In the 1921 session of the Indian National Congress, Mahatma Gandhi proposed a flag. Designed by Pingali Venkayya from Machilipatnam, the flag had a spinning wheel in the centre. It represented Gandhiji’s dream of a self-reliant India. This came to be known as the Swaraj Flag. This flag was modified by addition of a white stripe in the centre which acted as a backdrop for the charkha as well as a symbol of other religious communities in the country. Saffron, white and green were chosen as the colours of the flag which had no sectarian association. Saffron symbolised courage and sacrifice while white stood for peace and truth and green colour represented faith and chivalry.
A special meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held a few days before Independence. Here, it was decided that the design of the National Flag should be agreeable to all parties and communities. To this effect the Swaraj Flag was modified. While the colours remained the same, the charkha was replaced by the Ashok Chakra or the wheel of law.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President and the second President of India, explained the significance that the colours and design of the adopted flag had for newly independent India. He said that saffron symbolised renunciation. For the leaders it implied dedication to work and duty irrespective of personal gains. White in the centre was symbolic of the truth which would guide the conduct of people while green represented India’s link with the soil. The Ashok Chakra was a symbol of truth and duty. These principles were a guide for those who would work under the flag. The chakra or the wheel also represented motion and progress. When translated in the Indian context, it meant that the country had to move forward and embrace change.