This is the story of Madam Bhikaiji Rustom Cama. She was a noted Indian independence activist, to be mentioned she was a bright star of the galaxy that was destined to the woman freedom fighters of India. Coming from an affluent Parsi family, Bhikaiji Cama, (who is famous in India as ‘Madam Cama’), was drawn towards the nationalist cause at an early age. Exiled in Europe for years, she worked with prominent Indian leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. She co-founded ‘Paris Indian Society’ and established literary works like ‘Madan’s Talwar’ and emerged as the first person to unfurl the Indian flag abroad, calling the nation towards the goal of freedom. While attending the second Socialist Congress at Stuttgart, Germany, on the glorious day that paved another history, she invoked the dawn of freedom. Calling our nation to be united, she named the flag as, the “Flag of Indian Independence”.
22 August, 1907, Stuggart, Germany
A lady is walking towards the International Socialist Conference. This is the place where she has decided to do something had been done never before. She is dressed in a simple saree, and she has something in her hand. Something, beyond a piece of designed cloth. Something, made to make another history!!
She comes to the entrance of the hall. Holding that piece, she stops for a while. She remembers her past. Born to a wealthy Bombay family, she was schooled at a famous English institution. Then she was married to a lawyer, in 1885, the year when she attended Indian National Congress meeting for the first time. It changed her life forever. She dedicated herself to the freedom fight of the nation.
She stops thinking, and comes back to the present. What is she doing here? She has no time to waste anymore. “No, I should not forget the humble purpose I am here today. It’s waiting. Yes, I have to go inside, it’s waiting”, she told to herself.
She starts going towards inside of the hall. While walking, she watches around her. People have gathered to witness something big today. She again remembers how she came to London, just after serving people affected by Plague. Then she met two famous freedom fighter leaders here. Inspired by them, she assisted them, and gave fiery speeches advocating Indian independence and freedom.
Someone calls her name, she returns to the present moment. Some people come to her, and request her to go to the stage. Everyone is waiting for her. She nods her head, says yes, and goes to the stage.
She comes to the centre of the stage, and sees the audience. But, wait..what is she seeing in front of her eyes? There is no Hall, no audience waiting eagerly to hear her speech and then clap in pleasure. She is seeing a battlefield, where some dominating authority are torturing some villagers, and some fighters are protesting that. She sees her motherland, India, waiting for the freedom!
She wants to speak, but her voice is chocked. She trembles. She feels something is burning inside her. She hardens her grip, and raises that piece of cloth she was holding. She unfurls that cloth. Everybody becomes silent, as they can see what the cloth was. It was nothing but a flag! It has stripes of three colours. She shouts,
“This flag is of Indian Independence! Behold, it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives. I call upon you to rise and salute the flag of Indian Independence. I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this flag.”
The Flag Of Bhikaiji Cama:
Based on the Calcutta Flag, the green, yellow and red fields represent Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism respectively. The crescent moon and the sun again represent Islam and Hinduism , respectively . The eight lotuses in the upper register represent the eight provinces of British India. The words in the middle are in Devanagri script and read Vande Mataram “[We] Bow to thee Mother [India]”, the slogan of the Indian National Congress.
The design was adopted in 1914 as the emblem of the Berlin Committee (later known as the Indian Independence Committee). The original flag raised by Cama in Stuttgart is now on display at the Maratha and Kesari Library in Pune.