Pingali Venkayya – The man who designed the symbol of the nation

We might have gained independence in 1947, but the symbol of a united India was developed long before that. The year was 1921 when Pingali Venkayya first presented the basic design for a national flag to the Father of the Nation. That’s where it all began.

Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, he was a freedom fighter with Gandhian ideologies. He was also an expert gemologist, writer and linguist. During his stint with the British Indian Army in South Africa he met Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and they formed an association that lasted till the death of the Mahatma. His elaborate interests earned him many nicknames such as Japan Venkayya for his fluency in Japanese, Diamond Venkayya for his interest in stones and Patti Venkayya for his research with cotton. But the nickname that resonated across the nation was – Jhanda Venkayya, for obvious reasons.

The first draft of the design that he presented to Gandhiji wasn’t what we see today. It was a flag with a red and a green band that signified the amalgamation of the two major religious groups of India. Gandhiji added his inputs which led to the creation of a tricolour with white, red and green bands and a charka in the middle, where the white signified peace and the charka was for self-reliability.

The design went through multiple iterations over the years as Venkayya and other leaders of our nation tried to find a symbol that encapsulated the values and culture to perfection. In 1931, at a meeting of Indian National Congress, the red was changed to saffron and the bands were repositioned to develop the tri-colour that we see today. The charka found a spot in the middle of the white band and that’s how the Indian National Flag was born.

The Ashok Chakra replaced the charka after we gained independence and a flag committee was created to develop that guidelines regarding the national flag that we see today.

Pigali Venkayya, the man of many talents, lived out the rest of his life peacefully till his demise in 1963. In the year 2011, a proposal was made to award him the Bharat Ratna. The final verdict on that proposal still remains unknown.

Here’s to Jhanda Venkayya. May his soul rest in peace.

Disclaimer: All images sourced from the internet and used only for inspiration. Copyrights for the images belong to their respective owners.


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