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Quest for a National Flag for India, Part-VII, The Swaraj (National) Flag of India-1921.
Let me start to-day,
at the outset, that we should refrain from quoting (without verification) from the
information brochures published by
the Department of Posts in connection with the release
of a commemorative/special postage stamp (you know thatall
rights with respect to the stamp, first
day cover and information brochure
rest with the Department and they do charge for the same). Our wise men have said you do not learn
anything free of cost! They were
I was given to understand wrongly, the life span of P. Venkayya as ‘1878-1963’ as mentioned in the information brochure of
the stamp issued on 12-8-2009. On verification, I found from authentic
biographies that the main architect of the Swaraj
flag, was born on 2nd.
August 1876, not
fact, the Department of Posts had celebrated Venkayya’scentenary of birth on 2-8-1976 by
issuing a special cover from Vijaywada (his
birth place, in broader sense).
we get at least three haulers(!) from
one information brochure alone – first; P.
Venkayya’s year of birth, second; mis-spelling of Venkiah and
the third;Venkkyya’scontribution (?) to the Purna
Swaraj Flag which was created in 1931.
on the subject, it was also noticed that Dadabhoy Naoroji on
the stamp issued on 4-9-1963 in his honour became Dadabhai Naorojion the stamp issued on 26-8-1993 (vide, Quest for a flag for
India, Part IV).
Now let us now, come
back to our search for the historical
events that led us to the present
The ‘Charkha’ was
introduced at the Gandhi’s Ashram at Ahmedabad in the year 1917. Gandhi’s acceptance to the Swaraj flag in 1921 soon suffused the imagination of our country.
Every city, village and hamlet saw it aflutter, in simple khadi, above private dwellings – large and humble – and in the
street corners; claimed R. Vekataraman,
former President of India.
On the other hand, Gandhi’s
“Cult of the Charkha”, efficacy
of Charkha in
advancing Swaraj (Independence) and
the symbol of Charkha on the Swaraj flagwas severely debated, criticised by many. Prominent
amongst was perhaps, Rabindranath Tagore.
‘Letters and Debates’ between Gandhi and
Tagore in this respect are of great historical values even to-day.
D.V. Sivarao, a
research-scholar, in a broadcast from the All India Radio, Vijaywada on
19-10-1953 on “Our National Flag”
said: “It will be interesting to know
that the idea of substitution of the Chakra
(Wheel) for the Charkha (Spinning
wheel) was conceived by late Andhra
Ratna D. Gopalakrishnayya”. It
was on record that Gopalakrishnayya, known as ‘Hero of Chirela-Perala’, ridiculed the Swarajflag
as a mere spinners-weavers flag. He
himself had designed as early as 1920 two separate flags for his Ghosti
and Rama Dandu . The main part of the flags was a Vajra
within a Chakra i.e. Thunderbolt within a Wheel. Vajra symbolized the bones of
Rishi Dadhichi. It was in turn again
perhaps taken from the Sister Nivedita’s
flag made in 1906 (vide, blog
dated April 17, 2010).
We shall discuss in
threadbare on this subject when we shall talk about various suggestions that
were put forward to the ‘Flag Committee’
constituted in 1931 to devise a new
flag for India.
From 1921 to 1931 the Swaraj
flag played a pivotal role in rallying political activities organized
by the Congress Party. It became synonymous with the Congress party and some
time referred to as Congress Flag or
Nagpur Flag Satyagraha(1923) took place to fight back the ban imposed on the flying the Swaraj flag. The prolonged Battle of
Flag had given the Swaraj flag large support and eventually the flag became the
means of political mobilization and a powerful symbol of anti-colonial protest.
Prominent leaders of Nagpur Flag Satyagraha
Patriotic songs are
the musical equivalent of our country’s emblem. Several songs were
written/composed during the period have reference of Swaraj flag.
Behold Our Mother’s Great Banner!
(Thayein Mani Kudi Pareer)
Under the flag-mast are
Loyal and faithful
Ready to sacrifice their
To keep the flag flying
Behold our mother’s great
“Vijayi bishwa tiranga pyara Jhanda uncha rahe hamara.”