EXPLAINED: What Is The Naval Ensign? Is The Indian Navy Preparing To Get A New One?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to launch the new naval ensign (flag) on September 2 for the Indian Navy. The program will be held in Kochi. Read on to what a naval ensign is and if the Indian Navy is preparing to adopt a new age. Why is there a need to adopt a new naval ensign?
What Is The Naval Ensign?
What Is The Naval Ensign?

Days after the launch of Ahmedabad’s Atal Foot-over bridge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to launch the new naval ensign (flag) on September 2 for the Indian Navy. The program will be held in Kochi. The unveiling is on the sidelines of the commissioning of INS Vikrant- India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier.

Read on to know the significance of the new naval ensign and the role of the Saint George’s Cross on the old ensign.


The Need Of The New Naval Ensign

PM Narendra Modi will be unveiling the new naval ensign soon in Kochi, and it becomes imperative to know the need for a new naval ensign in the first place. 

The present ensign demonstrating the Saint George’s Cross with the Tricolor in its top left corner is actually a successor to the Indian Navy’s pre-Independence ensign. The pre-Independence ensign carried the red George’s Cross on a white background. It also had the Union Jack of the United Kingdom on the top left corner.


The History

Even after Indian Independence from colonial rule on August 15, 1947, the country’s defense forces carried on with the British colonial badges and flags for a few years. On January 26, 1950, a changeover to Indianized pattern on the flag and badges was made.


The Navy flags and badges were modified, however, the new pattern only replaced the Union Jack with the Indian Tricolor. The George’s Cross was untouched. 


When All In History Has The Indian Naval Ensign Experienced A Change?


It was in 2001 when a similar change was made to the Naval ensign. It was during this time that the George’s Cross was removed and the naval crest was added in place of it. The naval crest was placed in the middle of the white flag, along with the Tricolor retaining its position in the top left corner. The demand to make changes in the Indian Navy ensign first came from Vice Admiral VEC Barboza. The man retired as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy.


A few years later, i.e. in 2004, the ensign saw a change again, this time coming back to the original Red George’s Cross. The reason for this change was the piling concerns and complaints that the blue color of the Navy crest merged with the skies and the sea, making the flag indistinguishable. Thus, a modification was made to bring back the red George’s Cross, with the twist of the state emblem of Ashoka in the center.


The story doesn’t end here. Again, in 2014, the ensign changed again. This time the words, “Satyamev Jayate '' were added to the design below the Ashoka emblem. This script was written in the Devanagari script.


Significance Of The Saint George Cross

The Saint George’s Cross is depicted as the red cross on white background. The cross is named after a Christian Warrior Saint. The Saint is believed to have been a crusader in the third crusade.


Not to miss, the cross is an important part of England’s flag. The flag was adopted by London and England in 1190, in order to identify English ships entering the Mediterranean.


The Royal Navy thus incorporated the George’s Cross for their ships in multiple shapes and forms. The recent style of the British White Ensign was therefore adopted in 1707.


Is India The Only Country That Discarded George’s Cross In The Naval Ensign?

No. Almost all Commonwealth countries kept the Red George’s Cross during the time of their independence. However, many have done away with the Cross on their naval ensigns.

Some of the countries that have done away with the Red George’s Cross are New Zealand, Canada, and Australia.


In the year 2013, the Royal Canadian adopted a design having the Canadian naval crest on a white background and the Canadian flag in the top left corner.


In 1967, the Australian navy modified its ensign. It now shows a Union Jack along with six blue stars positioned, just as it is in the Australian flag.


1968, the New Zealand navy too did away with the Red Cross. The country changed the ensign to a white flag having the Union Jack in the top left corner along with the four red stars.


Pakistan navy ensign has its naval crest on it. Bangladesh's navy flag is white in color and has the national flag of the country in the top left corner.


The South African ensign shows a green cross and not the Red George Cross.


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