On August 21, 1907, an International Socialist Conference was being held at Stuttgart, a city in Germany. One thousand representatives from across the world had come to attend the conference.
Madam Bhikaji Cama became the first person to hoist Indian flag on foreign soil in that conference. Appealing for human rights, equality and for autonomy from Great Britain, she described the devastating effects of a famine that had struck the Indian subcontinent.
She then announced ; “Behold, the flag of independent India is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives in its honour. In the name of this flag, I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to support this struggle.”
The flag she unfurled was co-designed by Cama and Shyamji Krishna Varma, and later served as one of the templates from which the current national flag of India was created.
In the flag, the top green stripe had eight blooming lotuses representing pre-independence India’s eight provinces. ‘Bande Mataram‘ was written across the central saffron stripe in Hindi. On the bottom red stripe, a half moon was on the right and the rising sun on the left, indicating the Hindu and Muslim faith.
The same flag was later smuggled into India by socialist leader Indulal Yagnik and is now on display at the Maratha and Kesari Library in Pune.
Madam Bhikaji Cama’s conviction, courage and integrity took the message of Indian freedom struggle to the world with a force and clarity it had never before