For decades India was under British rule. Under the leadership of Mohandas Gandhi, the Congress of India decided that to truly inspire the Indian people to seek independence, they had to create a distinctive flag that symbolized their nationalist objectives. In 1921 a student named Pingali Venkayya put together a two-colored—red and blue—flag design idea that represented the country’s two primary religions: Hindus and Muslims. He presented the idea to Gandhi and Congress. They loved it but suggested the addition of a spinning wheel, a very traditional, time-honored instrument in India.


This was to symbolize that India was even then seeking self-reliance from Britain by making their own clothes. Ghandi also suggested adding a white stripe in between the two others to represent all the other religious beliefs in India. Beginning in 1923, the flag that resulted began to be wielded by thousands of Indians who marched in opposition to British rule. In 1931 it was officially recognized as the official state flag. When they did so, they changed the arrangement of stripes a little bit to make them equal in length and width.


In addition, they changed red to saffron orange and blue to green. These changes were done in order to prevent any possible sectarian conflict. During World War II, Subhas Chandra Bose wielded this flag while gaining territories with the help of the Japanese. When the war ended, Britain gave the country its freedom but divided it into two sections. One of the sections is today the Muslim-controlled country of Pakistan. The other bigger section remains named India. It was then that the flag found its final version. This new flag bore a chakra instead of a spinning wheel.

This Dharma Chakra was known as the “Wheel of Law.” A woman named Surayya Tayyabji, the wife of one of the ICS officers in the Prime Minister’s office, who created the final version of the flag with chakra. It was approved on July 17, 1947. India raised it national, independent flag for the first time on July 22, 1947. The Constituent Assembly voted the flag in as the official flag of the Dominion of India on August 15, 1947. This 1947 flag of India has remained unaltered. It continued to be used after the Dominion of India became the Republic of India on January 26, 1950.


It also remains the case that Indian law requires that its flags be made out of Khadi, a hand-spun form of cloth popularized by Gandhi. There are also many other specifications for making the flag, all of which have been meticulously laid out and safeguarded by the Bureau of Indian Standards. In 2008 the Karmataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta became the only manufacturer with the right to produce the flag. Originally, use of the flag was so strict that it was against the law for private citizens to wield them except on national days.


This changed in 2002 when a private citizen named Naveen Jindal brought his objection to this rule before Indian courts. As a result, the Indian government amended the law to allow for limited usage on non-national days. In 2005, the rules were even more lenient.


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