Published: 15th August 2019
Independence Day: Do you know who actually designed the Indian National Flag?
The final version of the flag was designed by Badruddin Faiz Tyabji and his wife Surayya but it was based on the version Pingali Venkayya created
While there has been some debate over who designed the Indian national flag, it is safe to say that it was based on the version that Pingali Venkayya created. Venkayya, who was born in Bhatlapenumarru, near Machilipatnam, which is now Andhra Pradesh belonged to the Indian National Congress and designed the flag initially for the party.
The Congress leader who was also an authority in Geology, Agriculture, a linguist, writer and an educationist was born 143 years ago on August 2. According to an article in India Today, it was because he was so diverse that he was given interesting titles like 'Patti Venkayya', Jhanda Venkayya' and even Japan Venkayya because he once delivered a speech in Japanese at an event.
The first: Pingali Venkayya knew Gandhi for over 50 years
Venkayya was a Gandhian but he wasn't just another person who was in awe of Gandhi and then became a follower of his. Venkayya knew Gandhi before he became the Mahatma, he first met him all the way back when he was only 19, in Africa. Venkayya was working in the British Army at that point, when Gandhi, as we all know, worked as an attorney. They went on to be associated with each other for the rest of their lives, for over 50 years.
From the very beginning, it was the Venkayya who kept insisting that the Indian National Congress should have a flag of its own. He even published a book with 30 different designs that he had come up with for the flag in 1916.
According to Veejay Sai, a culture writer, editor and critic, in an article, Gandhi wrote in his paper 'Young India' that he greatly appreciated the fact that Venkayya had taken the effort to create so many versions of the flag. 'When I visited Vijayawada, I asked Mr Venkaiah to prepare a two coloured flag with red and green colours along with a Chakra symbol and obtained it within three hours from him. Later we had decided to include the white colour, also the colour that reminds of truth and non-violence."
The symbol was initially the spinning wheel but on the recommendation of Dr BR Ambedkar was turned into the Ashoka Chakra, the eight-spoked wheel of Buddhism. Thereafter the colours changed from red to saffron. Initially, Saffron was selected to represent Hindus, Green for Muslims and Gandhi suggested the White to represent everybody irrespective of religion. Eventually, though, the colours went on to represent values like courage, integrity, peace and faith.
The final: Surayya's version of the flag that flew on Nehru's care the night of Independence
However, there has been a debate over who the credit for the National Flag should go to. According to several other historians, the credit for the final version of the flag should go to Badruddin Faiz Tyabji and his wife Surayya. According to a book by historian Trevor Royle, titled 'The Last Days of the Raj' he says — "By one of those contradictions which run through India’s history, the national flag was designed by a Muslim, Badr-ud-Din Tyabji. Originally the tricolour was to have contained the spinning-wheel symbol (charkha) used by Gandhi but this was a party symbol, which Tyabji thought might strike the wrong note. After much persuasion, Gandhi agreed to the wheel because Emperor Ashoka was venerated by Hindu and Muslim alike. The flag which flew on Nehru’s car that night had been specially made by Tyabji’s wife, Mrs Surayya."
The flag was approved, accepted and adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, and it became the official flag of the Dominion of India on 15 August 1947.
However, the designer of the flag that it was originally based on, Venkayya died in abject poverty on July 4, 1963, and was forgotten by his party and the government. A posthumous Bharat Ratna was also recommended to the freedom fighter but he did not receive one. One good thing though is that the government issued a postage stamp to honour him in 2009 and 2011.