Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the new naval ensign on Friday when he commissioned the first Indian-made naval aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant

A Naval ensign is a flag that naval ships or formations carry to show nationality. The Indian Naval Ensign consisted of St. George’s Cross, a red cross with a white background. 

It was there since the Britishers put it in the pre-independence era, and while former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee removed the cross symbol, between 2001 and 2004, it was brought back by the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA government when it returned to power. 

Here are three quick facts about the Indian Navy’s new ensign. 

Naval ensign picked from among 10 designs 

Officials earlier said that the government chose the naval ensign from among 10 different designs given by naval headquarters. Suggestions ranged from depicting 11 waves on the flag to signify the 11 coastal states in India. 

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There was also a suggestion made to include a sign from India’s ancient navies like the Cholas and Marathas. 

New naval ensign design details 

The new naval ensign has the Indian flag on the upper canton, a blue octagonal shape atop an anchor, along with the national emblem, and the navy’s motto is superimposed on the shield. 

The octagon represents eight directions, showing the navy’s multidirectional reach and multidimensional capacity to operate, while the anchor stands for “steadfastness”. 

The Chhatrapati Shivaji connection

“The octagonal shape with twin golden borders draws inspiration from the seal of the great Indian emperor, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, whose visionary maritime outlook established a credible naval fleet”, the navy said while showcasing the new ensign. 

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The Marathi chief’s fleet consisted of “60 fighting ships and approximately 5,000 men. The rising Maratha naval power during Shivaji Maharaj’s period was the first to secure the coastline against external aggression”, the video continued. 

“Till today the Indian naval flags carried a sign of slavery, which has been replaced with a new one inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj”, PM Modi added.