Prime Minister Narendra Modi today unveiled the new ensign of the Indian Navy during the commissioning of the country's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier — INS Vikrant, on September 2, the PMO said on Tuesday.
The new ensign or the 'Nishaan' is inspired by the Maratha Navy and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Prime Minister said ahead of the commissioning of INS Vikrant into the Indian Navy.
The new Nishaan will replace the ensign with a white flag with horizontal and vertical red stripes, called St George's Cross, with the Emblem of India emblazoned at the intersection of the two stripes.
While the Union Jack was replaced with the tricolour after Independence in 1947, in the canton, St George's Cross was retained. The horizontal and vertical red stripes, symbolising the Cross, are reminiscent of the colonial era, and have been dropped in the new ensign.
"Christian Warrior St George is believed to have been a crusader during the Third Crusade. It was adopted by the British Royal Navy and stayed on in the Indian Navy Ensign after Independence as the Indian defence forces continued with the British colonial flags and badges till an Indianised version was adopted on January 26, 1950," News18 reported.
On August 15 2001, the National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee replaced the Cross with the Indian Navy's crest with an Ashoka Lion atop an elaborate anchor at its centre.
However, this was undone by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. It restored the Cross. However, the red Cross now had the Ashoka Lion emblem at the centre.
The decision to restore the old ensign with minor changes was taken after the Indian Navy complained that the ensign adopted in 2001 was indistinguishable at sea due to its blue colour.
However, the restoration of the Cross by the Congress-led government remains unexplained to this day, with critics arguing that the government could have come up with a more appropriate design.
Talking of Chhatrapati's Shivaji Maharaj's navy, around 1665, he launched a successful naval expedition to liberate the town of Basrur from the control of Portuguese traders. Basrur is a town on the Karnataka coast.
Shivaji's naval expedition ensured that the control of the trade from Basrur is wrested from the hands of foreigners and is given back to the locals.
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