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Quest for a Flag for India, Part - IV

-->The Vande Mataram Flags

The first Swadeshi flag or Vande Mataram flag was hoisted on August 7, 1906 by Surendranath Banerjee  at  Greer Park, opposite University Science Collage on Upper Circular Road in Calcutta. The day was being  observed as Boycott Day, the first anniversary of Lord Curzon’s (the then Viceroy of India) infamous promulgation of Partition of Bengal order.


The flag was designed by Sachindra Prosad Basu,  Secretary, Anti-circular Society of Calcutta and Sukumar Mitra, a close associate of Surendranath Banerjee. Dr. Bhupendranath Dutta (younger brother of Swamy Vivekananda) and editor of the then Bengali weekly Jugantar, wrote in his book ‘Bharater Dwitiya Swadhinater Sangaram Aprakashita Rajnaitik Itihas (India’s Second War of Independence - The Untold History) published in 1926, that Sukumar Mitra And Sachindra Prisad Basu while designing the flag were influenced by the French Tricolore and the message “Liberte, Egalite & Fraternite

-->The Swadeshi cry ‘Vande Matarm’ (Hail to Mother) was taken from Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Ananda Math, written in 1882.

The Flag was later hoisted by the Congress President Dadabhoy Naoroji, the Grand Old Man of India (1825-1917) at the Calcutta Session of Congress in December 1906.  

Parallelism in History!! 

A strikingly similar to the Calcutta flag, with minor deviations was proudly waved by Madame Cama  on August 22, 1907 at the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart, Germany. Waving the flag she declared “ This the flag of Indian Independence. Behold, it is born. It is already sanctioned by the blood of martyred Indian youths …” 

-->Dr. Bhupendranath Dutta made an in-depth analysis and wrote in his book mentioned ibid, that in all probability, it was Hem Chandra Kanungo (Das) who made the flag for Madame Cama, when he was in Paris. Dr. Dutta wrote Khasi Rao, the revolutionary brother of Madhav Rao, a General in the army of Baroda State, had gone to Switzerland for military training. He had carried with him a small replica of the Calcutta flag. In Geneva he met Hem Chandra Kanungo.  Madame Cama wrote in the leaflet titled “A message to the people of India” (The Vande Mataram, 1908) “….This flag of Vande Mataram, which I wave before you was made by a noble, selfless, young patriot, who is (sic. Hem Chandra Kanungo?) now standing at the bar of the  so-called  court of justice in our country”. 
 Madame Cama in one of her speech  stated "This is the flag for which Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki died".  
The proposed stamp on Prafulla Chaki is scheduled to be released in December 2010.

The above explains how the Calcutta flag reached Madame Cama through Hem Chandra Kanungo. 
Lt. Cdr. K. V. Singh in many of his books on Indian flag also mentioned the above facts. However, there are some historians who believe, that it was S. D. Savarkar who had designed the Cama’s flag, but there appears to have no supporting papers or explanations, as to  how the close similarity between the Calcutta flag and Madame Cama’s flag occurred !

When Madame Cama, came back to India In 1935, she left behind her original flag with Madhav Rao at Paris, who in turn passed on it to Indula Kanaiyalal Yagnik, a revolutionary from Gujarat. Indulal Yagnik secretly brought the flag into India. Veer Savarkar on October 26, 1937 publicly unveiled the flag at Poona (now Pune) with much fanfare. 
The framed flag is now on display at Tilak Museum, Pune for public viewing.