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Tribute to the 'flag man'

An enlightening documentary in Pingali Venkayya.

PHOTO: K.RAMESH BABU

REAL HERO A statue of Pingali Venkayya adorns the Tank Bund road among many other great heroes-

Marking the birth anniversary of Pingali Venkayya, the man behind the national flag, a one hour documentary film made on him was screened at Ravindra Bharati last week. Uppaluri Mallikarjuna Sarma, played the role of Venkayya in the film. Having sacrificed everything for freedom struggle, Venkayya had died in penury.

The narrative of the film gives a glimpse into the life of Venkayya. He was born in Bhatla Penumarru on August2, 1878. His ancestors hailed from Maharashtra. He joined army at the age of 19 , went to South Africa and took part in the Boer war. On his return, he became a member of secret revolutionary units fighting against the British. He went to Lahore's DAV College where he studied Sanskrit and Urdu. He was known to speak in Japanese language and hence he was also known as `Japan Venkayya'. He took part in Congress sessions when Dadabhai Nauroji was the party president (1908). It was here he met Muktyalaraja Nayani Ranga Rao Bahadur and with him Venkayya came to Munagala. He took interest in agrarian revolution and wrote a book on agriculture and became member of Royal Agricultural Society in Britain. He served as lecturer in Bandar's National College.

The beginnings

Vijayawada was the centre for All-India Congress committee meetings in 1921. On the request of Gandhiji, Venkaiah designed the flag and was accepted by the Congress party. On July 22, 1947, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru accepted Venkaiah's design as a national flag but added the `Ashoka Chakra' emblem in the centre of the tri-colour flag.

Later, Venkayya moved away from politics. He also did research on mica, combed for mines at places like Hampi and Vajrakaroor and sent reports to the Government. He discovered first diamond stone.

However, he died on July 4, 1963 in utter penury. Before he breathed his last, he asked his men to cover his body with the tri-color he had designed and then instructed that it be removed after his body was placed on the pyre and later hang the flagto a tree branch.

The sequences of Venkayya showing the flag he designed to Mahatma Gandhi and Gandhi's reaction and appreciation was interestingly shot. The scenes of Venkayya's last journey too were moving

G.S.

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