Tiranga, the tricolour or the India’s national flag as one might call it is a symbol of liberation and independence. Swooshing high and mighty as the nations’ pride breaking free from the British colonial rule for more than a century, the national flag demands for salutation and importance. On India’s 73rd Independence Day we remember Pingali Venkayya, the Indian freedom fighter from 2 August 1876 – 4 July 1963 who gave us this ‘symbolic’ importance.
Born in Bhatlapenumarru, near Machilipatnam, in what is now the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Pingali joined the British Army at the mere age of 19 from where on he met the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, which will last for more than 50 years. A man beyond his time, Pingali was a man with vision and was also a linguist, geolist and a writer. The Hindu also reports that Venkayya was a man with authority in geology, agriculture and also an educationist who set up an educational institution in Machilipatnam. In fact, in 1913, he delivered a full-length speech in Japanese earning him titles like 'Japan Venkayya', 'Patti (cotton) Venkayya' and 'Jhanda Venkayya'.
An ardent freedom fighter that saw the importance of giving liberation a symbol, in 1916 offering he published a book feathering thirty designs of what could make up for the Indian flag.
In 1921 after relentlessly putting forward the idea, Venkayya's design for the National Flag was finally approved by Mahatama Gandhi in a Congress meeting in Vijayawada in 1921.
"Pingali Venkaiah who is working in Andhra National College Machilipatnam, has published a book, describing the flags of the countries and has designed many models for our own National Flag. I appreciate his hard struggle during the sessions of Indian National Congress for the approval of Indian National Flag," Mahatama Gandhi had written in Young India.
He, however, died in poverty in 1963 and was largely forgotten by the society. A postage stamp was issued to commemorate him in 2009 and in 2011 it was proposed that he be posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna.
But, lest we forget, behind every ‘pride’ we see was a man who brought to life the horizontal tricolour in equal proportion of deep saffron at the top, white in the middle and green at the bottom- Pingali Venkayya.