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Pingali Venkayya, born in 1876, was an Indian freedom fighter who the nation remembers proudly for reasons more than his struggle for our independence.
It was his design on which India's national flag was based upon.
Pingali Venkayya was a fervant freedom fighter and the designer of the Indian National Tricolour who went on to become synonymous with the spirit of free and independent India.
Born on August 2, 1876 in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, Venkayya served as a soldier in the British Army in South Africa during the Anglo Boer war in Africa. A firm believer in Gandhian principles and an ardent nationalist, Venkayya met the Mahatma during the war. He was 19 when the meeting took place and formed an association which would last for more than 50 years.
He was also a linguist, geolist and a writer. In fact, in 1913, he delivered a full-length speech in Japanese. Such credentials gave him interesting titles like 'Japan Venkayya', 'Patti (cotton) Venkayya' and 'Jhanda Venkayya'.
After his return from Africa, Venkayya spent most of his time researching about farming and cultivating cotton. He even went on to study Sanskrit, Urdu and Japanese in the Anglo Vedic School in Lahore.
Designed the National Flag of India
It was during his stint with the British Army that the 19-year-old met Mahatama Gandhi in Africa. Venkayya's association with Mahatama Gandhi lasted over 50 years. Between 1918 and 1921, Venkayya raised the issue of having an own flag in every session of the Congress. Back then, he was working as a lecturer in the Andhra National College in Machilipatnam.
He also published a book in 1916 offering thirty designs of what could make the Indian flag. Throughout all Congress sessions between 1918 and 1921, he relentlessly put forward the idea of having a flag of our own. He met the Mahatma once again in Vijayawada and showed him his publication with the various designs of the flag. Acknowledging the need for a national flag, Gandhi then asked Venkayya to design a fresh one at the national 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.
Initially, Venkayya came up with saffron and green colours, but it later evolved with a spinning wheel at the centre and a third colour-white. The flag was officially adopted by the Indian National Congress in 1931.
A postage stamp was issued to commemorate him in 2009.