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Did Indian Flag Have Ashoka Chakra Before 1947? A Look at Tricolour's History

As per government websites and historian S Irfan Habib, the current version of our flag was adopted in 1947.

Published
India
3 min read
Did Indian Flag Have Ashoka Chakra Before 1947? A Look at Tricolour's History
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Ahead of India’s 76th Independence Day celebrations and amid the ongoing ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign, actor Satish Shah took to Twitter to share a photo of the national flag, with the caption saying that it was the “very same” tricolour flag that his mother had got during the Quit India Movement in 1942.

Netizens, however, were quick to respond to the actor, pointing out that it would not have been possible for that very flag to be around in 1942. Many users attempted to correct the actor, telling him in their tweets that the 1942 version of the Indian flag showed the charkha (spinning wheel) at its centre, and that the current version with the Ashok Chakra was adopted in 1947.

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So, How Has the Flag Evolved Over Time?

To explore the changes in the Indian flag’s colours and design over time, we took a look at the Flag Foundation of India’s website under its ‘History of Our National Flag’ section.

Here, we came across details and photographs of the flag’s evolution over time, from 1906 onwards.

The website carries photos of the flag's changing designs since 1906.

(Photo Courtesy: Flag Foundation of India/Screenshot)

According to the foundation, Pingali Venkayya was asked to design a national flag for the Indian ‘Freedom Movement’ by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. Gandhi specifically asked for the inclusion of the charkha (spinning wheel) in the flag’s design, as it “represented self reliance, progress, and common man.”

That flag was also called the Swaraj flag, the Gandhi flag, and the Charkha flag. It added that in 1931, a flag committee was constituted in Karachi to modify and redesign the flag.

Later, when Lord Mountbatten announced the Empire’s decision to free India, a committee headed by former president Dr Rajendra Prasad got together to redesign the flag again, this time for an independent nation.

With Gandhi’s consent, Venkayya’s design of the flag was modified to include the Ashok Chakra, or the emblem on the Ashoka pillar in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh. This redesigned flag, which is the current national flag, was then formally adopted in July 1947.

Know India, a government website that has information about India’s administration, symbols, and history also carries details about the country's flag. It says:

“The National Flag of India was adopted in its present form during the meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, a few days before India’s independence from the British on 15 August, 1947.”

Did Our Flag Always Have the Ashok Chakra at Its Centre?

A thorough search for visuals of the flag’s existence in its current form before 1947 returned no results on the internet.

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While some places may have used the Ashok Chakra in the flag’s centre, there is no evidence on the internet that shows that the current version of the flag was widely accepted or used in India.

The Quint spoke to S Irfan Habib, historian of science and modern political history, who also confirmed that the current version of the Indian national flag was adopted in 1947.

“The tricolour was adopted in the Karachi Congress session in 1931. But a few other things, like the chakra were added later on. The final form was given by Surayya Tyabji, in 1947. So the tiranga was accepted in the 1929 Lahore session, when it was decided that the Congress would fight for complete independence.”
S Irfan Habib, Historian of Science and Modern Political History

He added that the tricolour was accepted as the national flag (the version with the charkha) on 26 January 1931, “which is why we celebrate it as our Republic Day,” Habib said.

Therefore, we did not find any pictorial, historic, or videographic evidence of the flag existing in its current form before 1947.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from news and india

Topics:  Indian Flag   Tricolour   Satish Shah 

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