Book: The Indian Flag

Arundhati Virmani, A National Flag for India, New Delhi, Permanent Black, 2008

“Unearthing the complex history of the making of the Indian national flag, Arundhati Virmani reveals cultural processes that imposed a set of values and sentiments on an incredibly diverse and scattered body of people. She shows that the Indian flag had strong roots in the ethos of colonialism. It was a major resource for the nationalist movement, a tool that allowed large social diversities to assert the compelling necessity for a new political culture with secular nationalism as the unifying pole. This viewpoint was contested by the Muslim League, the Sikhs, the Indian princes, and Hindu nationalists. So how, in the end, did the Indian flag come to fly as it does today? And how, in contrast, was the flag of Pakistan created?”

« The long and difficult elaboration of the Indian national flag, the diverse and sometimes contrary expectations that built up around this object during half a century with their stakes profoundly rooted in the social world: these essential aspects of the historian’s work are masterfully unravelled in this book. » Jacques Revel, Historian, EHESS, Paris