Behind The Art Of The Indian Tricolour

August features India’s Independence Day and the man who is widely believed to have designed the Indian flag was born on the 2nd of this month in 1876. Let’s meet Pingali Venkayya, a man who is unfortunately a stranger to most Indians.

August features India’s Independence Day and the man who is widely believed to have designed the Indian flag was also born on the 2nd of this month in 1876. Let’s meet Pingali Venkayya, a man who is unfortunately a stranger to most Indians.

Pingali who?

Pingali Venkayya, was a freedom fighter and the man who designed the Indian national flag.

Pingali, to begin with

Pingali Venkayya joined the British Indian Army when he was just 19. He took part in the brutal second Anglo-Boer war that was fought in the wild Velds of South Africa from 1899 to 1902. It’s during this time that he met Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Naturally, he was deeply influenced by Gandhi’s idea and became a follower. It was an association that lasted nearly 50 years.

Not just PIngali Venkayya

Diamond Venkayya and Cotton Venkayya were the other two names given to Pingali for his expertise in diamond mining and a keen interest in cotton research respectively.

Pingali and the Indian flag

Pingali was a learned man. He studied many subjects, one of which was art. It was his design on which the Indian national flag was based. Various national flags had been used by members of the Indian independence movement. Pingali’s version was first designed for the Indian National Congress and then modified for the Indian flag in 1947. He came up with the design and colours of the National Flag depicting sacrifice, peace and harmony after an extensive research on flags of 30 other countries for five years.

The forgotten Pingali

In 1963, Venkayya died unsung and unknown and in penury in a tiny hut in Vijayawada, leaving behind only something priceless and precious that will in all likelihood last forever.

Remembering Pingali

A postage stamp was issued to commemorate him in 2009 and in 2011 it was proposed that he be posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna, an idea that has not been executed yet. Maybe someday it will. Jai PIngali Venkayya and Jai Hind!

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

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