Fifty years of the national flag of Bangladesh


Anwar A Khan

The national flag of Bangladesh was adopted officially on 17 January 1972. It consists of a red disc on top of a dark green banner. The red disc is offset slightly toward the hoist so that it appears centered when the flag is flying. The disc represents the sun rising over Bengal, and also the blood of those who died for the Independence of Bangladesh. The green banner stands for the lushness of the land of Bangladesh and the eternal youth of Bangladesh’s people.

The flag is based on a similar flag used during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which had a yellow map of the country inside the red disc. In 1972 this map was removed from the flag. One reason given was the difficulty for rendering the map correctly on both sides of the flag. The civil ensign and naval ensign place it in the canton of a red or white field, respectively.

The first version of the flag was designed and made by a section of student leaders and activists of Swadheen Bangla Nucleus on 6 June 1970, at room 108 of Iqbal Hall (now Sergeant Zahurul Haq hall), Dhaka University; students involved with the design were namely Kazi Aref Ahmed, ASM Abdur Rab, Shahjahan Siraj, Manirul Islam (Marshal Moni), Swapan Kumar Choudhury, Quamrul Alam Khan Khasru, Hasanul Haq Inu, and Yousuf Salahuddin Ahmed. The flag was made from clothes donated by Bazlur Rahman Lasker, the owner of Apollo Tailors, Dhaka New Market.

A map of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was first traced on a tracing paper from an atlas by Hasanul Haq Inu, Yousuf Salahuddin Ahmed and Enamul Haq, at Enamul's room (312) in Quaid-I Azam Hall (now Sher-E-Bangla Hall), EPUET (now BUET). Later the map was painted in the red circle by Shib Narayan Das. On 2 March 1971, this initial version of the flag was hoisted in Bangladesh for the first time at Dhaka University, by student leader A. S. M. Abdur Rab, the then Vice President of Dhaka University Students' Union (DUCSU). The flag was conceived so as to exclude the star and crescent considered as symbols of West Pakistan (now Pakistan).

According to CIA World Fact Book, the green used in the flag represents the lushness of the green landscape of the country. On 13 January 1972 the flag was modified. The map from the center was removed, and the red disk moved towards the hoist. The red in the center is a symbolic representation of the blood Bengalis shed in the Bangladesh Liberation War.

According to Bangladeshi government specifications, following is the specification of the national flag:

The flag will be in bottle green and rectangular in size in the proportion of length to width of 10:6, with a red circle in near middle.

The red circle will have a radius of one-fifth of the length of the flag. Its centre will be placed on the intersecting point of the perpendicular drawn from the nine-twentieth part of the length of the flag, and the horizontal line drawn through the middle of its width.

The green base of the flag will be of Procyon Brilliant Green H-2RS 50 parts per 1000. The red circular part will be of Procyon Brilliant Orange H-2RS 60 parts per 1000.

Depending on the size of the building the flag sizes will be 10 ft × 6 ft (3.0 m × 1.8 m); 5 ft × 3 ft (1.52 m × 0.91 m); 2 1⁄2 ft × 1 1⁄2 ft (760 mm × 460 mm). The size of the flag for cars is 12 1⁄2 in × 7 1⁄2 in (320 mm × 190 mm), and the size of the table flag for bilateral conferences is 10 in × 6 in (250 mm × 150 mm).

Dhaka University campus, where the flag was raised for the first time on 2 March 1971.

The national flag of Bangladesh is flown on all working days on important government buildings and offices, e.g., the president house, legislative assembly buildings, etc. All ministries and the secretariat buildings of Bangladesh, offices of the high court, courts of district and session judges, offices of the commissioners of divisions, deputy commissioner/collectors, chairman, upazila parishad, central and district jails, police stations, primary, secondary and higher secondary level educational institutions and other buildings notified by the government from time to time. 

Ministers of state and persons accorded the status of a minister of state, deputy ministers and persons accorded the status of a deputy minister while on tour outside the capital within the country or abroad are entitled to fly the flag on their motor vehicles and vessels.

The national flag of Bangladesh is flown on public and private buildings throughout Bangladesh and the office premises of Bangladeshi diplomatic missions and consular posts on the following days and occasions: Independence Day on 26 March, Victory Day on 16 December, and any other day notified by the Government of Bangladesh.

The national flag of Bangladesh is flown at half-mast on the following days:

National Shaheed Day, now the International Mother Language Day, on 21 February; and all other days notified by the Government of Bangladesh.

The following days are notified by the government: National Mourning Day of Bangladesh on 15 August.

On 16 December 2013, the 42nd Victory Day of Bangladesh, 27,117 people gathered at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar and created a "human flag" which was recorded in Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest human national flag. 

Thanks to its long wavelength, red is one of the most visible colours in the colour spectrum (second only to yellow). Its ability to instantly grab people's attention is the reason why it's often used to warn people of impending danger. Think: stop signs, sirens, fire engines, and red traffic lights.

Red is also used to convey danger in a non-literal way. Some examples include using the phrase "in the red" to describe financial loss or "red flag" to indicate when something is wrong with a person or situation.

People tend to associate red with negative, danger-bearing emotions. This could be because it is the colour of fire, blood, and sometimes of poisonous or dangerous animals. This stimulating colour is also associated with excitement.

But red does not always signal danger and aggression. Perhaps not surprisingly, red is also linked to passion, love, and desire. These associations could explain why people wearing red are consistently rated as more attractive by the opposite sex.

Red can also represent power, a relationship that can be found all over modern-day society. The "power tie" worn by businessmen across the globe is, traditionally, red. And don't forget the hallowed "red carpet" that is only rolled out for the most prestigious celebrities and dignitaries.

Where do you look to find the meaning of green? Is it in the pale yellow-green of newly sprouted blade of grass? Can it be found in the dazzling sparkle of an emerald? Or does green’s meaning reside in the aromatic depth of a drizzly pine forest? Green inspires and vitalizes us in all its hues.

Green with envy. Love is evergreen. It’s not easy being green.

Green is everywhere. It’s the most common colour in the natural world, and it’s second only to blue as the most common favorite colour. It’s the colour we associate with money, the environment, and aliens, and it’s the colour of revitalization and rebirth. Green is calming, stress-relieving, and–a bit paradoxically–invigorating.

We associate green with vitality, fresh growth, and wealth. We generally think of it as a balanced, healthy, and youthful. We use green in design for spaces intended to foster creativity and productivity, and we associate green with progress–think about giving a project the "green light.”

The colour meaning of green is vitality, freshness, growth, wealth, balance, health, and youthfulness.

There are more shades of green than any other colour. The inability to distinguish between red and green is the most common form of colour blindness.

Such is the national flag of Bangladesh -- the green being the field and the red being the blood.


Anwar A Khan is an independent political analyst who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs