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Republic of India, Bharat, Bharatavarsha

Last modified: 2002-12-14 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: india | bharat | asia | wheel | chakra | star | union jack | ashoka chakra | manipur | mizoram | andra pradesh | assam | sindh | politics | party |
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[Flag of India] by Joe McMillan, recoloured by Rob Raeside
Flag adopted 22 July 1947, coat of arms adpted 26 January 1950.

See also:

Flag of August 15, 1947

The flag was first flown and recognized as the Indian National Flag (not just as that of the Congress Party) in Hamburg in 1942.
Ed Haynes, 30 September 1998

On 15 August 1947 the dominions of India and Pakistan were established. India adopted the familiar horizontal tricolor of orange, white, and green with a blue Ashoka Chakra at the center. The tricolor had been used, unofficially, since the early 1920s as the flag of the Indian National Congress, with the colors representing Hinduism (orange), Islam (green), and a hoped-for unity and peace (white). More unofficially, the flag was patterned on the other example of struggle against British imperialism, Ireland. Most often, a blue spinning wheel was shown in the center, derived from Gandhi's call for economic self-sufficiency through hand-spinning. It was this flag that was first hoisted as the "official" Indian flag in Berlin on 3 December 1941.

The spoked Ashoka Chakra (the "wheel of the law" of the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka) replaced the Gandhian spinning wheel to add historical "depth" and separate the national flag from the INC party flag (and Indian political party flags are another tale).
Ed Haynes, 10 April 1996

These are approximate colours shades for the Indian national flag:
Orange: CMYK 0-50-90-0, Pantone 021c
Green: CMYK 100-0-70-30, Pantone 341c
Santiago Dotor, 26 February 2001

Meaning of the Flag

I have seen at a guess a dozen or more artificially constructed and intentionally fanciful imposed "meanings" for the Indian flag. Most are fairly phoney and contrived. When first used early in this century, the explanation was simple: saffron = Hindus, green = Muslims, white = the peace between then (wish-fulfillment?), the wheel = the Gandhian spinning wheel (early on, more obviously so in the design). Post-independence explanations differ, though those today (especially the current pressure to change the flag to solid orange) return to earlier meanings. The similarity to the Irish flag, though with different equivalances, was not in any way an accident. Pick an explanation...?
Ed Haynes, 30 September 1998

One of the spurious meanings can be found at Here is the meaning of Indian flag according to states the color of saffron/kesaria stand for patriotism (balidaan), white is for simplicity and peace, green is for agriculture (kheti) farming (kisan) and greenery (hariyali), the navy blue wheel in the center is the "Ashoka chakra", the wheel of progress.
collected by Dov Gutterman, 30 September 1998

You can find official information regarding the Indian flag at

I'm extremely sceptical of the information about a controversy regarding the color of the flag. We have border disputes and other headaches, but an issue regarding the flag itself? Doesn't exist. However, the significance of the blue wheel is much more (and here it borders on Hindu philosphy): "The chakra [wheel] in the Indian Flag which represents the wheel of life converys the importance of karma. It is also a symbol for continuation of life and its cycles".
Jeetendra Chandragiri, 17 Dec 1999

Flag Code

On 26th January 2002, the flag code has been changed. After 52 years, the citizens of India are free to fly the Indian flag over their homes, offices and factories on any day. Except some basic rules to follow while flying the flags, all other restrictions have been removed. Now Indians can proudly display the national flag any where and any time.
Mohan, 12 Feb 2002

Information regarding the obsolete 1950 flag code:

A strict flag code announced in the year 1950 regulates the use and display of the national flag.

It bars the use of the flag in advertisements or for any other commercial activity.

In fact, even private citizens are not allowed to fly the flag over their homes, offices or factories except on certain designated days like the Republic Day or the Independence Day.
Source: BBC News
Contributed by Santiago Tazon, 31 August 2000

There is a clear proviso in the flag code permitting putting flower petals inside the national Tricolour before it is unfurled on special occasions like Republic Day and Independence Day... the proviso permitting the use of petals was added to Section 5.9 on January 24, 1997
Source: The Tribune
Contributed by Jaume Ollé, 5 November 2000

Presidential Standard

[Indian Presidential Standard] by Nitesh Dave

Quartered first and fourth blue, second and third red (ratio = 2:3)
1st: state emblem (the lions of Sarnath) = national unity
2nd: elephant from Ajanta frescos = patience and strength
3rd: scales from the Red Fort, Old Delhi = justice
4th: lotus vase from Sarnath = prosperity
Nitesh Dave, 19 Feb 2000

[Alternate Indian Presidential Standard], by Nitesh Dave

The presidential flag in Flags of All Nations 1955 has the figures in the first and fourth quarters outlined golden instead of white
Jaume Ollé, 27 Feb 2000