This section introduces you to the National Identity Elements of India. These symbols are intrinsic to the Indian identity and heritage. Indians of all demographics backgrounds across the world are proud of these National Symbols as they infuse a sense of pride and patriotism in every Indian's heart.
The National Flag is a horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (kesaria) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion. The ratio of width of the flag to its length is two to three. In the centre of the white band is a navy-blue wheel which represents the chakra.
The top saffron colour, indicates the strength and courage of the country. The white middle band indicates peace and truth with Dharma Chakra. The green shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land.
Its design is that of the wheel which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Its diameter approximates to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes. The design of the National Flag was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India on 22 July 1947.
It is really amazing to see the various changes that our National Flag went through since its first inception. It was discovered or recognized during our national struggle for freedom. The evolution of the Indian National Flag sailed through many vicissitudes to arrive at what it is today.
The National Anthem of India is played or sung on various occasions. Instructions have been issued from time to time about the correct versions of the Anthem, the occasions on which these are to be played or sung, and about the need for paying respect to the anthem by observance of proper decorum on such occasions. The substance of these instructions has been embodied in this information sheet for general information and guidance.
The composition consisting of the words and music of the first stanza of the late poet Rabindra Nath Tagore's song known as "Jana Gana Mana" is the National Anthem of India. It reads as follows:
Jana-gana-mana-adhinayaka jaya he
Tava shubha name jage, tava shubha asisa mage,
gahe tava jaya-gatha.
Jana-gana-mangala-dayaka jaya he
Jaya he, Jaya he, Jaya he,
jaya jaya jaya, jaya he.
The above is the full version of the Anthem and its playing time is approximately 52 seconds.
The song Vande Mataram, composed in Sanskrit by Bankimchandra Chatterji, was a source of inspiration to the people in their struggle for freedom. It has an equal status with Jana-gana-mana. The first political occasion when it was sung was the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress. The following is the text of its first stanza:
Sujalam, suphalam, malayaja shitalam,
Phullakusumita drumadala shobhinim,
Suhasinim sumadhura bhashinim,
Sukhadam varadam, Mataram!
Vande Mataram, Vande Mataram!
National State Emblem
The state emblem is an adaptation from the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. In the original, there are four lions, standing back to back, mounted on an abacus with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion separated by intervening wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the Capital is crowned by the Wheel of the Law (Dharma Chakra).
In the state emblem, adopted by the Government of India on 26 January 1950, only three lions are visible, the fourth being hidden from view. The wheel appears in relief in the centre of the abacus with a bull on right and a horse on left and the outlines of other wheels on extreme right and left. The bell-shaped lotus has been omitted. The words Satyameva Jayate from Mundaka Upanishad, meaning 'Truth Alone Triumphs', are inscribed below the abacus in Devanagari script.
National Currency Symbol
The symbol of Indian Rupee typifies India's international identity for money transactions and economic strength. The Indian Rupee sign is an allegory of Indian ethos. The symbol is an amalgam of Devanagari "Ra" and the Roman Capital "R" with two parallel horizontal stripes running at the top representing the national flag and also the "equal to" sign. The Indian Rupee sign was adopted by the Government of India on 15th July, 2010.
The symbol, conceptualised and designed by Udaya Kumar, a post graduate in Design from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, has been chosen from thousands of concept entries received by the Ministry of Finance through an open competition among resident Indian nationals. The process of establishing and implementing this new identity is underway through various digital technology and computer applications.
The magnificent tiger, Panthera tigris is a striped animal. It has a thick yellow coat of fur with dark stripes. The combination of grace, strength, agility and enormous power has earned the tiger its pride of place as the national animal of India. Out of eight races of the species known, the Indian race, the Royal Bengal Tiger, is found throughout the country except in the north-western region and also in the neighbouring countries, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. To check the dwindling population of tigers in India, 'Project Tiger' was launched in April 1973. So far, 27 tiger reserves have been established in the country under this project, covering an area of 37,761 sq km.
National Aquatic Animal
Ganges River Dolphin is the National Aquatic Animal of India. The Ministry of Environment and Forests notified (File referring to external site opens in a new window) the Ganges River Dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal on 18th May 2010. This mammal is also said to represent the purity of the holy Ganga as it can only survive in pure and fresh water. Platanista gangetica has a long pointed snout and also have visible teeth in both the upper and lower jaws. Their eyes lack a lens and therefore function solely as a means of detecting the direction of light. Dolphins tend to swim with one fin trailing along the substrate while rooting around with their beak to catch shrimp and fish. Dolphins have a fairly thick body with light grey-brown skin often with a hue of pink. The fins are large and the dorsal fin is triangular and undeveloped. This mammal has a forehead that rises steeply and has very small eyes. River Dolphins are solitary creatures and females tend to be larger than males. They are locally known as susu, because of the noise it makes while breathing. This species inhabits parts of the Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra rivers in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, and the Karnaphuli River in Bangladesh.
River dolphin is a critically endangered species in India and therefore, has been included in the Schedule I for the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The main reasons for decline in population of the species are poaching and habitat degradation due to declining flow, heavy siltation, construction of barrages causing physical barrier for this migratory species.
The Indian peacock, Pavo cristatus, the national bird of India, is a colourful, swan-sized bird, with a fan-shaped crest of feathers, a white patch under the eye and a long, slender neck. The male of the species is more colourful than the female, with a glistening blue breast and neck and a spectacular bronze-green tail of around 200 elongated feathers. The female is brownish, slightly smaller than the male and lacks the tail. The elaborate courtship dance of the male, fanning out the tail and preening its feathers is a gorgeous sight.
The national calendar based on the Saka Era, with Chaitra as its first month and a normal year of 365 days was adopted from 22 March 1957 along with the Gregorian calendar for the following official purposes:
- Gazette of India.
- News broadcast by All India Radio.
- Calendars issued by the Government of India.
- Government communications addressed to the members of the public.
Dates of the national calendar have a permanent correspondence with dates of the Gregorian calendar, 1 Chaitra falling on 22 March normally and on 21 March in leap year.
Lotus (Nelumbo Nucipera Gaertn) is the National Flower of India. It is a sacred flower and occupies a unique position in the art and mythology of ancient India and has been an auspicious symbol of Indian culture since time immemorial.
India is rich in flora. Currently available data place India in the tenth position in the world and fourth in Asia in plant diversity. From about 70 per cent geographical area surveyed so far, 47,000 species of plants have been described by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).
A fleshy fruit, eaten ripe or used green for pickles etc., of the tree Mangifera indica, the mango is one of the most important and widely cultivated fruits of the tropical world. Its juicy fruit is a rich source of Vitamins A, C and D. In India there are over 100 varieties of mangoes, in different sizes, shapes and colours. Mangoes have been cultivated in India from time immemorial. The poet Kalidasa sang its praises. Alexander savoured its taste, as did the Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang. Mughal emperor Akbar planted 100,000 mango trees in Darbhanga, Bihar at a place now known as Lakhi Bagh.
The Ganga or Ganges is the longest river of India flowing over 2,510 kms of mountains, valleys and plains. It originates in the snowfields of the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas as the Bhagirathi River. It is later joined by other rivers such as the Alaknanda, Yamuna, Son, Gumti, Kosi and Ghagra. The Ganga river basin is one of the most fertile and densely populated areas of the world and covers an area of 1,000,000 sq. kms. There are two dams on the river - one at Haridwar and the other at Farakka. The Ganges River Dolphin is an endangered animal that specifically habitats this river.
The Ganga is revered by Hindus as the most sacred river on earth. Key religious ceremonies are held on the banks of the river at cities such as Varanasi, Haridwar and Allahabad. The Ganga widens out into the Ganges Delta in the Sunderbans swamp of Bangladesh, before it ends its journey by emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
Indian fig tree, Ficus bengalensis, whose branches root themselves like new trees over a large area. The roots then give rise to more trunks and branches. Because of this characteristic and its longevity, this tree is considered immortal and is an integral part of the myths and legends of India. Even today, the banyan tree is the focal point of village life and the village council meets under the shade of this tree.