While putting together an article about the i-slate introduced by Ms Pingali Rajeswari through her ViDal Foundation, I came to know that she is a descendant of Pingali Venkayya, the man who designed the National Tricolour. That got me to delve a little deeper into the history on our flag. Here is a compilation of few interesting facts about our flag which I came across .
1. Our national flag as we know today wasn’t adopted until 1947. Here is how our flag evolved:
During the session of the All India Congress Committee which met at Bezwada in 1921 (now Vijayawada) Pingali Venkayya prepared a flag and took it to Gandhiji. It was made up of two colours-red and green-representing the 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 tricolor flag as our national flag. This flag, the forbear of the present one, was saffron, white and green with Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel at the center. It was, however, clearly stated that it bore no communal significance and was to be interpreted thus.
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 Charkha 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.
2. Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha based in Hubli is the only licenced flag production and supply unit in India.
3. The largest flag (21 × 14 ft) is flown by the government of Maharashtra atop the Mantralaya building, the state administrative headquarters.
4. The original flag code of India did not allow private citizens to fly the national flag except on national days such as Independence Day or Republic Day. In 2001, Naveen Jindal,an Indian industrialist filed a public interest litigation petition in the High Court of Delhi against this, arguing that hoisting the national flag with due decorum and honour was his right as a citizen, and a way of expressing his love for the country. The Union Cabinet of India then amended the Indian Flag Code with effect from 26 January 2002, allowing private citizens to hoist the flag on any day of the year, subject to their safeguarding the dignity, honour and respect of the flag.
5. When the Indian flag is flown on Indian territory along with other national flags, the general rule is that the Indian flag should be the starting point of all flags.
6. Whenever the flag is displayed indoors in halls at public meetings or gatherings of any kind, it should always be on the right (observers’ left), as this is the position of authority. So when the flag is displayed next to a speaker in the hall or other meeting place, it must be placed on the speaker’s right hand. When it is displayed elsewhere in the hall, it should be to the right of the audience.
7. When a foreign dignitary travels in a car provided by government, the flag should be flown on the right side of the car while the flag of the foreign country should be flown on the left side.
8. The Indian national flag was hoisted on Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world, on May 29 1953, along with the Union Jack and the Nepalese National flag.
9. In 1971, the Indian flag, went into space on board Apollo-15. It flew into space as a medallion on the spacesuit worn by Cosmonaut Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, during the Indo-Soviet joint space flight in April 1984.
10. The original flag code forbade use of the flag on uniforms, costumes and other clothing. In July 2005, the Government of India amended the code to allow some forms of usage. The amended code forbids usage in clothing below the waist and on undergarments, and forbids embroidering onto pillowcases, handkerchiefs or other dress material.
Interpreting the colours chosen for the national flag, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had once explained-” the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness of political leaders towards material gains in life. The white depicts enlightenment, lighting the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green symbolises our relation to the soil, to the plant life here on which all other life depends. The Ashoka wheel in the centre of the white strip representes the law of dharma.” Let’s hope the views of Indian politicians can some day be attuned to such thoughts.