Feb 28, 2015

Ireland, India

You may have noticed that both India and Republic of Ireland national flags are green and orange. But there are much more coincidences among the flags.

The tricolor flag of Republic of Ireland dates back from the first half of XIX century, but was revived for the Easter Rising (1916) and the Irish War of Independence soon after.

The orange represents the Protestantism (a reference to King William III of Orange, that inspired many Protestant banners), while the green represents the Catholicism (associated with Gaelicism). The white standed for the peace between that two religions...
Society of United Irishmen*Order of Orange

A peace that wouldn't last much. The Protestant-majority Northern Ireland opted to remain in United Kingdom while  the Catholic-majority remaining of the island gained the independence. Since then, the relationship between nationalists (that want Northern Ireland to join Republic of Ireland, usually Catholics) and unionists (that want it to remain in UK, usually Protestants) had ups and downs.

The flag of India was adopted in 1947. It's almost identical to the then-flag of Gandhi's party, the Indian National Congress, but with spinning wheel replaced by a Ashoka Chakra, representing the law and dharma.

The colors were chosen based in the most important religions of India: orange (officially described as "saffron") for Hinduism (probably borrowed from Maratha Empire), green for Islamism (probably taken from Mughal Empire) and white for the remaining religions.
Mughal Empire*Maratha Empire*

The flag, however, gained new symbolism. In the words of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, that would later became the second Indian president:
Bhagwa or the saffron colour denotes renunciation of disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the centre is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The "Ashoka Chakra" in the centre of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change.
The hope for an united India was short-lived: mainly-Muslim Pakistan (later divided in Pakistan and Bangladesh) wouldn't stay much time in the union, and the relationship between the two countries wouldn't be always friendly.

So similar in look, so similar destiny...

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

* Historical reconstructions.

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