Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The Indian Tricolour - Fluttering higher than ever
It will be necessary for us Indians, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsis & all others to whom India is their home to recognise a common flag to live and die for.
The flag was first flown and recognized as the Indian National Flag in Hamburg in 1942.
On 15 August 1947 the dominions of India and Pakistan were established. India adopted the familiar horizontal tricolor of orange, white, and green with a blue Ashoka Chakra at the center. The tricolor had been used, unofficially, since the early 1920s as the flag of the Indian National Congress, with the colors representing Hinduism (orange), Islam (green), and a hoped-for unity and peace (white).
More unofficially, the flag was patterned on the other example of struggle against British imperialism.
Most often, a blue spinning wheel was shown in the center, derived from Gandhi's call for economic self-sufficiency through hand-spinning.
The spoked Ashoka Chakra (the "wheel of the law" of the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka) replaced the Gandhian spinning wheel to add historical "depth" and separate the national flag from the INC party flag.
Meaning of the Flag
The Indian flag is a horizontal tricolor in equal proportion of deep saffron on the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is two is to three. In the centre of the white band, there is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra, the wheel of law in the Sarnath Lion Capital. This center symbol or the 'CHAKRA' is a symbol dating back to 2nd century BC. Its diameter approximates the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes, which intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation. The saffron stands for courage and sacrifice; the white, for purity and truth; the green for growth and auspiciousness.
The Constituent Assembly which drew up the Constitution of India, adopted, on 22 July 1947, the tricolor as Independent India's National Flag. After a debate, the Dharma Chakra (of Emperor Ashoka) was included in the central white stripe of the flag, instead of the Charka (used symbolically by Gandhiji and also included in the flag used by the Indian National Congress). The same Chakra adorns the State Emblem adapted from the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka in addition to the motto from the Mundaka Upanishad, Satyameva Jayate which means: Truth alone triumphs. The Chakra or the wheel symbolizes the Power of the State governed by Dharma, which is the primordial Indian system of justice which is the bed-rock, not only of governance but of the socio-politico-economic edifice itself.
The following is an extract from the preamble to the flag code of India as posted on the official Home Ministry website of the Indian government.
The significance of the colours and the chakra in the National Flag was amply described by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in the Constituent Assembly whichunanimously adopted the National Flag. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan explained -"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."
Reproduced below is an extract from Jawaharlal Nehru's address to the Constituent Assembly for the date on which the national flag was adopted (Tuesday, 22 July 1947)
"I present this Flag to you. This Resolution defines the Flag which I trust you will adopt. In a sense this Flag was adopted, not by a formal resolution, but by popular acclaim and usage, adopted much more by the sacrifice that surrounded it in the past few decades. We are in a sense only ratifying that popular adoption. It is a Flag which has been variously described. Some people, having misunderstood its significance, have thought of it in communal terms and believe that some part of it represents this community or that. But I may say that when this Flag was devised there was no communal significance attached to it."
At the same meeting of the Constituent Assembly, Govind Das added:
"There is no touch of communalism in the three colours of the flag. Panditji (i.e., Jawaharlal Nehru) has already told you this in the course of his speech. It is true that at a time when the colours were red, white and green there was a trace of communalism in the flag. But when we changed these colours to saffron, white and green, we declared it in clear words that the three colours had no communal significance."
One of the spurious meanings of the Indian flag states the color of saffron/kesaria stands for patriotism (balidaan), white is for simplicity and peace, green is for agriculture (kheti) farming (kisan) and greenery (hariyali), the navy blue wheel in the center is the "Ashoka chakra", the wheel of progress.
The Flag Code
On 26th January 2002, the flag code was changed. After 52 years, the citizens of India are free to fly the Indian flag over their homes, offices and factories on any day. Except some basic rules to follow while flying the flags, all other restrictions have been removed. Now Indians can proudly display the national flag any where and any time.
There are some rules and regulations upon how to fly the flag, based on the 26 January 2002 legislation. These include the following:
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 organization 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 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.
Material presented in this post has been adapted from the following source;