedom in August 1947, the Constituent Assembly was formed to discuss the flag of the India. They set up an ad hoc committee headed by Rajendra Prasad and consisting of Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, C. Rajagopalachari, KM Munshi and B.R. Ambedkar as its members. The Flag Committee was constituted on 1947-06-23 and it began deliberations on the issue. After three weeks they came to a decision on 14 July 1947, being that the flag of the Indian National Congress should be adopted as the National Flag of India with suitable modifications, to make it acceptable to all parties and communities. It was further resolved that the flag should not have any communal undertones. The "Dharma Chakra" which appears on the abacus of Sarnath was adopted in the place of the "Charkha". The flag was unfurled for the first time as that of an independent country on 15 August 1947.
Proper flag protocol Prior to 2002, the general public of India could not fly their national flag publicly except on designated national holidays. Only government offices and higher functionaries of the government could do so. An industrialist by name Naveen Jindal filed a Public interest petition in the Delhi High Court, seeking the striking down of this restriction. Jindal apparently flew the flag atop his office building, but as this was against the National flag code, the flag was confiscated and he was informed that he was liable to be prosecuted. Jindal argued that hoisting the National flag with due decorum and honour was his right as a citizen, and a way of expressing his love for India. The case moved to the Supreme Court of India, which asked the Government of India to set up a committee to consider the matter. The Union Cabinet amended the Indian flag code with effect from 26 January 2002, allowing the general public to hoist the flag on all days of the year, provided they safeguarded the dignity, honour and respect of the flag.
In the case of Union of India v. Yashwant Sharma it was held that though the Flag Code is not a statute, restrictions under the Code need to be followed to preserve the dignity of the National Flag. The right to fly the National Flag is not an absolute right but a qualified right and should be read having regard to Article 51A of the Constitution.
Respect for the flag Indian law says that the flag must at all times be treated with "dignity, loyalty and respect". The "Flag Code of India – 2002", which superseded "The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950", governs the display and usage of the flag. Official regulation states that the flag must never touch the ground or water, be used as a tablecloth or draped in front of a platform, cover a statue, plaque, cornerstone etc. Until 2005, the flag could not be used in clothing, uniform or costume. On 5 July 2005, the Government of India amended the code, allowing use of the flag as clothing and uniform. It however cannot be used as clothing below the waist or as undergarments. It is also prohibited to embroider the national flag and other symbols onto pillowcases or neckerchiefs.
The flag may not be intentionally placed upside down, dipped in anything, or hold any objects other than flower petals before unfurling. No sort of lettering may be inscribed on the flag.
Display on vehicles The privilege of flying the national flag on a vehicle is restricted to the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Governors and Lt. Governors, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers and Junior Cabinet members of the Indian Parliament and state legislatures, Speakers of the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, Chairmen of the Rajya Sabha and state legislative councils, judges of the Supreme Court of India and High Courts, and high ranking officers of the army, navy and air force.
They may fly the flag on their cars, whenever they consider it necessary or advisable. The flag shall be flown from a staff, which should be affixed firmly either on the middle front of the bonnet or to the front right side of the car. When a foreign dignitary travels in a car provided by government, the flag should be flown on the right side of the car and the flag of the foreign country should be flown on the left side of the car.
The flag should be flown on the aircraft carrying the President, the Vice-President or the Prime Minister on a visit to a foreign country. Alongside the National Flag, the flag of the country visited should also be flown but, when the aircraft lands in countries en route, the national flags of the countries touched would be flown instead, as a gesture of courtesy and goodwill. When the President goes on tour within India, the flag should be displayed on the side by which the President will embark the aircraft or disembark from it. When the President travels by special train within the country, the flag should be flown from the driver’s cab on the side facing the platform of the station from where the train departs. The flag should be flown only when the special train is stationary or when coming into the station where it is going to halt.
Disposal When no longer in a fit condition to be used, a flag should be disposed of in a dignified manner, preferably by burning or ground burial.