The National Flag, which is flying high across India as the nation celebrates 75 years of freedom, was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India on July 22, 1947. On that date this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in “recall[ing] the monumental courage and efforts of all those who dreamt of a flag for free India when we were fighting colonial rule”.
According to the official record of the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly, Dr Rajendra Prasad, who was in the Chair, announced that the first item on the agenda was “a Motion by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru about the Flag”. Thereafter, Nehru rose to move the following Resolution: “Resolved that the National Flag of India shall be horizontal tricolour of deep Saffron (Kesari), white and dark green in equal proportion. In the centre of the white band, there shall be a Wheel in navy blue to represent the Charkha. The design of the Wheel shall be that of the Wheel (Chakra) which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Asoka.
“The ratio of the width to the length of the Flag shall ordinarily be 2:3.”
Nehru began by referring to the “glow and warmth which I feel at the present moment”, and recalled that he and others in the House had “looked up to this Flag not only with pride and enthusiasm but with a tingling in our veins; also how when we were sometimes down and out…the sight of this Flag gave us courage to go on”. He paid homage to the freedom fighters “who have passed, held on to this Flag, some amongst them even unto death and handed it over as they sank, to others to hold it aloft”.
He cautioned that “we have tremendous problems to face in the present and in the future”, but declared that “this moment does represent a triumph and a victorious conclusion of all our struggles”. “It is no small thing that that great and mighty empire which has represented imperialist domination in this country has decided to end its days here. That was the objective we aimed at… We have attained that objective or shall attain it very soon. Of that there is no doubt.”
Nehru clarified that the Flag must not be seen in communal terms, and that when the Flag was devised, there was no communal significance attached to it. “We thought of a design for a Flag which was beautiful, because the symbol of a nation must be beautiful to look at. We thought of a Flag which would in its combination and in its separate parts would…represent the spirit of the nation, the tradition of the nation, that mixed spirit and tradition which has grown up through thousands of years in India,” he said.
Although the Flag was different in some respects from the one used earlier, its “colours are the same, a deep saffron, a white and a dark green”. The famous wheel of Asoka, he said, “is a symbol of India’s ancient culture; it is a symbol of the many things that India had stood for through the ages”.
“This Flag…is not…a Flag of Empire,…a Flag of domination over any body, but a Flag of freedom not only for ourselves, but a symbol of freedom to all people who may see it,” Nehru said. “…Wherever it may go…it will bring a message, I hope, of freedom to those people, a message of comradeship, a message that India wants to be friends with every country of the world and India wants to help any people who seek freedom…”
At the end of the day, the record says, “The motion was adopted, the whole Assembly standing.”