Table of contents
The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi at Ten of the Clock, Mr. President (The Honourable Dr. Rajendra Prasad) in the Chair.
PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS AND SIGNING OF THE REGISTER
The following Member presented his Credentials and signed the Register;
Mr. Jai Sukh Lal Hathi (Residuary States Group);
Sir, I wish to draw your attention to a very important constitutional issue. I think, and everybody knows, that we are meeting as a sovereign body here and making the constitution for a future Free India. But in the envelopes used by the Assembly Office we still find on the top the words ‘On His Majesty’s Service’. I think this is not proper and I draw the attention of the House and yourself to this matter. I hope these words will be dropped from the envelopes in future in the correspondence conducted by the Assembly Office.
RESOLUTION RE. NATIONAL FLAG
We shall proceed with the agenda. The first item on the agenda is a Motion by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru about the Flag.
Mr. President, it is my proud privilege to move the following Resolution:
“Resolved that the National Flag of India shall be horizontal tricolour of deep Saffron (Kesari), white and dark green in equal proportion. In the centre of the white band, there shall be a Wheel in navy blue to represent the Charkha. The design of the Wheel shall be that of the Wheel (Chakra) which appears on the abacuse of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Asoka.The diameter of the Wheel shall approximate to the width of the white band.The ratio of the width to the length of the Flag shall ordinarily be 2:3.“
This Resolution, Sir, is in simple language, in a slightly technical language and there is no glow or warmth in the words that I have read. Yet I am sure that many in this House will feel that glow and warmth which I feel at the present moment for behind this Resolution and the Flag which I have the honour to present to this House for adoption lies history, the concentrated history of a short span in a nation’s existence. Nevertheless, sometimes in a brief period we pass through the track of centuries. It is not so much the mere act of living that counts but what one does in this brief life that is ours; it is not so much the mere existence of a nation that counts but what that nation does during the various periods of its existence; and I do venture to claim that in the past quarter of a century or so India has lived and acted in a concentrated way and the emotions which have filled the people of India represent not merely a brief spell of years but something infinitely more. They have gone down into history and tradition and have added themselves on to that vast history and tradition which is our heritage in this country. So, when I move this Resolution, I think of this concentrated history through which all of us have passed during the last quarter of a century. Memories crowd upon me. I remember the ups and downs of the great struggle for freedom of this great nation. I remember and many in this House will remember how we looked up to this Flag not only with pride and enthusiasm but with a tingling in our veins; also how; when we were sometimes down and out, then again the sight of this Flag gave us courage to go on. Then, many who are not present here today, many of our comrades who have passed, held on to this Flag, some amongst them even unto death and handed it over as they sank, to others to hold it aloft. So, in this simple form of words, there is much more than will be clear on the surface. There is the struggle of the people for freedom with all its ups and downs and trials and disasters and there is, finally today as I move this Resolution, a certain triumph about it–a measure of triumph in the conclusion of that struggle.
Now, I realise fully, as this House must realise, that this triumph of ours has been marred in many ways. There have been, especially in the past few months many happenings which cause us sorrow, which has gripped our hearts. We have seen parts of this dear motherland of ours cut off from the rest. We have seen large numbers of people suffering tremendously, large numbers wandering about like waifs and strays, without a home. We have seen many other things which I need not repeat to this House, but which we cannot forget. All this sorrow has dogged our footsteps. Even when we have achieved victory and triumph, it still dogs us and we have tremendous problems to face in the present and in the future. Nevertheless it is true I think–hold it to be true–that this moment does represent a triumph and a victorious conclusion of all our struggles, for the moment. (Hear, hear).
There has been a very great deal of bewailing and moaning about various things that have happened. I am sad, all of us are sad at heart because of those things. But let us distinguish that from the other fact of triumph because there is triumph in victory, in what has happened. It is no small thing that that great and mighty empire which has represented imperialist domination in this country has decided to end its days here. That was the objective we aimed at.
We have attained that objective or shall attain it very soon. Of that there is no doubt. We have not attained the objective exactly in the form in which we wanted it. The troubles and other things that companies our achievement are not to our liking. But we must remember that it is very seldom that people realise the dreams that they have dreamt. It is very seldom that the aims and objectives with which we start are achieved in their entirety in life in an individual’s life or in a nation’s life.
We have many examples before us. We need not go into the distant past. We have examples in the present or in the recent past. Some years back, a great war was waged, a world war bringing terrible misery to mankind. That war was meant for freedom and democracy and the rest. That war ended in the triumph of those who said they stood for freedom and democracy. Yet, hardly had that war ended when there were rumours of fresh wars and fresh conflicts.
Three days ago, this House and this country and the world was shocked by the brutal murder in a neighbouring country of the leaders of the nation. Today one reads in the papers of an attack by an imperialist power on a friendly country South-East Asia. Freedom is still far off in this world and nations, all nations in greater or lesser degree are struggling for their freedom. If we in the present have not exactly achieved what we aimed at, it is not surprising. There is nothing in it to be ashamed of. For I do think our achievement is no small achievement. It is a very considerable achievement, a great achievement. Let no man run it, down because other things have happened which are not to our liking. Let us keep these two things apart. Look at any country in the wide world. Where is the country today, including the great and big powers, which is not full of terrible problems, which is not in some way, politically and economically, striving for freedom which somehow or other eludes its grasp? The problems of India in the wider context do not appear to be terrible. The problems are not anything new to us. We have faced many disagreeable–things in the past. We have not held back. We shall face all the other disagreeable things that face us in the present or may do so in the future and we shall not flinch and we shall not falter and we shall not quit. (Loud applause).
So, in spite of everything that surrounds us, it is in no spirit of down heartedness that I stand up in praise of this Nation for what it has achieved. (Renewed cheers). It is right and proper that at this moment we should adopt the symbols of this achievement, the symbol of freedom. Now what is this freedom in its entirety and for all humanity. What is freedom and what is the struggle for freedom and when does it end. As soon as you take one step forward and achieve something further steps come up before you. There will be no full freedom in this country or in the world as long as a single human being is unfree. There will be no complete freedom as long as there is starvation, hunger, lack of clothing, lack of necessaries of life and lack of opportunity of growth for every single human being, man, woman and child in the country. We aim at that. We may not accomplish that because it is a terrific task. But we shall do our utmost to accomplish that task and hope that our successors when they come, have an easier path to pursue. But there is no ending to that road to freedom. As we go ahead, just as we sometimes in our vanity aim at perfection, perfection never comes. But if we try hard enough we do approach the goal step by step. When we increase the happiness of the people, we increase their stature in many ways and we proceed to our goal. I do not know if there is an end to this or not, but we proceed towards some kind of consummationwhich in effect never ends.
So I present this Flag to you. This Resolution defines the Flag which I trust you will adopt. In a sense this Flag was adopted, not by a formal resolution, but by popular acclaim and usage, adopted much more by the sacrifice that surrounded it in the past few decades. We are in a sense only ratifying that popular adoption. It is a Flag which has been variously described. Some people, having misunderstood its significance, have thought of it in communal terms and believe that some part of it represents this community or that. But I may say that when this Flag was devised there was no communal significance attached to it. We thought of a design for a Flag which was beautiful, because the symbol of a nation must be beautiful to look at. We thought of a Flag which would in its combination and in its separate parts would somehow represent the spirit of the nation, the tradition of the nation, that mixed spirit and tradition which has grown up through thousands of years in India. So, we devised this Flag. Perhaps I am partial but I do think that it is a very beautiful Flag to look at purely from the point of view of artistry, and it has come to symbolise many other beautiful things, things of the spirit, things of the mind, that give value to the individual’s life and to the nation’s life, for a nation does not live merely by material things, although they are highly important. It is important that we should have the good things of the world, the material possessions of the world, that our people should have the necessaries of life. That is of the utmost importance. Nevertheless, a nation, and especially a nation like India with an immemorial past, lives by other things also, the things of the spirit. If India had not been associated with these ideals and things of the spirit during these thousands of years, what would India have been? It has gone through a very great deal of misery and degradation in the past, but somehow even in the depths of degradation, the head of India has been held high, the thought of India has been high, and the ideals of India have been high. So we have gone through these tremendous ages and we stand up today in proud thankfulness for our past and even more so for the future that is to come for which we are going to work and for which our successors are going to work. It is our privilege of those assembled here, to mark the transition in a particular way, in a way that will be remembered.
I began by saying that it is my proud privilege to be ordered to move this Resolution. Now, Sir, may I say a few words about this particular Flag? It will be seen that there is a slight variation from the one many of us have used during these past years. The colours are the same, a deep saffron, a white and a dark green. In the white previously there was the Charkha which symbolised the common man in India, which symbolised the masses of the people, which symbolised their industry and which came to us from the message which Mahatma Gandhi delivered. (Cheers) Now, this particular Charkha symbol has been slightly varied in this Flag, not taken away at all. Why then has this been varied? Normally speaking, the symbol on one side-of the Flag should be exactly the same as on the other side. Otherwise, there is a difficulty which goes against the rules. Now, the Charkha, as it appeared previously on this Flag, had the wheel on one side and the spindle on the other. If you see the other side of the Flag, the spindle comes the other way and the wheel comes this way; if it does not do so, it is not proportionate, because the wheel must be towards the pole, not towards the end of the Flag. There was this practical difficulty. Therefore, after considerable thought, we were of course convinced that this great symbol which had enthused people should continue but that it should continue in a slightly different form, that the wheel should be there, not the rest of the Charkha, that is the spindle and the string which created this confusion, that the essential part of the Charkha should be there, that is the wheel. So, the oldtradition continue in regard to the Charkha and the wheel. But what type of wheel should we have? Our minds went back to many wheels but notably one famous wheel, which had appeared in many places and which all of us have seen, the one at the top of the capita of the Asoka column and in many other places. That wheel is a symbol of India’s ancient cultureit is a symbol of the many things that India had stood for through the ages. So we thought that this Chakra emblem should be there, and that wheel appears. For my part, I am exceedingly happy that in this sense indirectly we have associated with this Flag of ours not only this emblem but in a sense the name of Asoka, one of the most magnificent names not only in India’s history but in world history. It is well that at this moment of strife, conflict and intolerance, our minds should go back towards what India stood for in the ancient days and what it has stood for, I hope and believe, essentially throughout the ages in spite of mistakes and errors and degradations from time to time. For, if India had not stood for something very great, I do not think that India could have survived and carried on its cultural traditions in a more or less continuous manner through these vast ages. It carried on its cultural tradition, not unchanging, not rigid, but always keeping its essence, always adapting itself to new developments, to new influences. That has been the tradition of India, always to put out fresh blooms and flowers, always receptive to the good things that it receives, sometimes receptive to bad things also, but always true to her ancient culture. All manner of new influences through thousands of years have influenced us, while we influenced them tremendously also, for you will remember that India has not been in the past a tight little narrow country, disdaining other countries. India throughout the long ages of her history has been connected with other countries, not only connected with other countries, but has been an international centre, sending out her people abroad to far off countries carrying her message and receiving the message of other countries in exchange, but India was strong enough to remain embedded on the foundations on which she was built although changes many changes, have taken place. The strength of India it has been said, consists in this strong foundation. It consists also in its amazing capacity to receive, to adapt what it wants to adapt, not to reject because something is outside its scope, but to accept and receive everything. It is folly for any nation or race to think that it can only give to and not receive from the rest of the world. Once a nation or a race begins to think like that, it becomes rigid, it becomesungrowing; it grows backwards and decays. In fact, if India’s history can be traced India’s periods of decay are those when it closed herself up into a shell and refused to receive or to look at the outside world. India’s greatest periods are those when she stretched her hands to others in far off countries, sent her emissaries ambassadors, her trade agents and merchants to these countries and received ambassadors and emissaries from abroad.
Now because I have mentioned the name of Asoka I should like you to think that the Asokan period in Indian history was essentially an international period of Indian history. It was not a narrowly national period. It was a period when India’s ambassadors went abroad to far countries and went abroad not in the way of an Empire and imperialism but as ambassadors of peace and culture and goodwill. (Cheers.)
Therefore this Flag that I have the honour to present to you is not. I hope and trust, a Flag of Empire, a Flag of Imperialism, a Flag of domination over anybody, but a Flag of freedom not only for ourselves, but a symbol of–freedom to all people who may see it. (Cheers). And wherever it may go-and I hope it will go far,–not only where Indians dwell as our ambassadors and ministers but across the far seas where it may be carried by Indian ships, wherever it may go it will bring a message, I hope, of freedom to those people, a message of comradeship, a message that India wants to be friends with every country of the world and India wants to help any people who seek freedom. (Hear, hear). That I hope will be the message of this Flag everywhere and I hope that in the freedom that is coming to us, we will not do what many other people or some other people have unfortunately done, that is, in a newfound strength suddenly to expand and become imperialistic in design. If that happened that would be a terrible ending to our struggle for freedom. (Hear, hear.) But there is that danger and, therefore, I venture to remind this House of it–although this House needs no reminder–there is this danger in a country suddenly unshackled in stretching out its arms and legs and trying to hit out at other people. And if we do that we become just like other nations who seem to live in a kind of succession of conflicts and preparation for conflict. That is the world today unfortunately.
In some degree I have been responsible for the foreign policy during the past few months and always the question is asked here or elsewhere: “What is your foreign policy? To what group do you adhere to in this warring world?” Right at the beginning I venture to say that we propose to belong to no power group. We propose to function as far as we can as peace-makers and peace-bringers because today we are not strong enough to be able to have our way. But at any rate we propose to avoid all entanglements with power politics in the world. It is not completely possible to do that in this complicated world of ours, but certainly we are going to do our utmost to that end.
It is stated in this Resolution that the ratio of the width to the length of the Flag shall ordinarily be 2:3. Now you will notice the word “ordinarily”. There is no absolute standard about the ratio because the same Flag on a particular occasion may have a certain ratio that might be more suitable or on any other occasion in another place the ratio might differ slightly. So there is no compulsion about this ratio. But generally speaking, the ratio of 2:3 is a proper ratio. Sometimes the ratio 2:1 may be suitable for a Flag flying on a building. Whatever the ratio may be, the point is not so much the relative length and breadth, but the essential design.
So, Sir, now I would present to you not only the Resolution but the Flag itself.
There are two of these National Flags before you. One is on silk–the one I am holding–and the other on the other side is of cotton Khadi.
I beg to move this Resolution. (Cheers.)
I have got notice of three amendments to this Resolution.
Mr. President, Sir, my amendment reads as follows:”That the following new para. be inserted in the motion: “That inside the Chakra in the centre of the white band, the swastika, the ancient Indian symbol of Shantam, Shivam, Sundaram, be inscribed’.”
When I sent in the amendment, I had not seen the design of the Flag. There were at that time two or three, considerations uppermost in my mind. I thought that this Flag, being the Flag of our new Indian Republic, of Bharatavarsha, should adequately symbolise our ancient culture, the culture of our spirit, the spirit which has animated our sages and our seers, which gave the message of Shantam, Shivam, Sundaram to the world, the message of peace, the peace not merely of stillness, not merely a passive peace, but a dynamic peace thatpasseth all understanding, the peace of which the great Valmiki has sung (Samudraiva gambirye dhairyecha himavaniva). I thought, Sir, if the Swastika be inscribed inside the Chakra it would along with the Dharma Chakra of Asoka fittingly symbolise our ancient culture, that is to say, the exoteric and esoteric aspects of our culture. The Dharma Chakra symbolises the esoteric and the Swastika symbolises the esoteric aspects. But, Sir, I have now seen the flag and I find that it is somewhat hard to fit the Swastika into this Chakra. It would look cumbersome because of the design of the Chakra. The Chakra symbolises the Dharma Chakra or the Wheel of the Law, the Wheel of Samsara which revolves on these eternal verities ofShantam, Shivam, Sundaram. These verities sustain the Samsara and in them we as part of that universe live and move and have our being. Pandit Nehru referred to our role as peace-makers and peace-bringers. That is certainly true. India’s role has been that from years sempiternal, from the beginning of time. In the words of Swami Vivekananda, we have never dipped our hands in the neighbour’s blood, our embattled cohorts have never marched into other lands for conquest, and we have always been the harbingers of peace and the makers of peace in this war-torn, war-weary world. Mr. President, Sir, after having seen the design of this Flag, I do see that it is difficult to fit the Swastika in, much as I would like to see it fitted in. It would make it rather clumsy and cumbersome. In these circumstances, I do not press this amendment and beg leave of the House to withdraw it.
Mr. Tajamul Husain.
He is not present.
Mr. President, Sir, after such an impressive and emotional speech by Pandit Nehru one hesitates to say or add anything that may be interpreted or considered to take away from its effect. We always respect his words and on a somewhat sentimental question like this, our respect approaches adoration. I have some very strong grounds on which my amendment was based. It is not in any way or sense discordant with the speech to which we have just listened. My idea was essentially based on the retention of the tricolour absolutely intact with the charkha retained as it is–charkha which is the emblem of Ahimsa and the common toiling man associated so inseparably with the acquisition of our political freedom, and the name of Mahatma Gandhi. But in view of the fact that the House would rather stick to the Flag that has been proposed I do not wish to move the amendment, although I still feel that my idea has much in it to recommend itself.
Mr. Shibbanlal Saksena had given notice of an amendment to the above amendment of Dr. Deshmukh but since that amendment itself has not been moved, no question of this amendment to the amendment being moved arises. Now we shall discuss the Resolution.
*[Mr. President, I have come here to support the resolution moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. I consider this day a landmark in the history of India. Today, Independent India is displaying her national flag. Everyone who has taken part in the struggle for freedom during the last twenty-seven years is today reminded like Panditji of the events during that period. We were unarmed and helpless and had no resources for achieving independence. But the way in which this battle of freedom has been fought and victory achieved has no parallel, not only in the history of India but also in the history of the world. Today we are achieving the victory for which we were trying for the last so many years. We are also reminded of those who came forward so many times to pull down this flag, to trample it and to set fire to it. But when Truth and Justice were with us, it was altogether impossible to trample it and to finish it in that way. After twenty-seven years we have been able to prove to the world that even an unarmed nation with no resources at its command, can achieve freedom, if it follows the path of Justice and Truth.
Today. I am reminded of the day when in 1922, Pandit Motilal Nehru came to Jubbulpore for the first time. I am a resident of Jubbulpore. That was the first time when this flag was displayed in India. At that time it had three colours–red, white and green. It was a tricolour no doubt. At that time, this flag was hoisted over the Town Hall of Jubbulpore for the first time in India. Who is not reminded of Pandit Motilal on seeing Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru? At that time a question was raised in the House of Commons as to how this flag was hoisted over a public hall and the Prime Minister of Great Britain assured the house that no event of the sort would be repeated in India in future. But I am pleased to find today that the flag which was hoisted for the first time twenty-five years ago in Jubbulpore, my home town, will now be unfurled over every public building there. It will be a matter of pride for everyone in India.
There is no touch of communalism in the three colours of the flag. [Panditji has already told you this in the course of his speech. It is true that at a time when the colours were red, white and green there was a trace of communalism in the flag. But when we change these colours to saffron, white and green, we declared it in clear words that the three colours had no communal significance. At that time, we also made it clear as to what these colours signified. Those who have been maddened by Communalism today, should not take this flag to be a communal flag. You see that it has the Asoka chakra in the middle. Panditji told you what a great place Asoka has in our history. After the battle of Kalinga, Asoka tried to unite the whole world with love and he achieved such success that the historians not only of this country but also of the whole world admit that there has been no Emperor like Asoka in the world. Mr. H. G. Wells writes in his History of the World that while the rest of the Emperors led a bloody life, Asoka alone tried to unite the world with love.
When we see the colours of our flag we should keep in mind other things also. I want to tell those who say that the saffron colour represents Hindus, that it is wrong to say so. No doubt at one time it was the colour of the Hindus. During the regime of the Peshwas it was the colour of the Hindus. In their fights for freedom, Rajputs used saffron dress and saffron ensign. But if we go more remote into the past, we will have to accept that saffron was not the colour of these times. You may be knowing that in the times of Mahabharata there was no question of colour. The flag flying over the chariot of Arjun had the symbol of Hanuman. Karna’s flag had the symbol of the elephant. Therefore to describe any colour as the ancientcolour of the Hindus is historically wrong. I say that it is natural that the flag under which we fought the battle of freedom during the last twenty-seven years and have now achieved independence, should be our national flag. I am pained to see that at present, some people maddened with communalism are bringing about such events, which I am confident, after sometime when sense will dawn upon them, will make them very much ashamed of themselves. Only day before yesterday a meeting was held in Delhi regarding Hindi. The motion that Hindi should be the national language and Devanagari script the national script, was to be moved in the meeting. Pandemonium prevailed in the meeting and national flags were removed from cars and thrown away. I say that to be mad with communalism and to do such things and to insult the flag in this way is an insult to the whole nation. Human beings live in this country and not gods and they have the three dispositions of “Satvaguna, Rajoguna and Tamoguna” (‘goodness, passion and dullness’). If such incidents occur, peace, righteousness and happiness of which this flag is the symbol, will disappear from this land. Therefore I warn these people, who are mad with communalism that they should not do such things. As regards the green colour, there was a time when this was the colour of the flag of the war of Independence. I would remind you of the war of Independence of 1857. At that time, the colour of our flag was green and under it we fought that battle. It was at that time not the colour of Muslims alone or of Hindus but of all those who fought the war of Independence. Therefore nothing is more painful than to be against any particular colour and that too at a time when the whole of India is becoming independent and this flag will be hoisted everywhere in the country. We have styled this flag as a world-conqueror and have spoken of its conquest of the world with love. We want to conquer the world with non-violence and love. This is its symbol. When we will have done that, we will have fulfilled our pledge. I support this resolution with all my heart.]*
Mr. President, Sir, I appear before you today to support the Resolution so ably moved by our great national leader Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who had a lion’s share in the freedom struggle of this great country.
Sir, he has explained to us the significance of this Flag which is to be held and defended by the millions of the inhabitants that live In this great country. It is not to be the Flag of the rich or the wealthy but it is to be the Flag of the depressed, oppressed and submerged classes all over our country.
Sir, I particularly welcome the introduction of the wheel in the centre. Mahatma Gandhi gave us the great mantra that lies in the matter of the Charkha. Those of us who have taken to Charkha feel proud today after so many centuries of political struggle in this country, that it has been possible to bring a Flag for this country which was lacking all these centuries.
I also welcome the introduction of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Asoka. Asoka, coming as he did after the great Buddhist order, has given us the great Panchaseelam, above all, sympathy for humanity.
The Harijan classes and all those communities who are in the lowest rung of the ladder of society, feel that the constitution which is on the anvil of this supreme body is going ofbring solace to the millions of the submerged classes. The principle of Buddha who exhibited practically his great sympathy for suffering human beings, I am sure, Sir, will be practically carried out after accepting this great Flag.
With these words, I support the Resolution.
*[Mr. President I support the resolution moved by Pandit Nehru (Cheers). I think that from today everyone, who regards himself as a citizen of India–be he a Muslim, Hindu or Christian,–will as a citizen make all sacrifices to uphold and maintain the honour of the flag which is accepted and passed as the flag of India (Cheers). I do not wish to narrate again history which is wrong. I want that all of us should forget the past and should oust from our minds the old things. Therefore, I hope that the majority too shall forget the past. All of us should make a fresh history of India from today in which everyone, who has got sincerity, dignity and interest in the reconstruction of the country and the nation, may join hands. I know that a flag to look at, is simply a piece of cloth but a country’s flag symbolises its ideals and its aspirations, both moral and spiritual. I feel happy that none, who calls himself a citizen of India, can have occasion to disagree with the speech of Pandit Nehru in support of the flag. Therefore, I think that from whatever angle, we may view it, the step taken today will only strengthen the foundations of India. Every Muslim, Hindu and Christian will feel proud in hoisting this flag throughout the length and breadth of India, and he shall honour it (Cheers). With these words I support the motion.]*
Mr. President, Sir I do not wish to say very much after the very eloquent way in which Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru presented this Flag and the Resolution to you. The Flag links up the past and the present. It is the legacy bequeathed to us by the architects of our liberty. Those who fought under this Flag are mainly responsible for the arrival of this great day of Independence for India. Pandit Jawaharlal has pointed out to you that it is not a day of joy unmixed with sorrow. The Congress fought for unity and liberty. The unity has been compromised; liberty too. I feel, has been compromised, unless we are able to face the tasks which now confront us with courage, strength and vision. What is essential to-day is to equip ourselves with new strength and with new character if these difficulties are to be overcome and if the country is to achieve the great ideal of unity and liberty which it fought for. Times are hard. Everywhere we are consumed by fantasies. Our minds are haunted by myths. The world is full of misunderstandings, suspicions and distrusts. In these difficult days it depends on us under what banner we fight. Here we are Putting in the very centre the white, the white of the Sun’s rays. The white means the path of light. There is darkness even at noon as some People have urged, but it is necessary for us to dissipate these clouds of darkness and control our conduct by the ideal light, the light of truth, of transparent simplicity which is illustrated by the colour of white.
We cannot attain purity, we cannot gain our goal of truth, unless we walk in the path of virtue. The Asoka’s wheel represents to us the wheel of the Law, the wheel Dharma. Truth can be gained only by the pursuit of the path of Dharma, by the practice of virtue. Truth,–Satya, Dharma–Virtue, these ought to be the controlling principles of all those who work under this Flag. It also tells us that the Dharma is something which is perpetually moving. If this country has suffered in the recent past, it is due to our resistance to change. There are ever so many challenges hurled at us and if we have not got the courage and the strength to move along with the times, we will be left behind. There are ever so many institutions which are worked into our social fabric like caste and untouchability. Unless these things are scrapped we cannot say that we either seek truth or practise virtue. This wheel which is a rotating thing, which is a perpetually revolving thing, indicates to us that there is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. Our Dharma is Sanatana, eternal, not in the sense that it is a fixed deposit but in the sense that it is perpetually changing. Its uninterrupted continuity is its Sanatana character. So even with regard to our social conditions it is essential for us to move forward.
The red, the orange, the Bhagwa colour represents the spirit of renunciation it is said:
(Sarve tyage rajadharmesu drsta).
All forms of renunciation are to be embodied in Raja Dharma. Philosophers must be Kings. Our leaders must be disinterested. They must be dedicated spirits. They must be people who are imbued with the spirit of renunciation which that saffron, colour has transmitted to us from the beginning of our history. That stands for the fact that the World belongs not to the wealthy, not to the prosperous but to the meek and the humble, the dedicated and the detached. That spirit of detachment that spirit of renunciation is represented by the orange or the saffron colour and Mahatma Gandhi has embodied it for us in his life and the Congress has worked under his guidance and with his message. If we are not imbued with that spirit of renunciation in these difficult days, we will again go under.
The green is there–our relation to the soil, our relation to the plant life here on which all other life depends. We must build our Paradise here on this green earth. If we are to succeed in this enterprise, we must be guided by truth (white), practice virtue (wheel), adopt the method of self-control and renunciation (saffron). This Flag tells us ‘Be ever alert, be ever on the move, go forward, work for a free, flexible compassionate, decent, democratic, society in which Christians, Sikhs, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists will all find a safe shelter.’
Thank you. (Loud cheers).
Mr. President, Sir, as I had listened from my seat to the great speech which was delivered by our great leader on a great subject, the first thought that rose in my mind was that there should be no more speeches on that subject and that the Resolution should be adopted unanimously from every section of the House by acclamation. But since it was not to be and some speeches were made–fortunately no amendments are being considered–I ventured to come up here and say a few words in support of the Resolution.
Sir, I should like to say that the proposal which has been put before us has the support of the Indian States also. (Cheers). One of our representatives, a distinguished Prime Minister, participated in the deliberations of the Committee which has brought this proposal before you through Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sir, this is a historic occasion when free India is going to adopt a National Flag and I wish you to understand that a very large majority of the Indian States in India are and remain an integral part of India. (Cheers)
Sir, when I was listening to Pandit Nehru’s speech from my seat, I felt he symbolised to me in my vision the subject of the Resolution which he was moving, the sombre background of the panels of this room and Pandit Nehru in his spotless white. Knowing Pandit Nehru as we do, I am sure I am not exaggerating when I say that he in his figure represented the significance of the subject-matter of this Resolution.
Sir, as he explained to us the contents of the Flag, and its design, especially when he was coming to the Chakra of Asoka’s column, I thought he would also refer to it as symbolisingthe participation of the Indian States in the Indian Union. For the first time, Sir, after a long, long time, we will have India ruled for India and by Indians. Again Pandit Nehru symbolisesthis also–the symbol of self-rule. But you will pardon my saying that in a large part of India which you colour yellow on the map the ideal of self-rule was maintained by the Indian States. Please do not analyse this proposition on the basis of political philosophy. When we are discussing the Flag of India we are not discussing abstract doctrines or political practices, but primarily things which are symbolic, things of sentiment. Am I far wrong in saying that the Chakra of Asoka represents the Indian States, because since the time of Asoka theGreat, the whole country has not been under Indian rule, ruled by Indians for Indians? At any rate, some of us would like to look upon it with that sentiment. I am, therefore, speaking here not only on my own behalf, but also on behalf of a large number of States; I have not consulted them, but I am sure they will agree with me when I say that this Flag whether it is flying over a building in India or on the high seas in foreign waters, this Flag would represent the combined sentiments of the Union of India, irrespective of what places of worship we go to, irrespective of the difference in our names and nomenclatures; we are all Indians and this is our Flag.
Sir, I wholeheartedly support the Resolution.
Mr. President, Sir, I am sorry that some controversy has been created about the Resolution which was so admirably moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru about the question of the consideration of the Indian Flag. Some gentlemen suggested that there should be some variation in the colours represented on this Flag. Some wanted that the………. (Hon’ble Members: “No, no”.) Very well.
While appreciating the motive which has actuated these gentlemen in making this representation, yet, speaking for myself, I say that so far as this Flag is concerned, it is the best Flag and I do endorse whatever Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has said this morning while sponsoring this Resolution.
Sir, the white, the saffron and the green colours, signify renunciation, purity or sacrifice. Great spiritual significance is attached to them. These colours are venerated by all persons, whether they are Hindus, or Muslims, Christians or Parsis. The Chakra which is there in the centre of the Flag symbolises motion, progress and advancement and from aesthetic and other considerations also, it suits the genius, tradition and culture of India. As was said by Chaudhuri Khaliquzzaman, it is a Flag which deserves the respect of everybody who lives and has his being in India. With these words, Sir, I have very great pleasure in supporting the Resolution sponsored by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
I suggest, Sir, that the question be now put.
The question may be put.
I have got the names of some twenty-five speakers here because it is an occasion on which everyone would like to express himself. But I think it is not necessary to carry on the debate any further, because we have heard from members all that could be said. I would, therefore, put the closure motion to vote.
Sir, before closure is applied, I would like to submit that more speeches should be allowed, because on an occasion like this everybody should be given the opportunity to express his thoughts.
Sir, this is a memorable day and the opportunity to express himself should be given to everyone who wishes to speak.
Sir, it is not every day that we will be adopting a National Flag for the country and as such it is but proper that if a few more members want to speak to-day they should be allowed to do so.
Sir, let us have the whole of today as the Flag day.
I am entirely in the hands of the House; if you do not want more speeches, I shall stop here, but if members want more opportunities to speak I shall proceed in the order in which I have got the names here with me.
We want to hear the old mother.
We would like to hear the “Bul-bul-e-Hind.”
I will call upon her at the end. I am sure it will be the sweetest speech and we should, according to our old custom, end with sweets. (Cheers).
Mr. Saadulla may now speak.
Mr. President, Sir, my intervention in this debate was not at all necessary, in view of the very learned and able speech of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and speeches from other quarters. The reason for my standing before you is that I want to make perfectly clear our position. The Muslim members who are in this House in spite of the fact that you have extended to them “swagatam” on the very first day, are looked upon by some members with distrust and attempts were made to debar us from participating in this August Assembly unless we disclaim certain opinions we hold. I have seen in the press certain references that the Muslim members in this Constituent Assembly are unwanted, and some papers had gone to the length of saying that the Muslim members here will be fifth columnists and saboteurs of the Constitution. I am very glad that the Resolution of Pandit Nehru gives us a chance of belying these aspersions and removing distrust by proclaiming from the housetops our allegiance to the Union of India where by accident of residence and birth we happen to be. It the injunction of Islam, emphasized by instructions from League High Command and leaders, that wherever we be we must be good and loyal to the government which functions there. Acting on the principle I salute the Flag which has been presented to the House by Pandit Nehru.
In my opinion the Flag symbolises the evolution of our aspirations, the fulfillment of our struggles and the ultimate result of all our sacrifices. If I may be permitted to draw an analogy from nature, the saffron represents the condition of the earth, the scorched condition caused by the torrid heat of the Indian Sun. When the crystal-clear white raindrops and the water from the snow-capped mountains and rivers comes down we get out and areas converted into smiling green fields the crops of which sustain us and conduce to the growth of the people. Similarly we had in our political struggle our scorched earth days but later on came our days of hope and today this Flag unfurled in this House has brought us to the culminating point, the desiderata of our past struggles. I am glad, Sir, that the Flag remains as it is and that the amendments proposed were not moved, for India is represented in the different colours of this Flag. India is very well noted for her spiritual attainments. Everywhere it is admitted that India has got a great spiritual message to send out to the different countries of the world. The saffron, as is well known, is the colour of all those people who live the spiritual life not only among Hindus but also among Muslims. Therefore the saffroncolour should remind us that we should keep ourselves on that high plane of renunciation which has been the realm of our Sadhus and saints, Pirs and Pandits. I therefore welcome the inclusion of this colour in the Flag.
Next I come to the white portion. White both among Hindus and Muslims is the emblem of purity. In congratulate the High Command of the Indian National Congress that by a bold stroke of imagination they took up the white cap as the symbol of their creed. The presence of the white portion in this Flag should remind everyone who takes it up that we must be pure not only in word but also in deed. Purity should be the motto of our life,–individually as well as in connection with the State.
Lastly, Sir, green reminds me of the fact that it was the emblem of the upsurge of India’s freedom. Green was the emblem of the Flag which was raised by Bahadur Shah in 1857. But it has more than a sentimental or symbolical value to us Muslims because green was the colour of the Flag of the Muslims from the time of the great Prophet of Arabia thirteen centuries ago. Some may regret that the Charkha which was the emblem of the masses has been replaced by the Dharma chakra of Asoka. But I consider that it was really a heaven-born inspiration of the authorities that this Chakra now takes the place of the Charkha. Although the Charkha was the emblem of our self-help and of our approach to the common masses and was embodied in our activities by the message of the Mahatma, yet towards the later stage the ideal of Charkha had been polluted, the instruction or inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi had been deviated from and those who wore the Charkha which was the symbol of non-violence were most violent in their actions which at one time Pandit Nehru had at great personal risk to assuage. The Dharma chakra of Asoka reminds us of the condition of the people at the time of that great Buddhist Emperor of India. He ruled not for his personalaggrandisement but for the contentment, peace and prosperity of the people under his charge. This emblem now embodied in our National Flag ought to remind every administrator and every citizen of the federation of India that we should forget the past and look to the future and try to carry on the tradition of that great Buddhist Emperor Asoka, and we should be reminded at all times that we are here not only for our material prosperity but also for our spiritual advancement. This Chakra was a religious emblem and we cannot dissociate our social life from our religious environments.
Sir, with these few words not only on behalf of myself but also as Deputy Leader of the Muslim League Party and as an old inhabitant of the furthest and the smallest province of the Indian Union, Assam, I salute this Flag as a symbol of India’s freedom.
Mr. President, ever since the Indian Christian community became conscious of the fact that it was fundamentally an Indian community, its great leaders in the past have always fully identified themselves with the Indian Nationalism. I need only remind those, who do me the honour of listening to me, of the name of the late Kaka Baptist of Bombay, of the late K C. Bannerjee of Bengal, of the late Bishop Chidambaram of the United Provinces and the late Dr. S. K. Dutta of Punjab. These names are only a few out of the many I could quote to prove that we have all along identified ourselves fully with Indian Nationalism. From one point of view we have been misunderstood. It has been held that because we profess Christianity,–essentially an Asiatic religion,–and because we have certain contacts with foreign missions, therefore the Indian Christian community has what is known as Christian mentality. It is not so and I stand here to say that it is an incorrect idea. It is a misconception and I want it to be clearly understood that today I on behalf of my community, am pledging our allegiance once more to the Flag.
To me it seems significant that some of the workers very closely associated with the Congress are Indian Christians and I am sure my friends will bear testimony to the fact that we too have produced leaders who have fully identified themselves with Indian Nationalism. We owe our allegiance to the Flag, not only because we are Indian Christians, but because we have been always well treated in the past by the Indian National Congress. In fact it would be no exaggeration to suggest that we have been better treated by the Indian National Congress than by those with whom we are affiliated from the standpoint of religion. I take this opportunity of reminding the Hon’ble Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of an occasion which happened in 1938 when I had been called to the Punjab by Dr. S. K. Dutta to do a little service in connection with a function at the Forman Christian College. At that time the University Union at Allahabad had arranged for an address by me on Prohibition and they insisted that I should speak on this subject because shortly before that I had visited Salem in Madras through the kind offices of Rajaji. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru] had agreed to preside over the function, but had forgotten the subject on which I was expected to speak. At his request, first of all I explained my ideas about the duties of minorities when asked by him to put before the audience our views regarding the minority question. He was to have left for Delhi within half an hour, but he forgot everything about it and in consequence missed the train. After I had spoken, Pandit Nehru told me that what the community had stood for would be remembered by the Indian National Congress when it came to power. Within three or four days I received reports of a certain case of injustice suffered by Indian Christians in some villages. I went to the villages and found out that the charges were true. I placed before Pandit Nehru the information which I gathered and in seven days’ time the whole matter was settled. In that way our religious liberties were restored.
May I in this connection mention another occasion when we received prompt help from the Congress? When I was in Madras, the Principal of the Physical Education College atSaidapet, Dr. Beck, told me that he had immense difficulties in getting land for the Madras College of Physical Education. As soon as Rajaji came to power he granted us even more land than we had wanted within a short time. These are the services that we have received from the Congress. This not only because we are in sympathy with the objectives of the Congress but also because of good treatment we have identified ourselves with the Congress. Once more I, repeat that the Indian Christians owe allegiance to the National Flag.
Mr. President, Sir, the Honourable Mover of this motion Pandit Nehru, said that he felt it a proud privilege to move this Motion and present this Flag to this House. Sir, it is not the proud privilege of only Hon’ble Pandit Nehru today, but it is the proud privilege of the whole Nation to see this Flag round which the people have struggled hard to win freedom has become an accomplished fact, that the National Flag hereafter shall be an officially recognised Flag. While our young and old men and women and children hoisted this Flag on private houses and public buildings, the British bureaucracy in India pulled it down and trampled it under their feet. Notwithstanding that, our countrymen took up, that very Flag and hoisted it on the very building from which it had been pulled down. While doing so they strictly followed the doctrine given to us by Mahatma Gandhi to carry on the struggle in a non-violent way. Mahatma Gandhi enjoined upon us to be non-violent in word, thought and deed. I must admit, Sir, while it has not been possible to follow non-violence in word and thought, I along, with millions of Indians have strictly followed the principle of nonviolence while fighting the battle against the British bureaucracy in India. Through that non-violent struggle we have been able to achieve our cherished goal today. On the Flag problem, a popular slogan went round, ”Up, up with the National Flag; down, down with the Union Jack”. We do not mean disrespect to any Nation’s Flag, but we considered the hoisting of the British Flag here, a symbol of slavery. On 15th August this Flag which has been presented to us today will be hoisted on this August Assembly, on the great magnificent Secretariat Buildings and I may also say, Sir, on the Viceregal Lodge. (Cheers). And the Union Jack will be respectfully, slowly and solemnly brought down. Undoubtedly, on that day, the National Flag will be hoisted all over India and it will be saluted by everyone.
Sir, the first National Flag, I should say the Swaraj Flag, was hoisted in 1911 at the Indian National Congress Session held at Calcutta by that great President, by that great congressman, by that great Indian Patriot who was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress and, may I say, the prime mover for the formation of the Congress, the late Dadabhai Naoroji. That flag I have seen in the picture I have got it in my house. It is not the same Flag as we see here today. I now remember what that great leader said on the occasion of hoisting that Flag in Calcutta in 1911.
I did not want to interrupt the speaker. But he is mistaken in regard to the year. It was 1906 and not 1911.
Thank you, Sir. While hoisting the Flag he said: ‘I present this Flag. Under this Flag we should fight our battles.‘ Sir, this Flag has since changed in design and now it has been officially recognised as the Flag of the Nation. We shall all salute it. It will remain firmly and solidly till eternity wherever it is flown.
Mr. President as I listened to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, I thought no speech would be necessary, but since various groups in this House have severally tried to acknowledge their acceptance of and allegiance to the Flag which we are going to adopt as the National Flag of this country. I thought I would also say a few words on behalf of the 30 million Adivasis, the real owners of this country, the original sons of the soil, the most ancient aristocracy of India, who have been fighting for freedom for the last six thousand years. On behalf of these my people, I have great pleasure in acknowledging this Flag as the Flag of our country in future. Sir, most of the members of this House are inclined to think that flag hoisting is the privilege of the Aryan civilised. Sir, the Adivasis had been the first to hoist flags and to fight for their flags. Members who come from the so-called province of Bihar, will support me when I say that, year after year, in the melas, jatras and festivals in Chota Nagpur, whenever various tribes with their flags enter the arena, each tribe must come into jatra by a definite route by only one route and no other tribe may enter the mela by the same route. Each village has its own flag and that flag cannot be copied by any other tribe. If any one dared challenge that flag, Sir, I can assure you that that particular tribe would shed its last drop of blood in defending the honour of that flag. Hereafter, there will be two Flags, one Flag which has been here for the past six thousand years, and the other will be this National Flag which is the symbol of our freedom as PanditJawaharlal Nehru has put it. This National Flag will give a new message to the Adivasis of India that their struggle for freedom for the last six thousand years is at last over, that they will now be as free as any other in this country. I have great pleasure, Sir, in accepting and acknowledging on behalf of the Adivasis of India the Flag that has been presented to us byPandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Mr. President, Sir, as listened to the very eloquent speech of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in introducing and commending this Flag, I thought that it was a sufficient seal to the solemnity of the occasion. But since the understandable feelings and enthusiasms of members have led to the making of several speeches, I felt that I should say a few words. I had the privilege of serving in the Committee which finalised the form and shape of this Flag. It was made clear there that this Flag did not contain any communal motives or significance. While we have retained essentially the banner under which the fight for India’s freedom was fought and brought to consummation, the Flag as hoisted today has certain qualities and motives which should be cherished by every nation that treads the path of progress and freedom. I believe sincerely that this is really a beautiful Flag in its physical aspect and also in its motives. Today this Flag is the Flag of the Nation. It is not the Flag of any particular community, it is the Flag of all Indians. I believe that while this is a symbol of our past it inspires us for the future. This Flag flies today as the Flag of the Nation, it should be the duty and privilege of every Indian not only to cherish and and live under it but if necessary, to die for it.
*[Mr. President, I feel that after the speech of such great men as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sir Radhakrishnan, who have so brilliantly interpreted the colours of the flag I need not say much. I have stood up only with the idea of associating myself with those sentiments. The sacrifices made for this flag and in the cause of the country’s freedom have been pathetically narrated by Pandit Nehru in his own inimitable style. Under this Flag, my community mustered around the Indian National Congress and contributed its utmost to those sacrifices, I think no one shall be happier than the Sikhs to see those sacrifices flowering and bearing fruit today. But there is one thing and that is unavoidable that flowers are never without thorns. At this hour of happiness, I feel that many of my brethren, who were one with us at the time of making sacrifices could not now be here with us to share our happiness. It may happen sometimes that a thorn is useful in heightening the beauty and charm of the flower. I am only trying to give vent to emotions which fill my heart at the thought as to how many sacrifices we had to make to see this flag up in the air. We have reached the position today that we can install our flag wherever we like, Now it is equally incumbent upon us to maintain the dignity of this fluttering Flag. Perhaps at times we may have to make the same sacrifices to keep it aloft as we have had to achieve it. Therefore, I promise on behalf of my Sikh community that they shall continue to make sacrifices for upholding the honour and dignity of the flag with the samevigour, daring and fearlessness, as they have shown in the cause of the country’s freedom. With these words, I support the Resolution moved by Panditji.]*
*[Mr. President, I support the Resolution on this flag as moved by the Honourable Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. You know what great Sacrifices have been made by us to maintain the honour of this Flag in this country; and how many sacrificed their lives got their children trampled were killed and destroyed. The British Empire used all their power to destroy this Flag, but we the inhabitants of this country always cherished and adored it This Flag, under which we find Free India and which we wish to hoist, over Free India, is the Same Flag which even today gives us strength to free ourselves.
This Flag has three colours. One is saffron which is related to our own community. I belong to the depressed classes and I Wish to remind you that where Shivaji was in power and when a chance of freeing this Country and establishing a Hindu Raj arose our community sacrificed lacs of persons under this saffron banner. For example, the Iron Pillar of SidhanathMahar in Koragaon reminds us of that age even today.
Here is the Flag. It has three colours. The first one is related to my community. The second colour which is white denotes peace and tranquillity and indicates unity amongst all the communities in this country and for this reason this Flag represents every religion and every language in the country. As the President of the All India Depressed Classes Union, I wish to give this assurance before the House that my community shall always follow the Flag which we are adopting today. With these words, I support the Resolution on the Flag on behalf of my own self and community as a whole. If the honour of the Flag, maintained by us even up to this day is a besmirched any time, my Community along with other inhabitants of the country will sacrifice themselves to save the honour of the Flag. With these words I beg to support the Resolution.]*
*[Mr. President, Sir, when my leader Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has expressed such lofty sentiments today on this occasion, I myself thought no speech should be delivered after that. But the conventions prevailed and members of every group have expressed their ideas, here. On the suggestion of my elders, I also submitted my name to the President and wish to express myself briefly before you today.
This day, the day of moving this resolution by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, is a day of congratulations our country and its history. When I was listening to the speech of Pandit Nehru, I felt as we had finished one part of our Journey and were beginning the next. Now, when the first part of our journey comes to a close, we feel obliged to look back. In the history of the last twenty years, a great man, born amongst us, has so melodiously and artistically harmonized our life that it would be ingratitude on our part, it we do not bow to him. It is not possible to enumerate in this short time, what Mahatma Gandhi has given us and contributed towards our national life and what is being given by him to us even now. But if you take a little trouble and go back to the circumstances prevailing 27 and 28 years ago, you will find what great progress has been made, in our country through the efforts of the world’s greatest leader. There was a time when Congress was merely passing resolutions and assembling for three days during Christmas and it considered that its duty ended there. When Mahatma Gandhi said that we would not get independence by passing resolutions, and that strength was necessary to obtain rights, the nation looked at him inbewilderment and thought the he had gone mad. The message of gaining strength for a nation without arms appeared to be a mad idea in the history of the world. The world thought of only one way as means of attaining national rights and that was the way of violence. Should we not remember today that development of mass consciousness in the country, which was carried out by Mahatma Gandhi by non-violent methods? It appealed to the people and they organised. I think that it was the greatest gift of Mahatma Gandhi that he changed a mere resolution-passing Congress into a fighting body. His second great gift to our country was that the Congress which worked only for three days (in a year) was changed into a permanent organisation. His third great gift is of a national language. We used to express ourselves in a foreign language. Mahatma Gandhi by offering us Hindi as a National language, gave us a chance to feel and awaken our national sentiments. One of those boons is that of the Flag which has been offered by him to this country. Thus centralising the collective strength of our country in the form of this flag, he inspired us to proceed and march on the way to sacrifice. Today, on behalf of all of us, I offer my homage at the feet of this great man.
When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was addressing us, I looked at him and felt what had been done by this great man to our country. How much idealism have we attained through him and how much sense of service and devotion have we imbibed through him? On behalf of you all, I offer my respects to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatmaji. When I was listening to his speech, I felt that one part of the journey is coming to an end. An idea crept in my mind that now we have to see what next we have to do. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru interprets the Chakra in the centre of our National Flag as an indication of movement. It reminds me of the old message which I had read in Brihadaranyaka Upanished “Remaining asleep is Kaliyug, opening of eyes is Dwapar getting up is Treta and moving about is Satyayug“. Today Pandit Jawaharlal after giving us the message of motion in the form of this chakra, is once again taking us to Satyayug. Upanishad writers say: “Charaiveti, Charaivet” Bhagwan Buddha himself has said “Charaiveti Khihave Charaiveti“. “Go on, endeavouring continually, go on again and again, there is no place for rest.” On behalf of the congressmen today, may I give this assurance to our leader Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru “Dear Captain! Under your leadership we shall try to follow you with all our strength.“
Today on this occasion I salute the National Flag and pray to God that a new era may dawn upon this country, a new earth and a new sky may be formed in this country which may be able to give a message of eternal peace to the entire human world from under this Flag.]*
*[Mr. President, Sir, when I came here today I had not the slightest idea that we would speak anything about this Flag. But when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the beloved leader of the country, made his speech, a wave of joy enthusiasm arose in our hearts and we felt a desire to pay our tribute to the National Flag on this solemn and auspicious occasion. Thus, Sir, I also sought your permission to speak a few words.
The importance of a national flag does not depend on its colour, its bands or its other parts. The flag as a whole, is important and other things–the colours etc., that it contains–are immaterial. The flag may be of a piece of white cloth of any other insignificant material but when it is accepted as a National Flag, it becomes the emblem of national self-respect. It becomes an expression of the sense of freedom a nation. It becomes its dearest object. For the last 27 years this tricolour flag has been uppermost in our thoughts and imagination. We have made numerous sacrifices for the freedom of India with this flag in our hands. As I have already stated, when a flag or any other thing is accepted by a nation as its ensign, it becomes the dearest object of the nation and assumes the most important and the highest place in the life and history of that nation. This, our Flag, has been the symbol of the hopes and dreams of our hundred million souls for the last 27 years. For the honour of this flag millions holding it dearer than their lives, suffered tremendously. Numberless people went to jails leaving their children starving. People had their heads and bones broken by the lathis of police and the military to keep it aloft. Unarmed youngmen and students of the country opened their chests before the bullets of the English military or police to protect the honour of his flag. For generations it has been our flag and the great feeling, emotion and enthusiasm we have in our hearts for this flag is beyond human description. We are eager to pay our tribute to this flag.
Sir, this flag for which great sacrifices have been made and about which there are many ‘gathas’ of patriotism, heroism and sacrifices, has become the centre of our thoughts. There are various opinions today in our country about this flag. Many members have given notices of various resolutions about this flag. I know every mover has his own individual and important reasons for moving his resolution. If their suggestions are not accepted here, it does not mean that we do not appreciate the thoughts of any particular individual or section. We do not entertain the idea that because some differences of opinion exist regarding this flag, anybody forfeits his claim to it. On the contrary, we hold that he has similar claims to it as we have. I would like to address a few words to those who have opposed the adoption of this flag, or have moved amendments for effecting some change in it. I would like to address a few words to the Hindu members who have approved of the flag. There maybe some ground for their complaint but it should not be forgotten that this flag has been the emblem of our highest hopes and noblest emotions for 27 years. It has been the advocate, after 27 years’ struggle and sacrifices presenting before the House some other flag for adoption? The struggle for independence started by the Congress was not on behalf of any particular community or section. Under this flag, the Congress and the khilafat, the Hindus and the Muslims together infused the fire of enthusiasm in the people of this country; and the Sikh community has made countless sacrifices. Every community in India has shed its blood and has sacrificed its all. This flag does not belong to any particular community. It belongs to us all as a whole. The characteristic feature of the flag is this, that though it belongs to the whole of India, every individual, whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian can claim it as his own, be happy over it and have respect for it.
The green portion in the flag may be taken to represent our Muslim friends the white one the Christians and other communities and the saffron the Sikhs. Every community is represented in the flag. But it does not mean that these colours merely represent these communities and they have no other significance. There may be other interpretations also of these colours. They represent the Hindus as well. As I have said the characteristic feature of the flag provides ample scope for everyone to think it as his own. In the Vedas “Rta” has not been defined but It is all embracing and has been extolled by poets and bards. But no one can identify it with any particular object.
Similarly the great poets have expressed many good ideas in beautiful words about the various virtues of mankind, e.g., truth, beauty, duty, benevolence, kindness and filial devotion. All write on the same subject but in their own way. On the same virtue, one writes something and another some other thing. They express different ideas and different emotions in different ways. Similarly in the case of this flag, everyone can sing a chorus in praise of the flag according to his own sentiments. Every community can think of this flag as its own. Some people have complained in the press that there should be predominance of Hindu colours in the flag and that the present flag should be changed. They ask if along with other communities, have the Hindus not shed their blood and sacrificed their kin for this flag? How can we forget the call of those Hindu martyrs through whose sufferings and sacrifices, these disgruntled (Hindus) have had the chance to see the dawn of independence? Will It not be sheer ingratitude to them on our part? With due respect, I would like to tell even the most orthodox Hindus that this flag amply represents the Hindu sentiments. This flag is the true expression of the sentiments of the Hindus and Hinduism. The Vedas say that the colourof a flag should be red. Therefore according to the Vedas the flag of the Hindus should be red. Besides this, let us interpret it in a different way. The red colour at the top represents fire and the sun. The white represents the moon. Now according to the Hindu mythology, the first thing that the Creator (Brahma) did was to create the sun and the moon. The Hindus, the Aryans–have since their very beginning been worshiping the Sun, Fire and the Moon. The sun and the Moon are worshipful deities. This flag represents these vary gods–the fire the sun and the moon. The green colour at the bottom, as I have said, should be taken by our Muslim friends to represent them. But at the same time, this colour in a way represents the Hindus as well. You know of all the nine planets Budha is supposed to be the most important. This green colour represents the Budha. This very Budha according to the Hindu mythology,is the god of wealth. The green colour of Budha is the emblem of prosperity and happiness of society. That colour is given in the flag. What better flag can the Hindus adopt for themselves, than the present one which represents the Fire, the Sun, the Moon and Budha? Apart from this, there is a ‘Chakra’ wheel in the centre of the flag. This is very significant. The Hindus attach great importance to ‘avatars’. ‘When there is too much of vice, suffering and disturbance on the earth, according to the Hindu mythology, some Divine Being comes on the stage to establish order and guide the world to the path of virtue. This Divine Being is known as our Avatar. Lord Krishna was the incarnation of God. So also was Lord Buddha. “Sudarshan Chakra” was the divine weapon of Lord Krishna. Every Hindu knows of ‘Sudarshan Chakra.’ That “chakra” or wheel embodied in the flag. Hindus consider Lord Buddha as an Avatar and the Chakra on the flag represents Lord Buddha as well. And, if the Hindu beliefs are correct the final incarnation or divine being as already appeared on the earth to rid humanity of the present terrible turmoil and vices, and to re-establish peace, justice and order in the world. That Divine Being is amongst us. It is Mahatma Gandhi. We may not acknowledge him today, as such, but after some time, the Hindus will consider him as the latest Avatar. His dear charkha is embodied on the flag. So I can say that everyone has got a pleasing feature in the lag and particularly the Hindus. As I have explained, every part of the flag is consistent with the religious sentiment of the Hindus. Therefore, far from opposing it, Hindus should adore it and should be prepared to sacrifice their all to protect its honour. I am fully satisfied with the flag, but as, some people wanted some addition and alteration in it. I thought it advisable to satisfy them without making any change in the flag and for this I have made an attempt I would like to assure them that due consideration was given to their proposals and feelings but finally it was decided that the flag under which the whole country, including those who are opposing it today; fought for freedom, should be adopted as the national flag. After the change that has been made in the flag, no Hindu should have any ground for any dissatisfaction.
Sir, it is our country that has always guided the world. It has brought the World from darkness to light. As in the past, this country has fortunately for the world produced the greatest man of the time, who amidst all the crowding miseries of mankind and under the shadow, of the dark clouds of the third world war, preceded by two great wars that destroyed the world, is still standing solid like a rock and a beacon for the world. He is proclaiming that madness should be given up. If the world follows him, there would be Peace and Prosperity. This flag bears the dear emblem of Mahatma Gandhi.
I pray to God to bestow on us the strength and the wisdom to lead ourselves and the whole world to its desired destination. It is India and he alone that can guide the world to its goal. it is India alone that can be expected to do good to the world.]*
I want to speak a few words. My name is not on the list but I will not exceed two or three minutes. Have I your permission?
No I have got more than 25 names on the list.
I hope I will have your permission afterwards.
I would request the speakers now to shorten their speeches as we have got only forty minutes more, so that I may be able to give an opportunity to as many speakers as may wish to speak. I suggest two minutes for each speaker.
Mr. President I give you, Sir and the House a guarantee that I am not going to exceed more than 2 or 3 minutes. I stand here at this Assembly rostrum first as an Indian and then only as an Indian Christian (Hear, hear) because Sir, on this day when the National Flag has been introduced and planted there is jubilation and joy all over the Nation, first in every Indian Home and along with that in the home of every Indian Christian. Sir, the mover of this Resolution, the great Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, has in an eloquent and brilliant manner told us how this Flag, represents, in the first place the brilliant and great traditions of the past and equally brilliant historic conditions of the past. Then Sir, he went on to tell us what it represents at present. At present he told us it represents the ups and downs that have occurred in the progress towards freedom and above all, he told us that it represents the triumphant conclusion of our fight for freedom. Sir, it is only meet and proper that the mover of this Resolution should the great PanditJawaharlal Nehru and why? Because of his great personality. Sir, what do I mean by his great personality? If I am to express it as briefly as I can and at the same time give it all the significance, I can, it is this. His personality, Sir, is based on all sacrificing and all selfless character, and because it is all sacrificing and all selfless, it is all-pervading, all permeating and all-conquering. I need not say a word more on this. It is not necessary because the whole of India, nay, Sir, the world knows how this great son of mother India has immolated himself on the high altar of the Indian Nation Sir, I think my time is coming to a close. I shall express my heartfelt desire for the progress of India under the aegis of the Flag that has been accepted today, by a small Latin quotation: “Vivat, Crescat, floreat India“which rendered in English means–May India under the aegis of this Flag live, grow and flourish, to the lasting advantage and glory not only of teeming millions of citizens of India but may I add, Sir, to the lasting glory and advantage of the world at large. This Sir. is the prayer of this humble Indian Christian. (Cheers.)
*[Sir, I need not say much in praise of the National Flag. I want to associate myself on behalf of the politically backward people of the States, with the chorus of tribute paid to the flag. Under this flag not only the people of the provinces but the States people too have fought for freedom, economic and social, and for liberation from foreign yoke. Our struggle in the State has been associated with this flag and with the mover of the Resolution relating to The flag, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Without his guidance the movement of the States people and their progress would not have attained the momentum it has. Today Pandit Nehru’s name is associated with the flag. Our feelings and sentiments are the same a, those of Pandit Nehru. Previously there was a Charkha on the flag and now a Chakra has been substituted for it. This Charkha is the symbol of activity. Under the Charkha flag the people of ten provinces have already attained freedom but the people of the States have yet to attain it in certain respects. I mean we have to attain responsible government in States. We do not mean to remove our ruling princes but we want to have full responsible government under them. There is no doubt that we will attain our objective under this flag. This is our national flag. It belongs to all the communities of India–Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Parsis. Let it fly everywhere in India and on the Viceregal Lodge, on the hamlets of the peasants and on the palaces of the princes. With these sentiment, I pay my homage to the Flag.]*
Mr. President, Sir, I rise to support the Resolution before the House, moved by our revered leader Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Sir, this is the Flag under which we have during the last sixty years marched on and have at last reached victory. We are proud of this Flag. In it there are three colours and these three colours represent the three communities in our Country who are united into one. The Flag denotes also what the country desires. We do not desire to capture other countries, we do not want to be imperialistic, we do not want to see other countries bowing to us. All that we want is that our Flag should fly all over the world as the Flag symbolising peace, progress and prosperity. That is the aim of our country.
Mahatma Gandhi was kind enough to introduce in the Flag the emblem of the poor man–the industry by which the poor man ekes out a livelihood–the Charkha. Sir, I come from theHarijan Community which depends very much on spinning and Mahatma Gandhi has rightly put the Charkha on the Flag. Pandit Nehru was kind enough to say that this emblem should be on the other side also, if it is nut on one side. But the Chakra represents not only the Charkha but it happily represents the progress of the country and it represents the rising Sun, the rising Sun of the independence of our country. We have been living for two hundred years in slavery, and now we are at last seeing the Sun of independence rising in our country.
This Chakra represents also the great Vishnu Chakra–the wheel of the world that was able to take the whole world to peace, progress and prosperity.
Sir, it is very easy to have a Flag, to hoist the Flag and see it fly over buildings. But every man must know how to keep the honour of the Flag. Then man who keeps the honour of the Flag keeps the honour of the whole Nation. The higher the Flag flies, the greater is the honour of the Nation.
Hitherto, this Flag was called the Congress Flag. Now it cannot be called the Congress Flag, it will be called the Indian National Flag. Everyone, whether he be a Muslim, Hindu or Christian, will own this Flag. He has to defend it and stake even his life, if need be then alone will the honour of our country be high in the eves of the world.
Sir, I wholeheartedly support the Resolution that has been so ably, wonderfully, and may I add, magically moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Flag that has been presented to us reminds me of my own place in Orissa. There is the temple of Jagnnath in Orissa over which for over a thousand years the Eternal Wheel called the Neela Chakra has been standing; and with it is associated the Flag called “Patita Pavan Vana“, that is, the flag which represents the poor people, the untouchables. I wish that on this occasion all our leaders would make an effort to throw open the temple of Jagannath to the so-called untouchables who are denied admission into it to-day.
This wheel on this Flag reminds me also of many associations connected with Kalinga and Magadha to which latter place you. Mr. President, belong. Asoka from Magadha went over to Kalinga and fought a great battle. After very heavy carnage, he was turned into a gentle being–the gentle Asoka; and it is there that the Kalingas in a way conquered Asoka. When I see this Flag here, associated with the name of Asoka and also with Buddha, I am reminded that our country Kalinga after a great battle taught a good lesson to Asoka non-violent one. There are two places in Orissa even today where the edicts of Asoka are standing, to tell the world that we must serve all countries and all humanity, irrespective of caste, creed,colour and so on. In fact, I feel that this Flag of ours is not only National, but it is in a way International because the wheel represents the wheel of eternity. Therefore, all of us, I say, even those of us who were not with the Congress till yesterday will respect this Flag. This is the Flag which has become entirely National, completely National today when the Resolution about this National Flag was moved so ably by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
When I see the three colours on this Flag, I am reminded also of the three images inside the temple of Jagannath. Lord Jagannath represents the blue colour, Balaram represents the white and Subhadra Devi represents the yellow colour, with Lord Jagannath and Balaram on either side of Subhadra Devi, in a way defending the Women folk. This symbol I worship because in a way it is the symbol of my country–the place from where I come to sit in this Constituent Assembly as a member.
I therefore, wholeheartedly support the Resolution so ably moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Mr. President, I thank you Sir, for giving me the opportunity to join in the chorus of the expression of happiness on this very auspicious occasion, when India, without distinction of religion or caste or creed, province or section accepts a National emblem that will represent her in the councils of the world. Sir, some of us who have seen public demonstrations and pageants in foreign countries, have felt humiliation at seeing our own great land, its vast peoples, its ancient heritage and culture and its incomparable beauty unrepresented in these pageants. And when these strangers looked at us we had to bow our head in humiliation knowing that in this Comity we had no independent representation. Sir, today this humiliation ends and if such a pageant should take place, the children of India who may be present there will share the pride with which other nations greet and honour the symbols of their country fluttering in the air and their hearts will rejoice as their Flag will rise in the breeze. That, Sir, is one aspect of it which, I think, will come home to all of us with peculiar satisfaction.
Better than most people, I take it that our people understand the meaning of symbolism, of ritualism the significance of the hoisting of this Flag, and all that it stands for. Such is our love of ritual, such is the imaginative wealth with which we surround symbols and signs. Ours is a very happy and singularly well-conceived symbol with its harmony of colour and with its unique idea of a circle in the centre into which such a wealth of meaning can be concentrated. Sir, I am sure many of those who were present will recall the historical occasion when this very noble building in which we have gathered was inaugurated. On that day the Viceroy of the day, Lord Irwin, referred to the circular construction of this building and alluding to one of the noblest of Christian English poets, quoted his lines that he had seen “eternity as a circle of white light.” Sir, this circle, this wheel, which represents so many things time and its revenges, industry and all its achievements–represents for us also eternity and the values of eternal life.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru referred to these spiritual values by which a nation lives and which should be represented by this Flag. Nothing could be more appropriate and admirable than this circle to represent those spiritual values. This is the symbol with which India will continue its fight. May I be permitted to say that India will continue its struggle also for peace, and that just as her soldiers will be encouraged and uplifted by the sight of this Flag in all righteous warfare against unjust enemies, so also this Flag will stand as a reminder of our love of peace. May it help us to go forward in all righteous work and see that all social wrongs are righted. Above all, in every case of fratricidal warfare, of strife among ourselves, when injustice is done, when tempers rise, when communal peace is broken up, may the sight of this Flag help to soften the harsh and discordant voices, and help us to stand together, as we have gathered today in unanimity, in happiness is brotherly feeling to salute this, our National Flag.
There are yet a number of speakers on the list but I had promised earlier that I will call Mrs. Naidu to make the final speech. So I request her to address the House.
Mr. President, the House knows that I had refused over and over again this morning to speak. I thought that the speech of Jawaharlal Nehru–so epic in its quality of beauty, dignity and appropriateness–was sufficient to express the aspirations, emotions and the ideals of this House. But I was happy when I saw the representatives of the various communities that constitute this House rise up and pledge their allegiance to this Flag. I was especially reminded by the people that sit behind me from the Province of Bihar that it was at the risk of my life and seat in their province, should I forget to mention that this Flag, so willingly and proudly accepted today by the House, has for its symbol the Dharma Chakra of Asoka, whom they claim (I do not know with what historical veracity) to be a Bihari! But if I am speaking here today, it is not on behalf of any community, or any creed or any sex, though women members of this House are very insistent that a woman should speak. I think that the time has come in the onward march of the world-civilisation when there should be no longer any sex consciousness or sex separation in the service of the country. I therefore speak on behalf of that ancient reborn Mother with her undivided heart and indivisible spirit, whose love is equal for all her children, no matter what corner they come from in what temples or mosques they worship, what language they speak or what culture they profess.
Many many times in the course of my long life, in my travels abroad–for I am vagabond by nature and by destiny–I have suffered the most terrible moments of anguish in free countries, because India possessed no flag. A few of those moments I would like to recall.
On the day when peace was signed at Versailles after the last war. I happened to be in Paris. There was great rejoicing everywhere and flags of all nations decorated the Opera House. There came on the platform a famous actress with a beautiful voice, for whom the proceedings were interrupted while she wrapped round herself the flag of France. The entire audience rose as one man and sang with her the National Anthem of France–the Marseillaise. An Indian near me with tears in his eyes turned to me and said “When shall we have our own Flag?” “The time will soon come,” I answered, “When we shall have our own Flag and our own Anthem.”
I was asked to speak at a peace celebration in New York soon after the peace had been signed. Forty-four Nations and their Flags fluttering in the great hall in which the Assembly met. I looked at the Flags of all the Nations and when I spoke I cried that though I did not see in that great Assembly of Free Nations the Flag of Free India, it would become the most historic Flag of the world in the not distant future.
It was also a moment of anguish for me when a few months later forty-two Nations sent their women to an International Conference in Berlin. There they were planning to have, one morning, a Flag parade of the Nations. India had no official flag. But at my suggestion some of the women Indian delegates tore strips from their saris sitting up till the small hours of the morning to make the Tri-colour flag, so that our country should not be humiliated for the lack of a National Banner.
But the worst anguish of all was only a few months ago, when on the inspiration of Jawaharlal Nehru the Nations of Asia met in Delhi and affirmed the unity of Asia. On the wall behind the platform there was the flag of every nation of Asia. Iran was there, China was there, Afghanistan was there as also Siam. Big countries and little countries were all represented but we had exercised a self-denying ordinance, so that we might scrupulously keep or pledge that no party politics would be permitted at the conference. Can you not understand and share with me the anguish of that decision which excluded the Tricolour the Congress Flag from the Asian Conference? But here today we retrieve that sorrow and that shame: we attain our own Flag, the Flag of Free India. Today we justify, we vindicate and we salute this Flag under which so many hundreds and thousands of us have fought and suffered. Men and women, old and young, princes and peasants, Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Zoroastrians, all of them have fought under this Flag. When my friendKhaliquazzaman was speaking, I saw before me the great patriots, my friends and comrades of the Muslim community who had suffered under this Flag. I thought of Mahomed Ali, ofShaukat Ali, of Ansari and of Ajmal Khan. I could mention the smallest community in India, the Parsi community, the community of that grand old man Dadabhai Naoroji, whose grand-daughters too fought side by side with the others, suffered imprisonment and made sacrifices for the freedom of India. I was asked by a man who was blind with prejudice: ‘How can you speak of this flag as the flag of India? India is divided.’ I told him that this is merely a temporary geographical separation. There is no spirit of separation in the heart of India. (Hear, hear). Today I ask one and all to honour this Flag. That wheel, what does it represent? It represents the Dharma Chakra of Asoka the Magnificent who sent his message of peace and brotherhood all over the world. Did he not anticipate the modern ideal of fellowship and brotherhood and cooperation? Does not that wheel stand as a symbol for every national interest and national activity? Does it not represent the Chakra of my illustrations and beloved leader, Mahatma Gandhi and the wheel of time that marches and marches and marches without hesitation and without halt? Does it not represent the rays of the Sun? Does it not represent eternity? Does it not represent the human mind? Who shall live under that Flag without thinking of the common India? Who shall limit its functions? Who shall limit its inheritance? To whom does it belong? It belongs to India. It belongs to an India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru told us that India has never been exclusive. I wish he had added ‘India welcomes all knowledge from friend and foe alike’. Did she not? Have not all the cultures of the world contributed to the ocean of her culture? Has Islam not brought to India the ideals of democratic brotherhood, the Zorostrian his steadfast courage, who fled from Iran with a blazing log from their fire temple, whose flame has not perished these thousand years? Have not the Christians brought to us the lesson of service to the humblest of the land? Has not the immemorial Hindu creed taught us universal love of mankind and has it not taught us that we shall not judge merely by our own narrow standard but that we should judge by the universal standard of humanity?
Many of my friends have spoken of this Flag with the poetry of their own hearts. I as a poet and as a woman, I am speaking prose to you when I say that we women stand for the unity of India. Remember under this Flag there is no prince and there is no peasant, there is no rich and there is no poor. There is no privilege there is only duty and resibility and sacrifice. Whether we be Hindus or Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs or Zorostrians and others, our Mother India has one undivided heart and one indivisible spirit. Men and women ofreborn India rise and salute this Flag! I bid you, rise and salute the Flag. (Loud cheers).
I would ask Members to express their assent to the Resolution which has been placed before them and show their respect to the Flag by getting up and standing in their places for half a minute.
The motion was adopted, the whole Assembly standing.
I have to make one announcement before we adjourn. A question was put to me yesterday about the future programme. I have had consultations with some of the Members and with the staff of the Constituent Assembly. I am in a position to state that it is possible to complete the discussion of the Report of the Union Constitution Committee within this month and, if we do that, say by the 30th or 31st of this month, we might adjourn this session. We shall be required to be here again on the 15th of the next month when power will be actually transferred to the people’s representatives by the Representative of the British Government. When Members come here for that function I suggest that we might continue our sittings after the 15th August and take up the Report of the Union Powers Committee. If this is acceptable to the House (Hon’ble Members: ‘yes’) we may also have the Report of the Minorities Committee and we may hope to dispose of that also during the next session.
Mr. President, Sir, may I respectfully suggest that the two Flags which have been displayed this morning may be specially preserved and subsequently deposited in the National Museum (Applause.)
I accept that suggestion.
I request you on behalf of the House to convey our homage to Mahatma Gandhi and tell him that we are observing the day very magnificently.
I will do that with the greatest pleasure.
The Assembly then adjourned till Ten of the Clock, on Wednesday, the 23rd July 1947.
*[ ]* English translation of Hindustani speech.