For any country, the flag is symbolic of its identity and sovereignty. While there may be differences in religions, traditions and customs amongst the people, the national flag is what brings them all under one roof. In ancient times, flags were used to claim territory or area and demarcating it.
History of the Tricolour
The Indian national flag is also known as the “Tricolour” or “Tiranga”. It is rectangular in shape with three equal horizontal bands of deep saffron, white and green. The centre band which is white also has a 24 spoke wheel in navy blue. The wheel or chakra is the “Ashoka Chakra”. It was adopted in its present form on the 22nd of July 1947 during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly. Mahatma Gandhi had proposed in 1921 for a flag to the Indian National Congress. The flag’s designer, PingaliVenkayya used the traditional spinning wheel to symbolise the Mahatma’s goal of self reliant Indians spinning their own cloth. A white strip in the middle was then included to provide a background for the spinning wheel and to include other religious communities. Subsequently, the three colours, saffron, white and green were finalized. Each colour band is representative of different values. Saffron signifies courage and sacrifice. White represents peace and truth. Green is symbolic of faith and chivalry.
The Indian tricolor’s usage and display is governed by the Flag Code of India, the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 and the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. Insult to the flag or using it in a manner that is in violation of the rules laid down by the Flag Code of India are punishable offences which can attract a fine, imprisonment or both. Displaying a flag that is dirty or frayed constitutes an insult, just like writing or inscribing anything on the flag. Official rules also state that the flag should never be left on the ground or in water. Prior to 2002, the code did not allow Indian citizens did not allow the flag to be hoisted in private spaces except on Republic Day or Independence Day. However, after the amendment of the rule, private citizens can hoist the flag on their premises as long as the honour and dignity of the flag is upheld. Incorrect display, like hoisting it upside down also constitutes a punishable offence.
Considering that the flag is not just a piece of garment that anybody can manufacture, the manufacturing process for the national flag is regulated by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).The standards were first published in 1968 and updated in 2008. The flags are always manufactured out of khadi cloth of silk or cotton. There are nine standard sizes of the flag as specified by law. The manufacture process is a lengthy one where every aspect is checked at every step before a flag can be displayed publicly. The material is first sent to BIS laboratories for approval. Only if the material meets the required standards can it be used for manufacture of the Indian flag. After the dying process, the Ashok Chakra is screen printed on either side of the white cloth.The three pieces of required dimension, one of each colour are then stitched together. The flag is sent to BIS for approval again. Only if BIS approves it can the flag be then used and displayed.
Importance of the flag
The piece of coloured fabric called a flag is not just a piece of decoration. It symbolises the identity of a nation. While there may be many flags for institutions and events, the national flag is only one and encompasses the entire populace. The flag serves to remind its citizens the core values and history and its unchanging characteristics. The flag not only represents tangible assets like geographical areas but the sacrifices made by countless people for its glory and the principles of the country. The flag is also a cultural icon on the international stage. The unifying effect that a flag can have is virtually impossible to equal. No matter how eloquent and emotional a speech is, it can in no way convey and elicit the emotions linked to patriotism and national fervour.It unites complete strangers. During times like wars and conflicts, it is the flag that is used to raise the spirits of the soldiers and the people of the country. A flag flying high in the stiff breeze gives hope even in the worst of times, serving to remind its people that no problem is too big to overcome if persistence and perseverance in thoughts and actions are there.
We should always endeavour that our national flag, the “Tricolour” is always flying high. Never by words or actions should we ever disrespect or dishonour it nor let others around to do so. It is the responsibility of every citizen to uphold its dignity and honour.