"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… It will be necessary for us Indians Muslims, Christians Jews, Parsis, and all others to whom India is their home-to recognise a common flag to live and to die for." - Mahatma Gandhi

 

All the free nations around the world have their own flags. Abhinav Khare deep dives to July 22, 1947, when the Constituent Assembly adopted the national flag of India in its present form. The national flag of India is a “tricolour” flag with three horizontal equal proportion stripes of deep saffron in the top, white in the middle and dark green in the bottom. The white band has the Ashok Chakra in blue with 24 spokes.

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S Radhakrishnan explained the significance of these colours very aptly. He said, “Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation of 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 soil, our relation to the plant life here on which all other life depends. The Ashoka Wheel 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 principles 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.”

The national flag in India went through various phases to reach to its present form.

· The first national flag in India which was hoisted in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta now Kolkata on August 7, 1906 was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green.

· The second flag was hoisted by Bikaji Cama in Paris in 1907 which was very similar to the initial flag except that the top strip had one lotus and seven stars denoting the Saptarishi.

· The third flag was hoisted in 1917 when Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak unfurled it during the Home rule movement. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately, with seven stars super-imposed on them. The left-hand top corner had the Union Jack and it also featured a white crescent and star.

· During the session of the All India Congress Committee which met at Bezwada in 1921 (now Vijayawada) an Andhra youth made a flag two colours-red and green-representing the two major communities, the Hindus and the Muslims. Gandhiji later suggested adding a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the Nation.

· The year 1931 passed a resolution for adopting the tricolour flag as our flag. This flag was saffron, white and green with the charkha at the centre.

· On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as free India national flag. After the Independence, the dharma chakhra of emperor Asoka was adopted.

However, there are some rules and regulations that ought to be followed as per the January 26, 2002 flag code. These include the following:

The Do's:

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

· A member of public, a private organisation or an educational institution may hoist/display the national flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise consistent with the dignity and honour of the national flag.

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

The Don'ts:

· 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.

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

· No other flag or bunting can be placed higher than the flag. Also, no object, including flowers or garlands or emblems can be placed on or above the flag. The tricolour cannot be used as a festoon, rosette or bunting.

Many a people have sacrificed their lives to see the flag of India flying high, uninhibitedly. On the occasion of the 73rd Independence Day, let us remember and honour the sacrifices of all those men and women, who enabled us to celebrate this day.