The flag of India is a horizontal tricolor of deep saffron at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. The saffron stands for courage and sacrifice; white symbolizes the truth and purity; and green represents fertility and faith. The flag symbolizes freedom.
In the center of the white band, there is a 24-spoke wheel depicted in navy blue and which represents the Dharma Chakra. It is a Buddhist symbol dating back to the 200th century B.C.
The flag was adopted by India’s constituent assembly on July 22, 1947. The use of the flag and its display are regulated by the Flag Code of India. By law, the flag should be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth of cotton or silk. The flag must never touch the ground or water. In the open, the flag must be flown between sunrise and sunset, regardless of the weather conditions.
In the 19th century, India was under the British rule and a number of various flags were used. The idea of a single Indian flag was first raised by the British after the rebellion of 1857.
The first flag was similar to the flags of other British colonies, including Canada and Australia. The upper left quadrant contained the Union Flag , while in the middle of the right half was the Star of India.
In the early 20th century an Indian flag movement started and various ideas for the new flag were created. But it wasn’t until 1931, that the Swaraj flag became the official flag of Congress. This flag contained the spinning wheel and was hoisted for the first time in 1923. The event resulted in a confrontation between the Congressmen and the police.
A few days before India gained its freedom in August 1947, the Constituent Assembly was formed in order to create a new flag for the independent country. The spinning wheel was replaced by the Chakra. The flag was proposed in July 1947 and contained the colors of today’s flag. It served as the flag of the Dominion of India until January 1950 and since then as the flag of the Republic of India.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who later became India’s first Vice President and second President , explains the symbolism of the Flag, according to the Flag Code of India:
“Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The “Ashoka Chakra” in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change.”