Know About Pingali Venkayya, Forgotten Name Behind Indias National Flag Who Died In Poverty

Image Credits: Unsplash and Telugu Books

The Logical Indian Crew

Know About Pingali Venkayya, Forgotten Name Behind India's National Flag Who Died In Poverty

Remembering the revolutionary who visualised the national pride - the Indian tricolour, and designed it on a simple Khadi bunting for many to identify it with their country for the coming centuries. 

  • Whatsapp
  • Telegram
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • koo
  • Whatsapp
  • Telegram
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • koo
  • Whatsapp
  • Telegram
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • koo

Pingali Venkayya is an unforgettable image of the Indian Independence Movement and continues to be someone who has imprinted the idea of national pride in India. He is the man who designed the national flag, a symbol that speaks for our nationalistic emotions, and as Independence day nears, we revisit the contributions of this freedom fighter.

Born on August 2, 1878, to a Telugu Brahmin family in Andhra Pradesh, Pingali Venkayya was someone who grew up to be a man of many talents. During his lifetime, the staunch Gandhian believer worked as a teacher, author, agriculturist, linguist, and devoted party member. While we sing praises of this revolutionary today, many of his efforts went unnoticed during his time, and he passed away struggling to make ends meet.

The Idea Of Designing The National Flag

At 19, Venkayya enrolled in the British Indian Army and bravely fought the Boer War in South Africa. During the war, watching the soldiers salute the Union Jack made Venkayya realise that his motherland had no such symbol with which they would identify their country. From here began the idea to design a flag for Indians and India. It was also in this foreign country that Venkayya got acquainted with Mahatma Gandhi for the first time.

Tracing his ideologies, Venkayya attended the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session held in 1906 in Calcutta. He expressed his idea to design a national flag to the committee as he was firmly against hoisting the Union Jack at Congress meetings. He made over 25 drafts of flag designs, all attached with a specific significance to India's rich culture and history. Finally, when Gandhi asked Venkayya to submit a design for the flag at the AICC session held at Bezwada, he designed one on a Khadi bunting within three hours.

It was a simple flag with two colour bands - red and green, to symbolise the majoritarian communities in India, Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi tweaked the final draft by adding a white band in the middle to represent peace and harmony between the communities and a chakra in the centre to represent the progress and self-reliance of the nation. This became the flag used at all congress meetings. It became the official identity of the Congress party on July 22, 1947, twenty days before India gained its independence.

On August 15, 1947, when India got its Independence, the tricolour became the national flag with minor changes of saffron replacing the red and a 24-spoked navy blue Ashoka Chakra replacing the spinning wheel in the centre.

Apart from his published book 'Bharatha Deshaniki Oka Jatiya Patakam' (National flag of India) in 1916, Venkayya never took much of the credit or cashed out on his creation. The flag he designed is one of the iconic symbols used for identifying the country, yet the man behind it all chose to remain in the shadows working for the country.

Venkayya died in 1963, and at the time, he was said to be penniless and neck-deep in poverty. Economic Times noted how the revolutionary who created the national pride for Indians struggled to make ends meet. The only thing he had left behind was a humble hut in Chittinagar that was built on the land he was awarded for his army service.

Life Beyond Being A Freedom Fighter

Venkayya held a diploma in Geology from the prestigious Madras Presidency College. Imparting his knowledge to others, he worked as a lecturer at the Andhra National College in Machilipatnam from 1911 to 1944. For over two decades during this period, he also researched mica in Nellore and authored the book 'Thalli Raayi', based on geology.

Due to his many contributions in the field, he was known by many names such as 'Diamond Venkayya' (for being an expert in diamond mining) and 'Patti Venkayya' (for his dedicated research on staple varieties of cotton and his study on a variety called Cambodia Cotton).

He was known by yet another interesting nickname - Japan Venkayya, due to his proficiency in the language. Venkayya was a polyglot who was fluent in the languages of Japanese and Urdu apart from several Indian languages and had once delivered a full-length speech in Japanese at a school in Bapatla, Andhra Pradesh.

With the many names and many achievements he earned in one lifetime, Venkayya left behind an imprint that Indians would continue to associate with for centuries to come.

Also Read: Aruna Asaf Ali: Revisiting The Unsung Legacy Of 'Heroine Of 1942' In India's Independence Movement

Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
,
Editor : Shiva Chaudhary
,
Creatives : Laxmi Mohan Kumar