At the conclusion of the Second World War, the Labour Party, under Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee, came to power in Britain. The Labour Party was largely sympathetic towards Indian people for freedom. A Cabinet Mission was sent to India in March 1946, which after a careful study of the Indian political scenario, proposed the formation of an interim Government and convening of a Constituent Assembly comprising members elected by the provincial legislatures and nominees of the Indian states. A Constituent Assembly was formed in July 1946, to frame the Constitution of India and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its President. An interim Government was formed headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
On 2nd Jan 1947, Mahatma Gandhi met Lord Bevin, the personal emissary of British Prime Minister, in Delhi. Bevin is reported to have told the great man, ”Eighteen languages, 500 dialects, some 30 religions, a million Gods and Goddesses, 300 million individuals, an infinity of castes and sub castes, and a population (that is) practically illiterate and half of which (are) beggars or thieves… Good luck, sir! Such a nation is ungovernable! It’d take you centuries to get anywhere!”. Gandhiji wrapped his large, white shawl a little more closely around him, and modestly replied, ‘India has eternity before her’.
Bevin’s statement showed the challenges new born India would be facing. However, India – a developing nation, proved Bevin wrong over a period creating largest democracy in the world.
The first national flag in India is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta. The flag was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green with series of lotus, moon, sun and ‘vande mataram’ written on it. The second flag was hoisted in Paris by Madame Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries in 1907 which was very similar to the first flag except that the top strip had only one lotus but seven stars denoting the Saptarishi. In 1918, Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak hoisted another flag during the Home rule movement. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately, with seven stars in the saptarishi configuration super-imposed on them. In the left-hand top corner (the pole end) was the Union Jack. There was also a white crescent and star in one corner.
Mahatma Gandhi designed a flag comprised of a three colours: white on the top representing minorities, green in the middle for muslims and red at the bottom for the Hindu and Sikh community. A charkha(spinning wheel) was drawn across all three colours symbolizing unity among all communities of India. Not many people were happy with the communal representation with the flag proposed by Gandhi which led to a new flag designed by Pingali Venkayya. The new flag had three colours, saffron at the top, white in the middle and green at the bottom, with a charkha in between. The design of this flag was passed at a meeting of the Congress Committee in 1931 and was chosen as the official flag of the committee.
In 1947, when India gained freedom from the British, a committee headed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad decided to adopt the flag of the Congress as the national flag of India with a few modifications. With this in mind, the flag of 1931 was adopted as the national flag of India, but the charkha in the middle was replaced with the Ashoka Chakra. Thus, the Indian national flag was born. The top band is of Saffron colour, indicating the strength and courage of the country. The white middle band indicates peace and truth with Dharma Chakra. The last band is green in colour shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land.