The Colours of Freedom
“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity,” said Herbert Hoover, America’s 31st president. Or as B.R. Ambedkar put it, “Freedom of the mind is real freedom.”
We live in times where the concept of freedom has largely moved away from a physical barrier into the realm of the psychological, social, economical and cultural. Freedom today, for most of us, has much to do with making independent decisions and creating the life we choose.
In honour of India’s 76th Independence Day, we take stock of the deeper significance behind a major symbol of our freedom: the tricolour flag and how its meaning can shape our lives today.
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The first Indian national flag was hoisted on August 7, 1906 at Parsee Bagan Square in Kolkata. The flag had three major colours: namely red, yellow and green.
In 1921, Gandhi proposed the flag to the Indian National Congress. The first variant closer to the current day Indian tricolour was then designed by Pingali Venkayya. It had two major colour bands, red and green, to symbolise the two major communities in India - Hindus and Muslims.
In 1931, a landmark resolution was passed adopting a tricolour flag as our national flag. This flag, the forebear of the present one, was saffron, white and green with Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel at the centre.
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The top band is the colour saffron, which indicates the strength and courage of our country. The white middle band indicates peace and truth with a Dharma Chakra. The last band is green which shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of our land.
This Dharma Chakra depicts the "wheel of the law" in the Sarnath Lion Capital made by the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Its 24 spokes are intended to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation.
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The first outdoor official flag hoisting of Tiraṅgā (as the tricolour is colloquially called) on the 15th of August 1947, took place in Canberra, Australia, at the residence of Sir Raghunath Paranype, the High Commission of India in Australia.
- No other flag or bunting can be placed higher than the flag. Also, no object, including flowers or garlands or emblems can be placed on or above the flag.
- The flag cannot be intentionally allowed to touch the ground or the floor or trail in water.
- By law, it is to be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth of cotton or silk made popular by Mahatma Gandhi. The original cloth flag can be made by only one place called the Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha or KKGSS. They are the only licensed manufacturer and supplier of the Indian National Flag.
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