Learn About the Indian Flag

What is a Flag?

The word flag is of Teutonic (German) origin and probably came into use around the 15th and 16th centuries in various northern European languages signifying a piece of cloth, bunting or a similar material displaying the insignia of a community, an armed force, an office or an individual. A flag in a classical sense is usually, but not always oblong and attached to a staff or halyard.

In the early days of history, the flags besides being objects of worship and reverence, also served as rallying points for organizing armies and for identification of friend and foe during battles. For this purpose flag bearers were used in wars to give direction to soldiers.

History of the Indian Flag

To select a flag for independent India an ad hoc committee was created by the Constituent Assembly on 23 June 1947. The committee headed by Rajendra Prasad and included Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, C. Rajagopalachari, K. M. Munshi and B.R. Ambedkar as its members.

The committee recommended that the flag of the Indian National Congress be adopted as the National Flag of India with suitable modifications. The modified flag was adopted on July 22, 1947 in the Constituent Assembly on the eve of the Independence of India.

The Tiranga proudly went up for the first time against a free sky of Independent India on the flag mast of the Council House at 10:30 a.m. As the Tricolour went up the flag mast, a 31 gun salute was accorded to the symbol of the newly born nation. In the afternoon of the August 15, 1947, the first public flag salutation ceremony was held at the War Memorial at the Prince's Park near India Gate. The flag was hosted at the red fort for the first time on August 16th at 8:30 am not on Aug. 15th contrary to the popular belief.

Indian Flag Design

The Indian flag is a tricolour with deep saffron on the top, white in the middle and green at the bottom in equal proportion. Ratio of the 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 "Charkha". 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 has 24 spokes. The colors of the flag do not represent any community or religion but rather represent the following:

Saffron/(kesaria) - Piety and Patriotism
White - Purity and Peace
Green - Prosperity
Chakra - Progress (24 hours - for 24 spokes)

The Indian Flag

The Flag Code of India

The display of the Indian Flag is governed by the Flag Code of India, 2002; the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950; and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

The regulations state that the flag must never touch the ground or water, or be used as a drapery in any form. The flag may not be intentionally placed upside down, dipped in anything, or hold any objects other than flower petals before unfurling. No sort of lettering may be inscribed on the flag. When out in the open, the flag should always be flown between sunrise and sunset, irrespective of the weather conditions. The flag may be also flown on a public building at night under special circumstances. The flag should never be depicted, displayed or flown upside down.

As of 2002 private citizens are allowed to hoist the flag on any day of the year as long as they safeguard the dignity of the Flag. The modified code forbids usage in clothing below the waist, on undergarments, and embroidered onto pillowcases, handkerchiefs or other dress material.