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 The Outrage Over the New National Emblem


Prime Minister recently gave the nation a first glimpse of the national emblem atop the new Parliament House coming up as part of the Central Vista Project.

  • The first look at the new 6.5 metre bronze emblem disappointed many with its alleged inaccuracies in depiction.


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. History behind the national emblem
  2. Why did the Constituent Assembly embrace the Sarnath pillar as the national emblem?
  3. What is the controversy behind the latest replica?

History behind the national emblem

  • Four Asiatic lions are part of the national emblem with three lions being visible to the naked eye and the fourth one always hidden from general view.
  • They are taken from the Sarnath Lion Capital of the Mauryan emperor Asoka.
  • The seven feet tall sculpture made of polished sandstone represented courage, power and pride.
  • Built in 250 BC to commemorate the first sermon of Gautama Buddha, where he is said to have shared the Four Noble Truths of life, it was mounted on a base of a frieze of smaller sculptures, including
    • a horse
    • a lion,
    • a bull
    • an elephant
  • All moving in a clockwise direction.
  • The four animals are said to be guardians of the four directions — north, south, east and west.
  • They are separated by a wheel, representing the Dharmachakra of Buddhism, on all four sides.
  • Each chakra or wheel has 24 spokes.
  • The chakra was later adopted as part of the national flag.
  • This abacus was mounted on an inverted lotus which is a symbol of Buddhism.
  • Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang has left a detailed account of Asoka’s lion pillar in his writings
  • The pillar was part of Asoka’s plan to spread Buddha’s teachings.
  • After the large-scale massacre in the Battle of Kalinga, Asoka was shaken and embraced Buddhism with its emphasis on ahimsa.
  • He decided to propagate his principles throughout his empire through the Major and Minor Edicts.

Why did the Constituent Assembly embrace the Sarnath pillar as the national emblem?

  • As India won independence, the Constituent Assembly decided on the Sarnath pillar as the national emblem.
  • It was felt that the pillar epitomised the power, courage and confidence of the free nation.
  • The emblem depicts a two-dimensional sculpture with the words Satyameva Jayate (truth alone triumphs) written below it, taken from the Mundaka Upanishad, written in Devanagari script.
  • On January 26, 1950, the Lion Capital of Asoka at Sarnath officially became the national emblem of India.
  • The emblem represents the seal of the Republic of India.
  • Five students of renowned artist Nandalal Bose created the emblem.
  • Among them were Jagdish Mittal, Kripal Singh Shekhawat, Gauri Bhanja and Dinanath Bhargava who was a young man in his 20s then.
  • He was advised by Bose to visit the Kolkata zoo to observe the lions closely so as to get the exact expression of the majestic animal.
  • He is said to have travelled 200 kilometres to observe the lions from close quarters.

What is the controversy behind the latest replica?

  • The latest replica by Deore and Moses has a steel pillar support of 6,500 kgs. The lions, many alleged, looked “too aggressive”, which amounted to tampering with the original in a hurry to meet the deadline of the Central Vista Project.
  • The designers countered the criticism about the lions looking aggressive by insisting that it was a matter of perspective, and claimed that the new emblem is a huge structure meant to be appreciated from a distance.
  • The original structure was 1.6 metre tall whereas the new depiction is 6.5 metre high.
  • Also, the original Lion Capital was at the ground level while the latest depiction is at a height of 33 metre from the ground.

-Source: The Hindu

June 2024