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Indian Flag: meaning of the tricolour?
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Imagine the plight of the citizens of a nation who had no right, until 2004, to hoist their country’s flag by themselves? Fortunately, this isn’t the case anymore. But do we really know what the tricolor stands for? Here’s an eye-opener on the Indian flag.
The national flag – the tricolor – we stand to attention before it as the national anthem plays out, we proudly cheer our teams as they carry it at the opening ceremonies of international games, but how much do we really know about our own flag?
Who designed it?
Pingali Venkaya, a writer and geophysicist from Andhra Pradesh, designed the flag in 1916. The color and design underwent several modifications in 1921, 1931, and then in 1947 when the ‘Charka’ in the middle was replaced by the ‘Chakra’.
Why 3 colors?
Spiritual symbolism
Saffron embodies courage, sacrifice, and the spirit of renunciation. White symbolizes unity, purity, and peace. Dr. Radhakrishnan, India’s first Vice President said of the white color, “The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct.” Green represents fertility and prosperity of the land. The ‘Chakra’ is the symbol of law and progress. Of this, Dr. Radhakrishnan said, “…the wheel denotes motion… represents the dynamism of a peaceful change. The 24 spokes symbolize twenty-four hours of the day.”
Religious symbolism
When the flag was being designed, Hinduism and Islam were the two major religions. Saffron represented Hinduism and green stood for Islam. White represented the minority religions.
Modern symbolism
Unlike the national passion we see in other countries, in India, this fervor seems to be reserved for the armed forces! The freedom movement no doubt influenced the tricolor, but it needs more than history to represent the people. Today, the tricolor has become more of a political symbol than a national symbol.
We need to understand the true concept of patriotism and nationalism represented by the tricolor –unpolluted democracy, unbiased equality, and uncensored justice.
No nation is complete without its sense of patriotism which arises out of national symbols like the national flag. Remember, it is not old fashioned to be patriotic. It’s a brave soul that carries the tricolor’s fervor on his/her sleeve!
Do you think we give our national flag the respect it deserves? Do you know of any other symbolism associated with the tricolor? Share your insights with other readers right here.

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