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History

National Anthem

The Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, was originally composed as a Bengali song by Rabindranath Tagore. It was first sung on 27 December 1911, at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress. On 24 January, 1950, the Hindi version was adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India.

The complete song consists of five stanzas. The national anthem is the 1st.

The playing time of the full version of the National Anthem is approximately 52 seconds. A short version, consisting of first and last lines of the stanza (playing time approximately 20 seconds), is also played on certain occasions.

National Emblem
The National Emblem of India is a replica of the Lion Capital, erected by Emperor Ashoka, at Sarnath (near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh), way back in the third century BC, to mark the spot where Buddha first proclaimed his gospel of peace. The National emblem is thus symbolic of contemporary India 's reaffirmation of its ancient commitment to universal peace and goodwill.

The four lions (one hidden from view) - symbolizing power, courage and confidence - rest on a circular abacus. The abacus is girded by four smaller animals, who are guardians of the four directions: the lion of the north, the horse of the south, the elephant of the east, and the bull of the west. The abacus rests on a lotus in full bloom, exemplifying the fountainhead of life and creative inspiration. The motto 'Satyameva Jayate', inscribed below the emblem in Devanagari script, means 'truth alone triumphs'.

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National Flag

Tricolor
The Indian national flag is a horizontal tricolor with deep saffron on the top (representing courage, sacrifice and the spirit of renunciation), white in the middle (standing for purity and truth) and dark green at the bottom (for faith and fertility). The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is two is to three. In the centre of the white band, there is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra - the wheel of law in the Sarnath Lion Capital. It has 24 spokes.

History
In the early l9Oos, Madame Bhikaiji Cama and her group of exiled revolutionaries hoisted a flag in Paris , symbolizing the Indian people's aspiration to nationhood. This is widely accepted as the first flag in the Indian freedom movement, though some historians believe the "first" flag was actually unfurled at the Parsi Bagan Square in Calcutta on August 7, 1906. The Paris banner had a red band with a white lotus flower and seven stars to denote the Milky Way; a yellow band with Vande Mataram inscribed in deep blue Devanagri script; a green band with a sun on the left and a crescent-and-star symbol on the right, both in white.

Nine years later, during the Home Rule Movement, Dr Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak presented yet another flag; this one had five alternating horizontal stripes of red and green, a Union Jack in the left top corner reflecting the demand of the day that India be given dominion status within the British Empire, the Milky Way in the centre, and a crescent-and-star in the right top corner. The rising tide of nationalism quickly made the flag unacceptable.

In 1921, during the session of the All-India Congress Committee at Bezwada (now Vijayawada), a student from Masulipatnam's National College presented Mahatma Gandhi with a flag of red and green, the colours representing the two major Indian communities, the Hindus and the Muslims. Gandhi suggested the addition of a white stripe to symbolize the rest of India 's communities, and a charkha (spinning wheel) to symbolize the masses of India.

The tricolour, officially adopted as the national emblem by the Congress at its 1931 Karachi session presided over by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, held no communal undertones. The flag had a band of deep saffron to symbolize courage and sacrifice, a band of white imprinted with a blue charkha for truth, and a band of dark green for faith and chivalry. On July 22, 1947, three weeks before Independence , the Constituent Assembly adopted the tricolour as India 's National Flag, but replaced the charkha with the Asoka Chakra, which appears on the abacus of the Lion Pillar at Sarnath.

The Flag Code

In 1950, to guard the national flag against desecration, Parliament included a section in The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, forbidding its use in any trade mark or design unless permitted by the Central Government. Later in 1971 it passed the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, stipulating three years' imprisonment or fine, or both, for anyone who, in public view, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples on or otherwise brings the National Flag into contempt.

On 26th January 2002, the flag code was changed drastically. Earlier, the flag was allowed to be flown daily only from important public buildings such as the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Supreme Court, border posts, and official residences of the President and Vice-President, governors and lieutenant governors. Now, apart from basic rules to follow while flying the flags, all other restrictions have been removed, and Indians can fly the tricolor over their homes, offices and factories on any day.

Rules of Use

The Flag should be hoisted at sunrise and lowered at sunset. It may be displayed after sunset only on very special occasions. It should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. No other flag or bunting should fly above the tricolour and none beside it, except for the UN flag and other national flags, which may be hung to the left. No flowers, garlands or emblems may be placed on the flagmast, nor any other flag flown on the same pole.

National Animal

India 's national animal, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Panthera Tigris (Linnaeus), is the Indian variety of the eight races of the species. This magnificient carnivorous feline quadruped, known for its' grace, strength and power, is today, alas, an endangered species, having been remorselessly hunted for its thick tawny yellow striped fur coat. To check the dwindling population of tigers in India 'Project Tiger' was launched in April 1973. So far, 25 tiger reserves have been established in the country under this project.

National Bird

The Indian peacock, Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus), is the national bird of India . A colourful, swan-sized bird, it has a white patch under the eye, a long slender neck, and striking plumage. The male of the species is more colourful than the female, with a glistening blue breast and neck and a spectacular bronze-green train of around 200 elongated feathers. The female is brownish, slightly smaller than the male, and lacks the train. The elaborate courtship dance of the male, fanning out the tail and preening its feathers, is a gorgeous sight.

The peacock is widely found in the Indian sub-continent, wild, and also domesticated in villages. They were once bred for food but are now protected from being hunted, by the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. These birds do not sound as beautiful as they look - they have a harsh call.

National Flower

The Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), or water lily, is the National Flower of India. Prized for its' serene beauty, this aquatic plant has broad floating leaves and bright fragrant flowers that grow only in shallow waters. In India , the lotus is considered to be a sacred flower, occupying a unique position in the art and mythology of ancient India , having much folklore and religious mythology woven around it.

National Tree

The Banyan tree, Ficus bengalensis, whose branches root like new trees thereby spreading out over a large area, is India 's National tree. Because of its' longevity and this replicating characteristic, the banyan 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.

National Fruit

The mango, fruit of the Mangifera Indica tree, is India 's National Fruit. A rich source of Vitamins A, C and D, the mango is eaten ripe or used raw for pickles. Over 100 varieties of mangoes are cultivated in India , and each part of the country has its' favourite. Mangoes have been cultivated in India from time immemorial. The poet Kalidasa sang its' praises, the Greek conqueror Alexander savored its taste, as did the Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang. Mughal Emperor Akbar planted 100,000 mango trees in Lakhi Bagh in Darbhanga.