Within hours of meeting the family members of the designer of the Indian national flag Pingali Venkaiah on Friday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recommending that a Bharat Ratna be awarded to him posthumously. "Request your kind self to honour the aspirations of the people of Andhra Pradesh by giving a deserving acknowledgement to the life and contribution of late Pingali Venkaiah by conferring Bharat Ratna (posthumously) upon him," Jagan said in the letter.
Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award in India. In his letter, Jagan highlighted that the theme of ‘Har Ghar Jhanda’ (flag in every home) is part of the 'Azad ka Amrut Mahostav' programme starting from March 12, meant to mark the occasion 75 years of Indian Independence, bringing Venkaiah's contribution to the fore.
CM Jagan on Friday met and honoured the nonagenarian daughter, and descendants of Pingali Venkaiah, at their residence in Macherla in Guntur district. Jagan honoured Sita Mahalakshmi (99), daughter of Venkaiah, by wrapping a shawl around her and presenting a memento. He spoke with Sita Mahalakshi and all her family members, encompassing up to three generations. The state government has also sanctioned Rs 75 lakh as financial assistance to Sita Mahalakshmi.
Venkaiah was born on August 2, 1876 in Bhatlapenumarru village near Machilipatnam in Krishna district.
"Deeply influenced by Gandhian thoughts and ideology, Venkaiah decided to dedicate his life to the service of the nation and take part in the freedom movement," said Jagan.
According to the Chief Minister, Venkaiah witnessed the effect of the common national flag on the mind and psyche of people and decided to undertake a scientific study of multiple flags from around the world.
Jagan said his study went on to sharpen his acumen in designing India's national flag and enabled him to publish a booklet named 'A National Flag for India' which depicted various flags of countries and doled out his ideas for one Indian national flag.
"It had 30 different designs of Indian national flag, each with its rationale and explanation. He ardently advocated that the country should have a flag of its own that will help in precipitating the energies of people participating in the freedom movement," he said.
A century ago on March 31, 1921 in Vijayawada, Venkaiah gifted his designs to Mahatma Gandhi, who recognized his passionate efforts and wrote in his journal 'Young India', "We should be prepared to sacrifice our lives for the sake of our national flag. Pingali Venkaiah, who is working in Andhra National College Machilipatnam, has published a book describing the flags of countries and designed many models for our own national flag".
On July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted Venkaiah's design as the free Indian national flag, thus crediting him as the designer of the Indian national flag.
"However, his life and works largely remain unrecognized. He breathed his last on July 4, 1963. The country has lost several decades without recognizing the untiring efforts of her son Venkaiah who gifted it the first designs and specimens of the national flag," noted Jagan.
"It is right in this light, I request your kind self to confer Bharat Ratna (posthumously) upon Venkaiah that would not only bequeath peace on to his parted soul but also fulfil the aspirations of the people of AP," observed the CM.
Reminding the precedent of conferring Bharat Ratna on other eminent departed leaders, Jagan invoked the names of Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika (1926-2011) and Nanaji Deshmukh (1916-2010), who were posthumously decorated by the Government of India in 2019.
"In recognition of their contribution to public life, Government of India has conferred Bharat Ratna posthumously upon Aruna Asaf Ali, Jayprakash Narayan and many others," he said.