Pradeep Pattanayak

At a time when the Narendra Modi-led government’s ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign is gaining ground as a part of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, most of us are ignorant about the designer of our Tricolour.

Pingali Venkayya, born in a Telugu Brahmin family in Bhatlapenumarru in Andhra Pradesh on August 2, 1878, was the designer of our present-day National Flag.

When Venkayya was just 19 years old, he joined the British Indian Army. As if it was destined for him to meet Mahatma Gandhi, he was posted in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899-1902). And during this period, he had an opportunity to meet Mahatma Gandhi. Since that day, he became his staunch follower.

Upon returning to India, Venkayya dedicated his entire time to flag designing as he was very passionate about it.

In 1921, Venkayya met Mahatma Gandhi in Vijayawada and presented him a booklet containing 24 designs of flags. After going through the booklet, Gandhi was convinced that India should have a National Flag. He asked Venkayya to prepare a design at the National Congress meeting in 1921.

The initial design prepared by Venkayya had only green and red bands to indicate two major religions in the country-Hindu and Muslim. It was then called Swaraj Flag. Later Gandhi made some changes and added a white band a charkha to denote peace and self-reliance.

The Congress committee later replaced the red band with a saffron band and altered the position as well with saffron being on top, followed by white and green. The ‘charkha’ was placed in the middle of the white band. It started to be known as the flag of Indian National Congress.

Thereafter, a committee headed by Rajendra Prasad was formed to select a flag for Independent India on June 23, 1947. The committee on July 14 of the same year proposed that the flag of Indian National Congress be taken up as the National Flag of India.

On July 22, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru proposed the new flag at the Constituent Assembly. It had deep saffron, white and deep green in equal ratios and blue-coloured Ashoka wheel in the centre. The flag was accepted unanimously by the Constituent Assembly. Between August 15, 1947, and on January 26, 1950, it served as the national flag of the Dominion of India. Thereafter, it has been serving as the flag of the Republic of India.