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Friday, December 30, 2016


National Flag of Tibet. A Priceless Gift From Sherap Gyatso of Lhadhan Chotrul Monlam Chenmo Trust, Tibetan Monastery. Sarnath.

 On 30 November 2016 I was presented a historic Tibetan Flag by Sherap Gyatso, purported to have been flown during the inauguration ceremony of the first Tibetan Monastery at Sarnath, Varanasi by the founder Gan Thupten Jungney (Gan Gose La), the most popular Tibetan Ranzen activist of his time, when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama paid a visit to India to attend the 2500th Buddhist Jayanti Celebration in 1956.
14th Dalai Lama
The Snow Lion Tibetan Flag (Gangs Seng Dar Cha) was adopted by Thubten Gyatso - the 13th Dalai Lama  in 1916.
The region of Tibet maintained its autonomy until 1951 when, following the Battle of Chamdo, Tibet became incorporated into the People's Republic of China, and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising.
China has made possessing the Tibetan flag illegal in Tibet since 1959. (Wikepedia).
 However the Tibetan Flag is widely in use by the Tibetan people seeking freedom from Chinese Rule. The Flag is also used by the Tibetan Government in Exile, based in Dharamsala, India and at all other Tibetan Monasteries. A Cinderella stamp issued to commemorate the centenary of the UPU in 1974.

  In a letter written to me in 1983, Guru Tharchen of the Tibetan Refugee Centre, Darjeeling narrated the symbolisms of the Flag as follows;
 The Snow Mountain: Symbolise the geographical feature of Tibet surrounded by lofty Himalayas. 
The Pair of Lions: the twin system of the Temporal and Spiritual power.
 The Wishing Gem: in the paws of the lions the rule of law based on the Law-principal of cause and effect underlying the Ten Golden Precept and the Sixteen Human-principals, which are the source of infinite benefit and peace. 
The Flaming Jewel: over the wishing gem,devotion of the Three Gems (Triratna) who are endowed with twenty four transcendental attributes. 
Two Flags in Red & Blue: unfailing support of the two guardian deities known as MAR NAG NYIE. 
The Twelve Stripes in Red & Blue: the twelve descendant of the six originals of Tibet.
 The Rising Sun: freedom, happiness and prosperity of the ideals of Buddhism.
The Five Coloured Banner: on the top of the mast, the victory of Golden Phodrang, the Central Government of Tibet, over all the spheres.
The Double Edged Sword: the Vajra and the Lotus, on top of the banner , the incessant appearance of the incarnations of the three of the three Budhisattavas: Avalokitesvara, Monjushri and Vajrapani.
The Un-bended and Un-ending Mast:  the justice of the law without fear or favour.
The Knot of the White Ribbon: the noble tradition of the Dharma.

 However, we have also a simplified version of the Symbolism of the flag.
1. The white snow mountain in the center depicts the land of the: great nation of Tibet.
2. The six Red rays emanating from the sun - the six original people of Tibet: the Se,Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru, and Ra.
3. The blue rays- the commitment to spiritual and secular rule.
4, The pair of snow-lions: the complete victory of the spiritual and secular government
5. The three sided yellow border: the flourishing of the Buddha's teachings. the fly-side without border :Tibet's openness to non-Buddhist thought
6. The raised jewel :Tibet's reverence for the three Precious Gems: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Vandalism of the World War-2 photograph of the US victory in the Battle of Iwo Jima

 It seems our Government officials will never learn. Chief Elections Commissioner, Puducherry in association with Dept of Posts issued a subsidised Meghdoot Post Card with the morphed photograph of the Indian flag on the famous photograph of World War II US flag raising at Iwo Jima.
The iconic photograph was taken on February 23, 1945 by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts United States Marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi, during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

The photograph became extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and quite possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.[Wikipedia].

Over the time this iconic photograph also became the victim of most "MORPHED PHOTOGRAPH" in several countries including India. Little they realize that this kind of PHOTOSHOP tricks do not really help glorify their own patriotic farvour.


 The Goan newspapers of 19 December 2011 carried several advertisements on the great occasion of celebrating the golden jubilee which turned out to be a sheer nonsense , it was found the image selected by the Goan Government agencies is a FAKE one.

The advertisement showed Marines holding high the Indian tricolor in an act of triumph.  If you think the newspaper ad. was to glorify and well up patriotism,  you are terribly wrong . In fact the  advertisements should be considered as an affront to our dignity.
In the recent past the same art work  made by some braindeads in the government agencies had revealed how an immortal photograph that  came to symbolize the courage and indomitable will of American people in World War II in the Pacific had been unashamedly vandalized. Even the 'Fake art work' was published  by the Defence Research and Development Organisation  (DRDO - an agency under the Ministry of Defence, Government of India)
  It seems Government Departments just won’t learn.
 Heroes of the War in the Pacific
 The US stamp was issued just five months after the Flag-Raising atop Mt. Suribachi in Iwo Jima. On the day of issue, people stood patiently in lines stretching for city blocks on a sweltering July day in 1945 for a chance to buy the beloved stamp. For many years, this was the biggest selling stamp in the history of the US Post Office. (Over 137 million sold.)
 A retouched copy of the original photograph. Issued in 1995 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first Iwo Jima stamp.
 During World War II, exactly seventy one years ago – U.S. fighting forces displayed extraordinary courage and determination in winning the war in the Pacific. But it was on the island of Iwo Jima that a singular event occurred that would come to symbolize for all time American valour in the long bitter fight against the Japanese. With Japan’s home islands sighted squarely in their minds, as the next target for American warplanes, the U.S. determined that the  volcanic island of Iwo Jima was vital to the US goal. The only island in its region suitable for an airfield. Iwo Jima was already the site of two operational Japanese air strips, when the US Marines began their invasion on 19 February 1945. On February 23 – after clawing their way up Mt. Suribachi  under relentless Japanese fire – Marine raised a small American flag on the summit.
The sight of the American flag 'The Old Glory' waving in the breeze evoked cheers from Marines. Offshore, U.S. warships blew their whistles in tribute. Few hours later, as a larger flag was being raised on the Mt. Suribachi, the Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal took the memorable picture of the event and became the most famous of the Pacific war.  
The photograph was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Flags at Sea: Ensigns

Flags at Sea; ENSIGN

 William Crampton in his book “The World of Flags” wrote “The use of flags at sea was the beginning of the flags as they are known today, since they were actually flown from masts and staffs rather than merely held in hand”. Since time immemorial, flags have always been used at sea in trading vessels (merchant ships) and ‘men-of-war’ (warships).

The ‘Age of Discovery’ saw the development of heraldic sails, ie, ones painted with armorial devices all over. The armorial devices symbolic of nationality ultimately gave away to modern Flags at Sea.
At sea there has grown up etiquette of how the flags should be used and where they should be hoisted and the occasions when they are used. 
 We will discuss about the Flags at Sea chapters wise, viz. Ensign, Jack, Pennant, Courtesy Flag, House Flag, Flag of Convenience, Signal Flags, Rainbow Fashion, Pirate Flag, Yacht Flag and finally “Flag Customs at Sea” with philatelic illustrations.
 The term ‘ENSIGN’ is derived from Greek Semeion, Latin equivalents Signus and Insigne is the distinguishing National flag worn by ships at or near the stern. According to Late E. M. C. Barraclough, foremost flag historian, the term 'Ensign' was first used by the British Navy way back in 1574.
White Ensign (War Ship) - Red Ensign (Merchant Ship) - Blue Ensign (Ship on Govt. duty)

The Spanish Ensign (1516 - 1785); The Cross of Burgundy -        The Saltire Raguly.

Many National Flags of today were, in fact, first created as Ensigns for use at sea.
 The first display of Japanese Ensign was on the occasion of the trip to the US in 1860 of the first diplomatic delegation ever sent abroad. The cruiser Kanrin Maru sailed the Pacific, for this purpose flew the Japanese Flag "Hi No Maru" at the bow for the first time s the symbol of the nation.

Swallow-tailed or Split National Flag is used as Naval Ensign in Scandinavian Countries.
Indian White Ensign (2001-2004)

IN White Ensign (2004-2014)

Most Commonwealth countries use White Ensign to denote Warship

Italian and Korean Naval Ensigns
 Red Ensigns denote Merchant ships
Israel's Merchant ship Ensign
Indian Coast Guard's Blue Ensign defaced with Coast Guard's emblem.

In most countries, but not all, Ensign discharges a dual function; it shows the Nationality and the function of the ship, for example a warship, a merchant ship or a ship in government service, namely, Coast Guard, Coastal/River Police, Customs, Private Yachts and so forth. Most countries, particularly within the Commonwealth Member countries have three or more different ensigns – one for the warships (white), one for the merchant ships (Red) and one used by ships in government duties (Blue). Often these ensigns are further differentiated by superimposing (defacing) the ensigns with the ‘badges’ or ‘emblems’ of the particular organization the ship belongs.
The German Imperial Reichskiegsflagge (War Flag; 1903-1921) was based on Naval Ensign of Prussia dating back to Teutonic Knights.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Flags at Sea: Jack

“Jack” is the name given to the “Flag” flown on a small vertical spar (pole) at the stem or on the bowsprit of a warship.

E.M.C. Barraclough, the internationally renowned vexillologist writes ‘although at first ‘Jacks’ were flown from the mast-head of a ship, it soon became the practice to fly them from the ‘sprit-mast’ which was fixed to the bowsprit. It was often been thought that the “flag” is called a “Jack” because it flies from the ‘Jack-staff’, but actually the ‘staff’ is called a “Jack-staff” because the “Jack Flag” flies from it. Likewise, the British “Union Flag” is most often wrongly referred to as “Union Jack”.
Most countries use the diminutive of their National flag as ‘Jack’
 Scandinavian countries State flags and Jacks are 'swallow-tailed' or 'split' at the fly.
  Some countries have/had  ‘historic’ or other special 'flag'              for use as ‘Jack’ at sea.

The Great Star Flag 1837
An 1818 act established that the Great Star Flag include a star for each state and 13 stripes. Capt. Samuel C. Reid, a naval hero of the war of 1812, recommended arranging the stars into one 'large Star pattern', a common design in the 19th. century.

Greece has two Flags, one with the white ‘Greek Cross’ on blue field for use as ‘Jack’ at sea and the other with 'nine horizontal stripes of blue and white and to the upper side of the flagpole, there is a white cross on a blue background’ for use as ‘Ensign’

The U. S. Coast Guard Ensign and Jack
The badge has the motto ‘Semper Paratus’ (Always Prepared) and the date ‘1790’. The post card commemorates the 175 th. Anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard.