“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, gentlemen to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag, I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this flag.” – Bhikaiji Cama

The first tricolor flag representing India was unfurled by Bhikaji Cama at Stuttgart, Germany in the year 1907. The flag had green, saffron and red stripes and was designed by Veer Savarkar with the help of other revolutionaries; red represented strength, saffron victory, and green stood for boldness and enthusiasm. There were eight lotuses representing the eight provinces while flowers represented the princely states. ‘Vande Mataram’ in Devanagari adorned the central saffron stripe. The sun and the moon indicated the Hindu and Muslim faiths respectively.

Madam Bhikaji Cama, the frail Indian daughter of rich Parsi parents, had a nationalist streak right from the start.Exiled in Europe for years, she worked with prominent Indian leaders. 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 it the “Flag of Indian Independence” while attending the second Socialist Congress at Stuttgart, Germany.

This flag was smuggled into India by Indulal Yagnik, the socialist leader of Gujarat. It is now on public display at the Maratha and Kesari Library in Pune.

She was married to Rustom KR Cama, a rich handsome social worker and lawyer. But ideologically they were poles apart. While Cama adored British culture and thought they had done a lot of good to India, Bhikaji believed that the British had fleeced India and practiced the worst form of imperialism. She had thousand and one reasons to present how India was kept in abject poverty by the British. Eventually, the couple separated.