— Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Indian philosopher and statesman who was the first Vice President and the second President of India 1888 - 1975
Address on the Flag of India (22 July 1947), as recorded in the Constituent Assembly Of India Vol. IV http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/vol4p7.htm
Context: The Flag links up the past and the present. It is the legacy bequeathed to us by the architects of our liberty. Those who fought under this Flag are mainly responsible for the arrival of this great day of Independence for India. Pandit Jawaharlal has pointed out to you that it is not a day of joy unmixed with sorrow. The Congress fought for unity and liberty. The unity has been compromised; liberty too. I feel, has been compromised, unless we are able to face the tasks which now confront us with courage, strength and vision. What is essential to-day is to equip ourselves with new strength and with new character if these difficulties are to be overcome and if the country is to achieve the great ideal of unity and liberty which it fought for. Times are hard. Everywhere we are consumed by phantasies. Our minds are haunted by myths. The world is full of misunderstandings, suspicions and distrusts. In these difficult days it depends on us under what banner we fight.
Here we are Putting in the very centre the white, the white of the Sun's rays. The white means the path of light. There is darkness even at noon as some People have urged, but it is necessary for us to dissipate these clouds of darkness and control our conduct-by the ideal light, the light of truth, of transparent simplicity which is illustrated by the colour of white.
We cannot attain purity, we cannot gain our goal of truth, unless we walk in the path of virtue. The Asoka's wheel represents to us the wheel of the Law, the wheel Dharma. Truth can be gained only by the pursuit of the path of Dharma, by the practice of virtue. Truth,—Satya, Dharma —Virtue, these ought to be the controlling principles of all those who work under this Flag. It also tells us that the Dharma is something which is perpetually moving. If this country has suffered in the recent past, it is due to our resistance to change. There are ever so many challenges hurled at us and if we have not got the courage and the strength to move along with the times, we will be left behind. There are ever so many institutions which are worked into our social fabric like caste and untouchability. Unless these things are scrapped we cannot say that we either seek truth or practise virtue. This wheel which is a rotating thing, which is a perpetually revolving thing, indicates to us that there is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. Our Dharma is Sanatana, eternal, not in the sense that it is a fixed deposit but in the sense that it is perpetually changing. Its uninterrupted continuity is its Sanatana character. So even with regard to our social conditions it is essential for us to move forward.
The red, the orange, the Bhagwa colour, represents the spirit of renunciation. All forms of renunciation are to be embodied in Raja Dharma. Philosophers must be kings. Our leaders must be disinterested. They must be dedicated spirits. They must be people who are imbued with the spirit of renunciation which that saffron, colour has transmitted to us from the beginning of our history. That stands for the fact that the World belongs not to the wealthy, not to the prosperous but to the meek and the humble, the dedicated and the detached.
That spirit of detachment that spirit of renunciation is represented by the orange or the saffron colour and Mahatma Gandhi has embodied it for us in his life and the Congress has worked under his guidance and with his message. If we are not imbued with that spirit of renunciation in than difficult days, we will again go under.
The green is there, our relation to the soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. We must build our Paradise, here on this green earth. If we are to succeed in this enterprise, we must be guided by truth (white), practise virtue (wheel), adopt the method of self-control and renunciation (saffron). This flag tells us "Be ever alert, be ever on the move, go forward, work for a free, flexible, compassionate, decent, democratic society in which Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists will all find a safe shelter." Let us all unite under this banner and rededicate ourselves to the ideas our flag symbolizes.