Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday unveiled a new ensign (nishaan) for the Indian Navy during the event to mark the commissioning of INS Vikrant in Kochi.
What is the new ensign?
The new ensign consists of the national flag on the upper canton, a blue octagon encasing the national emblem atop an anchor to depict steadfastness, superimposed on a shield with the Navy’s motto “Sam No Varuna” (a Vedic mantra invoking the god of seas to be auspicious) in Devanagari.
The octagon represents the eight directions and has been included as a symbol of the Navy’s “multidirectional reach and multidimensional operational capability”. The golden borders of the octagon have been inspired by the seal of Maratha Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
The older ensigns
The ensign of the Indian Navy has undergone multiple changes since India gained Independence from the British empire. Before Independence, the Navy’s ensign carried the Union Jack on the upper canton along with St. George’s Cross. In 1950, the Union Jack was replaced by the Indian flag but the cross was retained.
In 2001, St. George’s Cross was replaced with the naval crest, but the cross was brought back in 2004 – this time with the national emblem superimposed in the middle of it. In 2014, “Satyamev Jayate” was written in Devanagari script, right below the emblem.
According to a video released by the spokesperson of the Navy, the change in the ensign is a way to shed the “last remnants of the colonial past”.