The International Socialist Conference took place in Stuttgart, a town in Germany, on 21 August 1907. The conference was attended by one thousand officials from all over the globe. In those days, an Indian woman in a colorful sari was a rare phenomenon, and her magnificent appearance and courageous and clear words made everyone believe she was a Maharani or at least an indigenous princess. Bhikaji Cama unfurled the first version of the Indian domestic flag on this occasion— a tricolor of green, saffron, and red stripes. Then the ardent woman announced
“This is the flag of independent India. I appeal to all gentlemen to stand and salute the Flag.”
Surprised by the spectacular event, all the conference officials stood up and welcomed the autonomous Hindustan’s first flag. Ms. Cama wanted to bring poverty, hunger, and oppression to the attention of the international community under the British Raj, as well as India’s thirst for freedom, and she had succeeded.
The Pink Line of Delhi metro station at Bhikaji Cama Place located on the Ring Road is named after this brave freedom fighter, who is credited with developing an early version of India’s Flag based on the Calcutta Flag.
Madam Cama was born on 24th September 1861 at Mumbai in a rich Parsi family. Her father Sorabji Framji Patel and her brother were Mumbai’s large traders. At Cumballa Hill, they had a palatial home. Young Bhikaji was well educated in English, but she was a rebel and a nationalist from the start. She had a nice flair in learning languages and was fluent in four languages English, Gujarati, Hindi, and Marathi. At a young age, she became able to argue the cause of her country in a distinct circle.
She was married to Rustom Khurshid Cama on August 3, 1885, who was a professional solicitor, but she quickly had to dessert her husband who had insulted her wifehood. Despite the destruction of family lives, she did not sit idle. She was devoted to social work.
As she settled in London / Paris at the start of this century, she fought for liberty until the last in her own manner and assisted countless revolutionaries with cash and equipment across the ocean. Her life and mission make her read intriguing, demonstrating the significant part she played in the early years of the fight for liberty.
Madam Cama plunged into a number of social activities. At that moment, the Plague broke out in Bombay’s presidency and was at the forefront of the volunteer squad seeking to save victims of the plague. She finally caught the lethal disease herself but was miraculously saved. She remained very weak and was advised to go to rest and recovery in Europe. She left for London in 1902 for the remainder of her life to become her home.
She served as Dadabhai Navaroji’s private secretary, a wonderful Indian leader at the national movement’s forefront. She came into touch with several learners from patriots and European intellectuals who sympathized with the Indian cause during this short era. She later played a dominant role in encouraging the fight for liberty.
Mrs. Cama also battled for women’s cause. Speaking at the 1910 National Conference in Cairo, Egypt, she asked, “Where is the other half of Egypt? I see only males representing half of the country!”
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Mrs. Cama took an anti-British stand and attempted her utmost to raise awareness among Indians of the damage caused by fighting against imperialist powers.
About The Flag
She also clarified the significance of colors and symbols at the International Socialist Conference on 21 August 1907, when Mrs. Cama unfurled the flag. The Flag’s top stripe was in color Green. Eight lotus flowers depicted the eight Indian provinces of those days. The slogan “Vande Mataram” was engraved on the center saffron stripe. On the bottom red stripe, the Sun and Moon indicated that India would remain independent until the skies were graced by the Sun and Moon.
The color of the Green expressed the spirit and courage. The color of Saffron showed victory and the color of Red showed strength. Mrs. Cama provided a simple speech after reading the resolution. At the end of the speech, waving the flag, she said, “Before I finish my speech, I want to inform you that while I’m alive, I hope to see that India’s Republican State is being created. Vande Mataram.”
The British had prohibited her Indian entry for fear of her revolutionary past and affirmed her nationalist perspective. But she fought on foreign land for 35 years and took his toll. She was hospitalized after reaching Bombay and died on August 13, 1936. A fearless woman, she brought knowledge in Europe and America of the Indian fight for independence and was instrumental in assisting several revolutionaries with finances and publication.