India’s national identity elements provide a specific character to people’s perception about the country. The national flag, which evolved over several decades, and the national anthem play the most vital role in this respect.
We take a look at some interesting features of these and other national identity elements.
The National Flag or the Tricolor is the greatest symbol of India’s national identity and its composition defines what the country and its people are all about. The flag has three equal horizontal stripes in saffron, white and green, with the Dharma Chakra in navy blue in the centre of the white strip.
India’s national anthem is Jana Gana Mana.The words and music are derived from the first stanza of Rabindranath Tagore’s original composition in Bengali.The Hindi version was adopted as the national anthem by the Constituent Assembly in 1950. It takesabout 52 seconds to play the national anthem in its entirety. A shorter version of the anthem, comprising the first and last lines, is also played on special occasions and takes approximately 20 seconds.
An adaptation of the Lion Capital at Sarnath, India’s state emblem has three lions standing back to back. They are mounted on an abacus which has the Dharma Chakra or the Wheel of Law in the centre, a bull on the right and a galloping horse on the left.The original Lion Capital had four lions but in the state emblem adopted on 26 January 1950, the fourth one is hidden from view.
India’s national bird is the majestic Indian peacock (Pavo cristatus or the Indian blue peafowl). It is the male of the species which attracts greater attention, with its glistening blue neck and breast. Its bronze-green tail, which makes for a spectacular sight when it fans out during the courtship dance, is made up of a large number of elongated feathers. The female of the species lacks the tail and is brown in colour.
The magnificent striped tiger (Panthera tigris, the largest cat species) is India’s national animal. The Indian race of this species, the Royal Bengal Tiger, is found in many parts of the country. The tiger signifies grace, strength, agility and power. In 1973, India launched Project Tiger to check the declining number of tigers in the country.
The lotus (Nelumbo Nucifera Gaertn) is the national flower of India. It is considered to be a sacred flower and occupies an important place in the country’s art and mythology. It is considered to be auspicious in Indian culture. The lotus, which grows in shallow water, has bright floating flowers with long stems.
India’s national tree is the banyan tree (Ficus bengalensis). Its branches take root and spread over a large area, giving rise to more trunks and branches. The banyan tree is known for its longevity andfinds mention in Indian mythology.It occupies a special place in rural life as village councils and panchayats often assemble under the tree’s vast expanse.