Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge...At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history,
when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance Jawaharlal Nehru Claiming Independence from British Midnight of August 14, 1947



There are various national symbols that represent each nation, one of them being the flag that every citizen salutes to. And every nation’s flag has a story to narrate; it has a history behind it.

The story of the Indian flag is based on a freedom struggle, which will be remembered for eons to come.

The reason for this is that here was one struggle based on the premise of peace and non-violence as propagated by Mahatma Gandhi. And this makes each citizen proud of being Indian.

The India flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya and was adopted at an ad hoc Constituent Meeting that was held on 22nd July 1947. The flag is made up of three colors placed horizontally and in equal proportion – saffron (on top), white (in the middle), green (bottom). In the center of the white portion is the Ashoka Chakra – a navy blue wheel with 24 spokes.

Where the meaning of the India flag goes, the nation’s first Vice-President, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, described it’s significance as follows: “Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work.

The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends.

The ‘Ashoka Chakra’ in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change."

Even though this is considered as one of the official descriptions of the flag; according to popular understanding saffron denotes spirituality, white is for peace, green is for abundance and the wheel represents justice. According to Independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the flag not only represents freedom of the nation; but also freedom of each and every citizen of the country.

To commemorate the tireless efforts of the nation’s freedom fighter, each year citizens across the nation gather together to hoist the flag and salute to it as they sing the National Anthem. 15th August (Independence Day) and 26th January (Republic Day), are very important dates marked on every Indian nationals calendar.


‘Free India’ was a dream of all Indians under the British rule. Everyone during that rule fought in some way or the other with a common aim of ending British and other colonial authorities in India. After a century of revolutions, struggle, blood shedding, battles and sacrifices, India finally achieved independence on August 15, 1947.

India was free in 1947 from the British Empire but the country lost many men and women who were filled with undaunted courage and spirit of patriotism. Today, they are known as freedom fighters because they sacrificed their lives for their motherland.

Indian freedom fighters with their true spirit and undaunted courage had faced various tortures, exploitations and hardships to earn us freedom.

The pioneers of the freedom movement were Mangal Pandey, Tantia Tope, Rani of Jhansi and the great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi who introduced non-violent ways of fighting the enemy. Other notable freedom fighters of India are Annie Besant, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bhagat Singh, Bipin Chandra Pal, Sukhdev, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sarojini Naidu>, Dadabhai Naoroji, Sucheta Kriplani and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.

There are endless number of men and women other than the above list who daringly fought for India’s freedom.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi..

Mahatma Gandhi popularly known as ‘Father of the Nation’ was one of the charismatic Indian leaders who fought for the freedom of the country. This great leader was born in Porbandar, Gujarat on Oct 2, 1869. He was the youngest of the three sons of Putlibai and Karamchand Gandhi. He completed his primary studies in Rajkot and was married to Kasturba at the age of 13.

In 1891, Gandhi went to London to study Law but after having admitted to Britisah bar he returned to India and began law practice in Bombay. After a span of two years he was called by an Indian company in South Africa to work as a legal advisor. There he found that he was ill-treated and abused because of inferior race and color discrimination. This was a common problem with all Indians. He then decided to throw himself into the freedom struggle to secure rights for Indian people. For this cause, Gandhi stayed in South Africa for almost 25 years.

Influenced by the Bhagvad Gita and Hindu beliefs, the Jain religion and the Christian teachings of Leo Tolstoy, Gandhi moved on the path of Satya and Ahimsa. ‘Satya’ meaning ‘truth’ and ‘ahimsa’ meaning ‘non-violence’ were the two weapons that Gandhi used to fight the enemy. He led the campaign in South Africa with the principle of Satyagraha for Indian rights and was arrested many times for his political activities. In 1914, many of Gandhi’s demands were accepted by the Government of the Union of South Africa. After his struggle in South Africa he returned to India and started Non-Cooperation movement there.

Gandhi, after returning to India inspired people to boycott British goods and refuse earthy possessions. This movement was known as Swaraj and was economically significant because Indian home industries were virtually destructed by British industrialists. He advocated renewal of native Indian industries and began to use a spinning wheel as a token of return to simple village life. Thereafter, he constantly began promoting satyagraha, non-violence, non-cooperation and swaraj to achieve independence. Finally, in August 1947, the British were forced to leave India.

Mahatma Gandhi, symbol of Free India, was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in January 1948. His mortal frame has already turned into ashes years ago but he still lives in the hearts of millions of people. Mahatma Gandhi, an embodiment of eternal love and truth, will live for immortal ages.

Mangal Pandey..

Born on July 19, 1827 in the village of Nagwa, district Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, Mangal Pandey was introduced to Indian history as the first freedom fighter and martyr of 1857. He is popularly named ‘Shaheed Mangal Pandey’ because ‘Shaheed’ means martyr in Urdu and he was the first Indian sepoy who woke up the Indian masses to fight for the nation.

Mangal Pandey, at the age of 22 joined the British East India Company as a soldier in the 34th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. He was a true freedom fighter who gave a spark to the First War of Indian Independence. The British termed it as Sepoy Mutiny 1857 as it was a mass revolt of Indian soldiers in the British Army.

The main reason of Sepoy Mutiny was the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifled musket. To load a new rifle, the soldiers had to bite the cartridge and open to pour gunpowder into the rifle’s muzzle. There was a widespread rumor that these cartridges were greased with lard or tallow. Lard is the pork fat which the Muslims regarded as unclean and tallow is the beef fat which the Hindus regarded as sacred. The British army constituted 96% of Indians and so both the Hindus and the Muslims refused to accept these cartridges. Everyone had a firm belief that this was done intentionally and this discontent turned into a major revolt.

Mass revolt forced Pandey to attack his British sergeant on the parade ground, besides wounding an adjutant. A native soldier stopped him from killing them. The officer in charge ordered a Jamadaar of the troop to arrest Pandey but he refused to do so. Mangal tried to commit suicide to light the flame of nationalism in the hearts of millions of Indians but he failed to do so. He was then captured and sentenced to death on April 8, 1857 in Barrackpore. March 29, 1857 is considered to be a day when Mangal Pandey reaped the seed for a struggle which gave India her freedom.

Lal Bahadur Shastri..

Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India, was born on October 2, 1904 at Mughalsarai, a railway colony located at seven miles away from Varanasi. He imbibed boldness, courage, selflessness, self-respect and other virtues from his parents Shradha Prasad and Ramdulari Devi.

In 1921, Gandhi Ji launched Non Cooperation Movement and called to the youth to fight for the noble cause of freedom. Shastri was highly influenced by the movement and joined the freedom struggle at the age of 17. He was arrested during the movement but was later released. He then joined Kashi Vidya Peeth and earned the degree of ‘Shashtri’. After earning this degree, he joined ‘The Servants of the People Society’ that was started by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1921, with the aim to train youth who were resolved to dedicate their lives for the country.

Bahadur Shastri married Lalita Devi in 1927. Being a true follower of Gandhi Ji, he took a spinning wheel and few yards of khadi in dowry. In response to the call of Gandhi Ji, he actively participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement, Salt Stayagraha and Quit India Movement for which he was sentenced to imprisonment several times. Finally, in 1947 Britishers were forced to quit India. Thereafter, in 1947, he was appointed as Minister of Police and Transport in Pant’s Cabinet and in 1964 as Prime Minister of India.

In 1965, war started between India and Pakistan. During this war, Shastri played a key role in maintaining internal security of the country. He coined a slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ to bring unity within the country and finally led India to victory. He died on January 10, 1966 at Tashkent after he had signed the Joint Declaration with President Agha Khan of Pakistan.

Sarojini Naidu..

Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879, in a house of intellectuals, poets, philosophers and revolutionaries. She was the eldest daughter of Aghornath Chattopadhyaya and Varasundari. Aghornath was a pioneer in education and established Nizam’s College in Hyderabd in 1878 and Varasundari was a Bengali poetess.

Imbibing virtues and cultures from her family, Sarojini was a combination of all – a good poetess, intelligent, philosopher, singer and a true freedom fighter. She was also called bulbul because she possessed a sweet voice. She completed her matriculation in Madras Presidency and received scholarship to study abroad. At the age of 16, she went to England for further studies and at the age of 21 she got married to Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu.

Sarojini joined the Indian independence movement in 1905 and came in contact with various other freedom fighters. In 1916, she met Mahatma Gandhi and was motivated to start her career as a freedom fighter. She woke up women of India from sleep and re-established self esteem within them. To do so, she traveled from state to state and city to city, asking for women’s rights.

In 1925, she presided over the annual session of Indian National Congress and later participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement. She was arrested in 1942 during the Quit India Movement and was imprisoned for several months.

She was the first Indian woman to become the Governor of the largest state of the union, Uttar Pradesh. Naidu vibrantly fought for the freedom of the country but she could not enjoy the freedom for long. She died in her office on March 2, 1949.