Watch: Pingali Venkayya, the Forgotten Flag Man of India

Pingali Venkayya is the creator of the Indian tricolour.

2 min read

(On Pingali Venkayya’s birth anniversary, The Quint is republishing this piece from its archives. Originally published on 14 August 2019.)

The creator of the Indian tricolour – Pingali Venkayya – is remembered by grateful fellow Indians. The great patriot died on 2 August 1876 and sadly has now become a part of the annals of history instead of being remembered among the great freedom fighters.

He first came into contact with Mahatma Gandhi during the Anglo-Boer war in Africa after he had joined the Indian Army (then governed by the British) at the age of 19.

Pingali Venkayya (also spelt as Venkaiah or Venkaiyya) had a doctorate in geology and was an expert in diamond mining, which earned him the nickname ‘Diamond Venkayya’, recalls a tweet.

Vankayya’s Kin Upset

A report in The Deccan Chronicle in April 2016 said that the relatives of Pingali Venkayya, historians and others criticised the Union Home ministry for giving “improper” information to an RTI query filed by DC regarding the designer of the national flag.

Historians and members of the Pingali Venkayya Charitable trust condemned officials of the ministry of Home Affairs and said that the national flag, which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 July, 1947, had in fact been adopted by the Indian National Congress in 1921. It had been designed by Venkayya.

Pingali Venkayya had designed the flag for the Congress at Victoria Museum in Vijayawada on March 31, 1921, and it was adopted by the then AICC general body on the same day in the city in its meeting.
Turlapati Kutumba Rao, honorary chairman of Sri Pingali Venkayya Charitable Trust

He further said that Mahatma Gandhi had announced that the tricolour was adopted by the AICC as its official flag made by Venkayya in an open meeting at Vijayawada on 1 April, 1921.

Rao asked if the government didn’t know who designed the national flag, why had it released a postal stamp on Pingali Venkayya? He also demanded that the government should announce the name of the designer of the Indian National flag, whoever it may be, if not Venkayya.

Pingali Suseela, grand-daughter of Venk-ayya stated that it was history and everyone knew that the flag had been designed by Venkayya in 1921 and adopted by Mahatma Gandhi for the National Congress. Later on, it was adopted with small changes by the Constituent Assembly in 1947.

(This story was originally published on 4 July 2016. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives on Pingali Venkayya’s birth anniversary.)

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