Once father of the nation said, “A flag is a necessity for all nations. Millions have died for it. It is no doubt a kind of idolatry, which would be a sin to destroy.”
The Mahatma stressing on his opinion also said, “For, a flag represents an ideal—the unfurling of the Union Jack— evokes in the English breast sentiments whose strength it is difficult to measure. The stars and stripes mean a world to the Americans. The star and the Crescent will call forth the best bravery in Islam.
It will be necessary for us Indians Muslims, Christians Jews, Parsis’ and all others to whom India is their home to recognize a common flag to live and to die for.”
So now coming to the point, the National flag of India is a horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (Kesari) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion.
The ratio of width of the flag to its length is two or three. In the centre of the white band is a navy blue wheel, which represents the chakra. Its design is that of the wheel which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Its diameter approximates to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes.
If we look through in tricolour, we get various evolutions since August 1906. It is really amazing to see the various changes that our national Flag went through since its first inception.
The need for a flag was discovered or recognised during our struggle for freedom. The evolution of National Flag sailed through many vicissitudes to arrive at what it is today. In a way it reflects the political developments in the nation. Some of the historical milestones in the evolution of our National Flag involve the following:
- The first national flag in India is said to have been visualised on August 7, 1906, in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in the then Calcutta, now Kolkata. The flag was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow, and green.
- Madame Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries hoisted the second flag in Paris in 1907. This was very similar to the first flag except that the top strip had only one lotus but seven stars denoting the Saptarishi. The flag was also exhibited at a socialist conference in Berlin.
- The third flag went up in 1917 when our political struggle had taken a definite turn Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak hoisted it during the Home rule movement. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately, with seven stars in the Saptarishi configuration super imposed on them. In the left hand top corner (the pole end) was the Union Jack. There was also a white crescent and star in the corner.
- During the session of All India Congress Committee which met at Bezwada in 1921 (now Vijaywada) an Andhra youth prepared a flag and took it to Gandhiji. It was made up of two colours red-green, representing two major communities, i.e. Hindus and Muslims. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the Nation.
- The year 1931 was a landmark in the history of the flag. A resolution was passed adopting a tricolour flag as our national flag. This flag, the forbear of the present one, was saffron, white and green with Gandhi’s spinning wheel at the middle. It was, however, clearly stated that it bore no communal significance, and was to be interpreted thus.
- Lastly, on July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as Free India National Flag. After the advent of Independence, the colours and their significance remained the same. Only the Dharma Chakra of Emperor Asoka was adopted in place of the spinning wheel as the emblem on the flag.
Thus, the tricolour flag of the Congress Party eventually became the tricolour flag of Independent India.
Since the Republic of India has been using this flag to represent it in global platforms.