The national flag of India has undergone massive changes since its first inception. The Indian national flag has gone through many ups and downs before it reached what it is today. If seen closely, development in a way refers to the political development in the nation. As the nation celebrates the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to commemorate 75 years of Independence, we bring you some historic milestones in the development of our National Flag.
The first national flag of India, which was composed of three horizontal stripes of green, yellow, and red (from top to bottom) was hoisted on August 7, 1906 in Kolkata’s (then Calcutta) Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park). The green strip had 8 lotuses, while the red strip had a crescent and a sun.
A year later, in 1907 the second flag was hoisted by Madame Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries. This flag was similar to the first one, but some changes were adapted. The colour of top strip was changed to saffron, the middle remained yellow, while the bottom-most strip turned green. The lotuses on the top strip were replaced with stars, while the position of crescent and sun were swapped.
When India’s political struggle took a turn, Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak hoisted the third variation of the flag during the Home Rule movement in 1917. It had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately. On the left-hand top corner (the pole end) was the Union Jack, the flag also had seven stars in the saptarishi configuration super-imposed on them. There was also a white crescent and star in one corner.
In 1921, during the session of the All India Congress Committee, which took place in Bezwada, an Andhra youth presented a design of a flag to Gandhiji. The flag was made of two colours, red and green – representing the two major communities, Hindus and Muslims, respectively. In the design, Gandhi suggested adding a white stripe to represent the remaining communities living in India. He further asked the youth to connect the spinning wheel as a symbol of the progress of the nation.
In the history of the national flag, the year 1931 holds special importance.
This year a resolution was passed to adopt the tricolor flag as our national flag. The flag had three stripes saffron (top), white (middle) and green (bottom). There was also a spinning wheel in the middle of it. Although the tricolor was widely accepted, people opposed the presence of the charkha as it had no communal significance.
Finally, on 22 July 1947, the national flag of independent India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. After independence, the color and significance of the national flag remained unchanged. However, the charkha as a symbol of the flag was replaced by the Dharma Chakra of Emperor Ashoka. In this way the tricolor flag of the Congress party became the tricolor flag of independent India.