Friday, September 30, 2022
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Spare Tiranga from politics, Celebrate its spirit
Straight Talk

K. B Jandial

Indian politics have come to such a deplorable level that even the most sacrosanct symbol of freedom movement & Independent India, Tiranga, has not been spared from a running political controversy. While PM Modi’s call on ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ in the run up to the 75th anniversary of Independence has turned into a mass movement, the opposition leaders are mocking the campaign under which 20 crore Tiranga are being hoisted in the country from J&K-Ladakh to Kanyakumari.
Despite a huge mandate, Modi’s almost all reforms, initiatives and decisions, even on sensitive matters of defence and national security, are mired in controversies due to unrelenting efforts of opposition leaders. Be these are CAA, “abrogation” of Article 370, demonetization, GST, surgical strikes in PoK, Rafale fighter jets, nation-wide lockdown to control Covid-19, stand-off with China at Ladakh borders, farm laws, mandatory Aadhaar card, relations with neighboring countries and influence in Asia, Agnipath etc., opposition leaders relentlessly attempted to derail their national gains.

Tiranga is the latest addition to this list. Hoisting of Tiranga at crores of houses under the aegis of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ is symbolic of not only an act of personal connection to the Tiranga but also an embodiment of people’s commitment to the nation. The fluttering of Tiranga invokes a unique feeling of patriotism in the hearts of true Indians. Why there should be any reservation on it?

When PM Modi urged people to put the 'Tiranga' as their ‘dp’ of their social media accounts, Mehbooba Mufti puts the image of the erstwhile J&K flag tied up with Tiranga in her ‘DP’ writing in social media that as ‘the State flag was linked with the Indian Flag, snatching away of State flag broken the link’.

Contrary to her stance, reports from Kashmir indicate unusual enthusiasm for Tiranga including setting up of Tiranga manufacturing units. Her earlier warning to Modi of ‘none would be there to hold Tricolor in Kashmir if Article 370 was removed, proved brazenly wrong. Congress leaders posted the image of Pt Nehru holding the Tiranga as their ‘DP’evoking a "dynastic" jibe from the BJP which asked them to instead allow congressmen to use their photo with Tiranga. Mocking it, Akhilesh Yadav tried to link it with “danga”. Kejriwal made it as competitive politics by going a step ahead of PM Modi by organizing a big Tiranga show on 14 August.

One of the objectives of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ and ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ is to create awareness about the Tiranga and make the present generation proud of it. The youth must know how it was evolved and adopted as the National Flag. Let there be no confusion that the PM, who is also India’s most popular leader and a symbol of nationalism & patriotism, alone can give such imaginative calls to enthuse patriotism & nationalism in Indians.

Every free nation has its own flag which is its symbol. The Constituent Assembly too adopted the Tiranga as the National Flag of India in its present form on July 22, 1947, just a few days before India's independence from the British on 15 August, 1947. It has horizontal three bands of deep saffron (Kesari) 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 taken from 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 Tiranga has roots in the freedom movement that sailed through many changes. In the pre-independence period, India never had a National Flag that could represent it as one nation. The rulers of different princely States had different flags of varied designs.
The idea of a single Indian Flag astonishingly came from the British rulers after the first war of independence of 1857. It was an administrative and strategic convenience for the establishment of direct Imperial Rule. The first flag was similar to the flags of other British colonies like Canada & Australia.
To link the star in the flag with "Indianness", Queen Victoria created the Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India to honour services to the empire by her Indian subjects. Subsequently, all the Indian Princely States received flags with symbols based on the heraldic criteria of Europe.

However, the Vande Mataram flag was first Indian flag hoisted in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta on August 7, 1906 after the partition of Bengal. It had emotional appeal that integrated the multitude of castes and races within the country. As compared to the British Rulers’ flag for British India, the new flag had three horizontal bands of green, yellow and saffron with Indian religious symbols. It had eight white lotuses on the upper green band, representing the eight provinces, a sun and a crescent on the bottom red band, and the Vande Mataram written in Hindi on the central yellow band. The flag was launched in the annual session of the Congress at Calcutta but without any ceremony or publicity.

A slightly modified version was subsequently designed by Mrs. Bhikaji Cama, one of the prominent leaders of the Indian Independence movement, which was hoisted at the secondInternational Socialist Congress in Stuttgart in 1907. This design was adopted in 1914 as the emblem of the Berlin Committee (later known as the Indian Independence Committee). Her original "Flag of Indian Independence" is preserved at the Maratha and Kesari Library in Pune.

Around the same time, another flag designed by Sister Nivedita, a Hindu reformist and disciple of Swami Vivekananda, presented to INC. It comprised a thunderbolt in the centre with the Vande Mataram caption split around it and a hundred and eight oil lamps for the border. Many other proposals were initiated, but none of them got attention from the nationalist leaders.

In 1916, a freedom fighter, Pingali Venkayya who was Mahatma Gandhi’s disciple from South Africa’s time, published a book carrying thirty new designs for the Indian flag. Gandhi ji wrote in Young India, “Pingali Venkaiah who is working in Andhra National College Machilipatnam, has published a book, describing the flags of the countries and has designed many models for our own National Flag. I appreciate his hard struggle during the sessions of Indian National Congress for the approval of Indian National Flag,"

In 1917, Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak hoisted a new flag as part of the Home Rule Movement. The flag included the Union Jack in the upper left corner, a star and crescent in the upper right, and seven stars, in the ‘saptarishi’ configuration super-imposed on them, displayed diagonally from the lower right, on a background of five red and four green alternate bands.
In November 1920, the Indian delegation to the League of Nations wanted to use an Indian flag, which prompted the British India government to place renewed emphasis on the flag as a national symbol.

In 1921, during the Congress session at Bezwada (now Vijayawada) Pingali Venkayya presented to Gandhiji a flag in two bands of red and green, representing the two major communities of Hindus and Muslims. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white band to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the Nation. However, sectarian representation of the colours was later dropped and instead saffron, white and green bands were claimed to represent courage and sacrifice; peace and truth; and faith and chivalry respectively of the nation.

While commemorating the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, at Nagpur on April 13, 1923, the local congressmen hoisted the Swaraj flag with the spinning wheel, a confrontation took place with the police who arrested some protestors. This led to the Flag Satyagraha supported by all the prominent leaders of Congress.
The year 1931 was a landmark in the history of the flag. A resolution was passed adopting a Tricolor flag as India’s national flag. This flag, the forebear of the present one, was saffron, white and green with Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel at the centre.

A few days before India got its independence in August 1947, the Constituent Assembly constituted a committee on June 23, 1947 to finalize the national flag. Headed by Rajendra Prasad, it has Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, C. Rajagopalachari, K. M. Munshi and B. R. Ambedkar as its members. On July 14, 1947 It recommended the National Flag of India with suitable modifications, so as to make it acceptable to all parties and communities. It discounted any communal undertones of the colours. The Gandhi ji’s spinning wheel was replaced by the Ashoka Chakra. It is called Dharma Chakra depicted the "wheel of the law" in the Sarnath Lion Capital made in the 3rd-century BC by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The chakra intends to show ‘life in movement and death in stagnation’.

The most inspirational speech on the significance of the Tricolour and its meaning to those who would have the honour to unfurl it in Independent India, came from the philosopher, educationist and the second President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Speaking on the National Flag in the Constituent Assembly he said, “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 (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The "Ashoka Chakra" in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satyagraha, 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.”

While the people’s emotional attachment with the Tiranga has increased with ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ they continue to be oblivious of the ideals it symbolizes. Many leaders in the Govt or opposition are aware of the true meaning of the Tiranga as explained by Radhakrishnan? Tiranga is pious but regrettably, today, it is being used in various agitations including by those who believe in or support “Bharat tere tukde honge inshallah inshallah.” This Tiranga is being used by agitators everywhere as a ‘license’ to break law even when they have no respect for the Flag they are holding. It is high time that Radhakrishnan’s advice is followed by the rulers and politicians in true letter and spirit rather than making Tiranga a mere symbol of patriotism even without having faith in it.

(The Author is a retired IAS officer, feedback: [email protected])

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