National flag: India
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THE National flag is a horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (kesaria) 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 to 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. The design of the National Flag was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India on 22 July 1947.
Apart from non-statutory instructions issued by the Government from time to time, display of the National Flag is governed by the provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 (No. 12 of 1950) and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 (No. 69 of 1971). The Flag Code of India, 2002 is an attempt to bring together all such laws, conventions, practices and instructions for the guidance and benefit of all concerned.
The Flag Code of India, 2002, took effect from 26 January 2002 and supercedes the ‘Flag Code-India' as it existed then. As per the provisions of the Flag Code of India, 2002, there is no restriction on the display of the National Flag by members of general public, private organisations, educational institutions, etc., except as provided for in the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and any other law enacted on the subject.
Making of National Flag
Today is the 70th anniversary of India’s National Flag. On this day in 1947, the national Constituent Assembly adopted the Tricolor as a Flag for independent India which was yet to born 24 days later.
Every nation has its national flag which is a symbol of its freedom. India too got a National Flag, popularly called Triranga, which represents the hopes and aspirations of its people. It is the symbol of our national pride. The Triranga served as the national flag of the Dominion of India from 15th August 1947 and on 26th January 1950, it became the flag of f the Republic of India. Fluttering Tiranga generates a common feeling of oneness and pride among the people.
Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had explained the necessity of an appropriate flag for an independent country saying, “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.” He had said,”It will be necessary for us Indians Hindus, Muslims, Christians Jews, Parsis, and all others to whom India is their home to recognize a common flag to live and to die for.”
Since Independence, thousands of people including armed forces have ungrudgingly laid down their lives to keep the Tricolour flying in its full glory.
The Tiranga as it is often called has three horizontal bars of deep saffron (Kesari) at the top indicating the strength and courage of the country, white in the middle represents peace and truth and dark green at the bottom shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land. The ratio of width of the flag to its length is two to three. In the centre of the white band has a navy blue wheel taken from the abacus of the Sarnath Lion made by the 3rd-century BC Emperor Ashoka. This Dharma Chakra depicted the “wheel of the law”. The chakra intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation. Its diameter approximates to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes. It is made only from khadi, domestically spun Indian cotton, as a symbol of nationalism and freedom.
The Tricolour has a long history. Its evolution sailed through many vicissitudes to arrive at what it is today. In one way it reflects the political developments in the nation. Each of the milestones in the evolution of our National Flag represented a historical event. The first flag in its evolution is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta. The flag was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green. The top red strip had 8 lotuses and the bottom green had crescent and sun. The second one was the one that was hoisted in Paris by Bhikaji Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries 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 third flag went up in 1917 when Indian political struggle had taken a decisive 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 one corner.
During All India Congress Committee session at Bezwada (now Vijayawada) in 1921 an Andhra youth Pingali Venkayya who had designed a flag, took it to Mahatma Gandhi who liked it. It was of two colours-red and green. Gandhi ji suggested the addition of a white strip and the spinning wheel to symbolize progress of the nation. The year 1931 was a landmark in the history of the flag as resolution was passed adopting 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 the colours bore no communal significance and were to be interpreted as such.
Navy blue colour of the Chakra in the centre of the flag indicates the most truth of the universe and it represents the colour of sky and ocean. While the chakra intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation and as such, the nation shall keep moving towards progress and prosperity pacing with technological advancement.
Despite good intention and sincere efforts, some elements did try to create controversy over the flag. Some linked these 24 spokes to Hindu mythology that talks about 24 noble Indian values. These are Love, Courage, Patience, Peacefulness, Magnanimity, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Selflessness, Self-Control, Self Sacrifice, Truthfulness, Righteousness, Justice, Mercy, Gracefulness, Humility, Empathy, Sympathy, Spiritual Knowledge, Moral Values, Spiritual Knowledge, Moral Values, Spiritual Wisdom, Fear of God and Faith.
There are some who attribute 24 spokes to 24 precious hours of the day (Samay Chakra) while others link these to Puranas. The Chakra is said to represent 24 Hindu Dharma Rishis who wielded power of the “Gayatri Mantra”, each Rishi representing each of the letters of the Mantra.
In the Constituent Assembly, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru moved the following Resolution July 22, 1947: “Resolved that the National Flag of India shall be horizontal Tricolour of deep Saffron (Kesari), white and dark green in equal proportion. In the centre of the white band, there shall be a Wheel in navy blue to represent the Charkha. The design of the Wheel shall be that of the Wheel (Chakra) which appears in the abacus of the Sarnath, Lion Capital of Asoka. The diameter of the Wheel shall approximate to the width of the white band. The ratio of the width to the length of the Flag shall ordinarily be 2:3.”
In his passionate speech Nehru said that, “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.We thought of a design for a Flag which was beautiful, because the symbol of a nation must be beautiful to look at. We thought of a Flag which would in its combination and in its separate parts would somehow represent the spirit of the nation, the tradition of the nation, that mixed spirit and tradition which has grown up through thousands of years in India. So, we devised this Flag.”
On replacing Gandhiji’s charkha by Ashoka Charkha in the Flag, Nehru said, “Normally speaking, the symbol on one side-of the Flag should be exactly the same as on the other side. Otherwise, there is a difficulty which goes against the rules. Now, the Charkha, as it appeared previously on this Flag, had the wheel on one side and the spindle on the other. If you see the other side of the Flag, the spindle comes the other way and the wheel comes this way; if it does not do so, it is not proportionate, because the wheel must be towards the pole, not towards the end of the Flag. There was this practical difficulty”.
The significance of the colours and the chakra in the National Flag was aptly described by the philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnanin the Constituent Assembly. He explained-“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 soil, our relation to the plant life 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 Govt enacted laws to regulate hoisting of the Flag through statutory and non-statutory instructions issued by the Govt from time to time. It was also governed by the Emblems & Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950, The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. Making The National Flag as a proud national emblem of every Indian, the Parliament enacted The Flag code Of India, 2002 which was effective from 26th January 2002 that superseded the earlier Flag Code-India. The new Code is very comprehensive document covers all provisions relating to the National Flag. It has three parts. Part I of the Code contains general description of the National Flag. Part II of the Code is devoted to the display of the National Flag by members of public, private organizations, educational institutions, etc. Part III of the Code relates to display of the National Flag by Central and State governments and their organisations and agencies.
After several years of independence, the proud citizens of India were allowed to hoist the Indian flag over their homes, offices and factories on any day and not just National days as used to be done earlier. Now, Indians can proudly display the Tricolour anywhere and anytime during day, subject to the provisions of the Flag Code without any disrespect to the Tricolour. Some basic do’s and don’ts include hoisting of the National Flag 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 commercial 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 and not 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.
Vijayawada:The man who envisioned the signature bands of white, saffron and green that planted the Tricolour as a symbol of national pride in a billion hearts was a humble schoolteacher from Andhra who lived most of his life in penury and died in debt.
Pingali Venkayya, who had served in the British Indian Army in South Africa before becoming a Gandhian foot soldier, created the initial design of the Indian National Congress flag in 1921, little knowing it would go on to become Independent India's national flag with a few changes.
Venkayya was born to Pingali Hanumantha Rayudu and Venkata Ratnam at Bhatlapenumarru village in Krishna (Madras Presidency then) on August 2, 1878.
INITIAL DESIGN IN 1921
➤ Pingali Venkayya created the initial design of the Indian National Congress ﬂag in 1921, which later became India’s nat’l ﬂag with a few changes.
➤ His last wish was to have his body draped in the Tricolour
Imported/ non- khadi flags
It isn’t just Chinese LED lights and Ganesh and Lakshmi idols that are hurting Indian manufacturers, even the Indian tricolour shipped from across the border have hit Indian players, and also violated the Flag Code, prompting the government to ban their imports into the country.
In a notification, the directorate general of foreign trade, prohibited import of the Indian national flag “not adhering to specifications prescribed” in the Flag Code of India.
The Code prescribes that the tricolour can only be made of hand spun and hand woven wool, cotton, silk khadi “bunting” — allowing only the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to manufacture national flags. Most of the flags you might have seen being sold at traffic crossings or outside your kid’s school are either made of plastic or non-khadi fabric, resulting in a decline in sales by KVIC, which petitioned commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal last month to ban the import of flags from China and other countries. KVIC chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena had argued that the “blatant violation of the Flag Code” was impacting the livelihood of many.
During 2017-18, KVIC’s flag sales were estimated at Rs 3.7 crore, which declined 14% to Rs 3.2 crore in 2018-19. In the first half of the current fiscal, sales were estimated at under Rs 2 crore.
The significance of the tricolour
The Times of India, Sep 28 2015
Are citizens aware of the Tricolour's true significance?
Citizens have always had an emotional, patriotic connect with the national flag. This connect was heightened by tales of glory weaved around the daredevilry of Indian soldiers in hoisting the flag atop re-captured heights of Kargil after evicting Pakistani invaders. The controversy over PM Narendra Modi signing a “tricolour“ was not without fire. The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 [amended by the Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act, 2003] provides that “putting any kind of inscription upon the Indian national flag“ would constitute disrespect to it. But did Modi mean disrespect to the national flag? The flag code says the national flag should be made of hand-spun and hand-woven woolcottonsilk khadi bunting. It is rectangular in shape should have a length to breadth ratio of 3:2. We all feel patriotic when we buy those small plastic national flags from roadside vendors on the eve of Independence Day and Republic Day . Are we too guilty of disrespecting the national flag? The Supreme Court had dealt with an interesting case relating to alleged disrespect to the national by a police officer in 1959. The incident happened in Mughalsarai police station on Independence Day of 1955.
A mob of 3,000 persons, mostly students, gheraoed the police station demanding the national flag atop the building be flown at half-mast in respect of students killed in police firing in Patna. Station house officer Avadh Narain Singh was short of manpower to tackle a surging crowd. He sought reinforcements. But seniors told him to handle the situation `tactfully'.
As the crowd grew impatient, the SHO was caught in a dilemma. Lowering the national flag on Independence Day would surely invite disciplinary action. On the other hand, violent elements were egging on the crowd to attack the police station. The SHO made a quick decision and flew the flag halfmast from 8 am to 11 am. The crowd dispersed and the situation was defused. The seniors appreciated Singh's `tactful' handling of the situation.
Soon, the situation changed dramatically as the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru in a speech said “no insult to the national flag will be tolerated“. Immediately , Singh's superiors took adverse note of the national flag being flown half-mast on Independence Day . The `tactful' handling was brushed aside. Singh was found guilty and demoted two ranks. He challenged the decision in the Supreme Court. The SC in Avadh Narain Singh vs Additional Superintendent of Police [AIR 1960 SC 304] said, “To decide whether it amounts to insult or not, one must look to the circumstances in which and the motive with which the flag was lowered.“ The SC concluded that Singh had meant no disrespect to the national flag and asked the police department to pay a cost of Rs 300 to him.
The moot question is: Did the PM mean disrespect to the flag by putting his signature on it? Literal application of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act would make him guilty of inscrib ing the national flag. But as the SC judgment in Avadh Narain Singh case tells us, we must look whether the circumstances and intention pointed to a deliberate disrespect to the flag.
Inclusion of saffron colour in the flag too was objected to by some members of the flag committee, which was constituted on June 23, 1947.It decided the size, shape and colours of the national flag on July 14, 1947.
Dr S Radhakrishnan had clarified that colours adopted in the flag had no communal significance. He had said, “Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to ma terial 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 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 all 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 and hence, this deviation does not revolt against the original idea of having a spinning-wheel in the national flag.“
Are we aware of the true significance of the Tricolour as explained by Dr Radhakrishnan? Have the politicians understood and imbibed it?
The Supreme Court had held in the Naveen Jindal case [2004 (2) SCC 510] that citizens have a fundamental right to fly the national flag round the year, a privilege earlier restricted only to certain days. But flying the national flag with honour would not mean much unless we understand the duties cast on us by the vibrant colours of the national flag.
Symbolism Of The Chakra On Our National Flag
The design of our national flag was finalised after prolonged discussions. The blue-coloured chakra on it has been derived from the third century BCE Ashokan Lion Capital pillar, found in an excavation at Sarnath near Varanasi. It was adopted because of its multifaceted importance in Indic traditions from the time of Sindhu-Saraswati culture, Harappan-Vedic times.
The chakra as wheel goes on moving and this unceasing movement indicates the continuum of time and life, best explained in Upanishadic text as ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti, Charaiveti’ – keep on moving, keep on moving, keep on moving. This signifies the speed and constant movement with which the individual, society and the nation have to keep moving on the path of progress.
Vehicles from the earliest bullock carts to the modern trains and planes get their speed due to the wheels. Without wheels there is no speed and, hence, no life and progress. The clock is also a form of the wheel that represents the Kal Chakra, time cycle.
There are so many forms of chakra that represent different dimensions, meaning and utility. The Brahmand Chakra signifies the cosmos; the Samsara Chakra, the world order; the Jeevan Chakra, unending cycle of birth and rebirth in humans, animals and plants; the Ritu Chakra, the six seasons that come one after the other and keep repeating the cycle endlessly; and the ‘Kal Chakra’, time cycle.
There is also the Dharma Chakra that symbolises the Vedic ‘rit’, dharma, moral order. The Dharma Chakra is significant in Buddhism and Jainism. It denotes the continuous flow that regulates the individual and society in terms of morality and code of conduct. The first sermon by the Buddha is known as ‘Dharma Chakra Pravartan’.
As Kal Chakra, the Sudarshan Chakra becomes a dreaded weapon in the hands of Vishnu avatar – Vasudev Krishn of the Mahabharat. It is a beautiful but fast-moving weapon meant to destroy imperfection.
The chakra is also a symbol of the Sun, the most essential source of energy on earth. The sun also revolves continuously on its axis like a chakra. In fact, in early art, the sun is represented as chakra. Moreover, when a king or a god is portrayed as ‘chakravarti’, powerful, he is depicted with a chakra-aura behind his head.
According to Indologist VS Agrawala, the chakra also symbolises unity in diversity, the guiding force of our culture and democracy. The 24 spokes of the chakra on our national flag represent 24 hours of the day. They emanate from the centre and move out towards the circumference in different directions, showcasing diversity, while the motionless but all-uniting axis represents unity. Though the spokes go in different directions, they, all the same, remain tied to the centre. This, according to Agrawala, confirms the saying from the Rig Ved: ‘Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti’. The truth is one, like the calm centre of the chakra, but the learned describe it in different ways, like the spokes going in different directions.
Thus, the chakra on our national flag is not just a figure but the core of Indic tradition and philosophy.
2018: Karnataka’s State Flag proposal
A day after Karnataka unveiled its proposed state flag, a central government official said there was no precedent for a separate state flag, barring Jammu and Kashmir. However, the official said the Constitution does not have any provision against them.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday unveiled the proposed Karnataka flag — the ‘Nada Dwaja’ — and said his government would seek the Centre’s approval.
The Flag Code of India and State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act deal only with the national flag. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state with a separate flag, on account of the state’s special status conferred by Article 370.
The official said the Centre is apprehensive of a “chaotic situation” in case of some states, districts or even villages seek separate flags to press their identities.
Sources indicated a regulatory framework would have to be established to deal with the demand for separate state flags, in line with provisions of the law and Constitution.
Flag Code of India
As in 2022
The use, display and hoisting of the National Flag in the country is guided by an overarching set of instructions called the ‘Flag Code of India 2002’. It brings together all laws, conventions, practices, and instructions for the display of the National Flag. It governs the display of the National Flag by private, public, and government institutions.
The Flag Code of India took effect on January 26, 2002. As per Clause 2.1 of the Flag Code of India, there shall be no restriction on the display of the National Flag by members of the general public, private organizations, educational institutions etc. consistent with the dignity and honour of the National Flag.
What led to the recent amendment?
The Flag Code of India, 2002 was amended vide Order dated December 30, 2021, and National Flag made of polyester or machine made flag have also been allowed. Now, the National Flag shall be made of hand-spun, hand-woven or machine-made cotton/polyester/wool/silk/khadi bunting, as per the amended flag code.
The government will soon launch ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’– a nationwide campaign to encourage people to hoist the Tricolour at their homes to mark the 75th Independence Day. According to officials in the Ministry of Culture, the plan is to reach out to more than 20 crore homes across the country by August 15, the 75th Independence Day.
The amended flag code will facilitate the availability of flags on such a large scale and also make them affordable for the general public. Officials in the Ministry of Culture say the flags are now available for as low as Rs 30 on online portals. Once the flag code was amended, the government reached out to manufacturers and e-commerce sites to boost its availability. The Ministry has also held meetings with e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart to make sure these sites would be a platform to buy flags.
Why is it being criticised?
The amendment has been welcomed by many, including industrialist and former Congress MP Naveen Jindal, whose petition in 1995 had led to the Delhi High Court allowing hoisting of the national flag by individuals at their private premises. The amendment to the flag code has, however, been questioned by those who feel the move will break the association between the Tricolour, the Independence movement and khadi.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said: “By allowing the import of Tricolour made of polyester, an arrangement has been made for ‘China-made Tricolour in every home’ — the very China that is encroaching on our land.” Party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar added, “They (BJP government) have been vending government properties, and now they are aiming at selling the national flag as the country’s treasury is waning.”
What do khadi weavers have to say?
A section of Khadi weavers and activists have launched an agitation to protest the amendment. A nationwide protest has been called by the Karnataka Khadi Gramudyog Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS) — a unit that spins the fabric used to make the National Flag, which has now paused operations in the wake of the move.
KKGSS, which claims to be the only BIS approved khadi unit for the material used to make the Tricolour, say they used to get orders worth Rs 3-4 crore every year in the run up to the Independence Day, but this year, in the wake of the amendment, the demand has been abysmal.
The unit became unique as a manufacturing centre for the National Flag in 2006, when it was accredited with ISI certification and an authorisation to sell the National Flag throughout the country. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission certified KKGSS as the sole manufacturer and supplier of the Tricolour to the entire country. They have already written to the Prime Minister regarding the amendment.
Useage of the Flag
‘Only govt servant’s body can be draped in Tricolour’
The Uttar Pradesh government has said that the body of a non-government person can’t be wrapped in the Tricolour as it violates the Indian National Flag Code, 2002.
The government’s move comes a fortnight after photographs of the funeral procession of Kasganj communal violence victim Chandan Gupta getting wrapped in Tricolour went viral on social media.
“The flag shall not be used as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in State/Military/Central Paramilitary Forces funerals herein after provided. The flag shall not be used as a drapery in any form whatsoever, including private funerals,” according to Section V of the Flag Code of India.
Chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath, in a written submission to the Vidhan Parishad, has also said the flag of any organization cannot be put above the national flag. VHP and Bajrang Dal men had reportedly carried saffron flags along with the Tricolour during the ‘tiranga yatra’ on Republic Day when the violence broke out.
Yogi’s submission has come in response to a query by SP legislator Shashank Yadav. On Tuesday, Yadav had raised the query, but could not be taken up for discussion as there was pandemonium over law and order and fake encounters in the state.