Madame Bhikhaji Cama: First Indian to Raise the Tricolor Abroad

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Madame Bhikhaji Cama

If we move down the lanes of history to learn more about the India’s Struggle for freedom, we will come across number of revolutionaries and various acts of bravery associated with them.  They will always be remembered for their supreme contribution to free the motherland.  One such luminary, whose name resonates with patriotism, courage, and resilience, is Madame Bhikhaji Cama. Her life was really interesting as a revolutionary where she strongly supported India’s freedom. So, lets grab this chance to explore her life in detail on her birth anniversary.

Early Life and Education

Born on September 24, 1861, in Bombay (now Mumbai), Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama was the youngest of five children in a Parsi family. Her father, Sorabji Framji Patel, was a prominent lawyer and her mother, Jaijibai Sorabji Patel, hailed from a wealthy and influential family. Bhikhaji was fortunate to enough as her family gave her a good life with education and privilege.

Bhikhaji went to school in Bombay when she was young. Apart from being a brilliant student, she had a really significant inclination towards the betterment of her society. She inculcated this quality of social care from her parents, as they were also involved in important social and political groups. Her dad was in a group called the Bombay Presidency Association, and they worked to make changes in British India’s government.

Revolutionary Stirrings in Madame Bhikhaji Cama

As she grew older, Madame Cama’s passion for the cause of India’s independence began to take shape. She was touched to the bottom of her heart with the miserable condition under the British rule. This worked as a source of motivation that forced her to join the freedom struggle. She met some of the most important people who wanted change during this time, like Dadabhai Naoroji and Dadabhai Nowroji Wadia. They worked to polish her thoughts and attitude towards the politics.

Madame Cama was not content with merely observing from the sidelines. She took active participation in debates and discussions and championed the cause of India’s Independence. Her resolve to see her homeland free from British rule was unwavering.

The British Efforts to Silence Disagreement

It becomes evident when we dive into the late 19th and early 20th century that the British Raj was renowned for quashing any resistance to its control. The Indian National Congress and various other political groups were constantly monitored, making it challenging for those seeking change to voice their opinions freely.

However, Madame Cama stood firmly against such suppression. In order to inform people about her revolutionary ideas she started writing about the same. In 1907, she helped make a magazine called “Bande Mataram.” This magazine was really important because it let people say they didn’t like the British. It also shared books and ideas that helped the fight for India’s freedom.

The Tricolor and International Recognition

One of the most iconic moments in Madame Cama’s life came during the International Socialist Congress held in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1907. It was this place where she became the first Indian to unfurl the Indian flag on foreign soil. This event became a golden moment in the history of India’s Freedom Struggle. The flag featured green, saffron, and red stripes and bore the words “Vande Mataram” in the center.

Madame Bhikhaji Cama holding Indian Flag

This act of defiance against British rule and the proud display of the tricolor sent shockwaves across the world. What she did was very brave because it showed that India’s fight for freedom wasn’t just in India – people everywhere who loved freedom felt the same way. The flag she raised was not just a flag, but it was a representation of entire India. Moreover, it emerged out as a symbol of strong resistance against the British rule. It further made a silent demand of self-rule, which means people governing themselves.

People from all corners of the world, started praising her for the courageous action she performed. It also included freedom fighters and important leaders. They gave her the nickname “The Mother of the Indian Revolution” because she was very dedicated to India’s freedom. She’s like a symbol of never quitting, even when things are hard.

Exile and Continued Activism of Madame Bhikhaji Cama

After her historic flag-raising in Stuttgart, Madame Cama continued her activism on the international stage. However, due to her active involvement with revolutionaries gained attention of British authorities. In 1909, they arrested her in London, but she was later released on bail. Fearing more trouble from the British, she decided to live in exile in Europe, mainly in France.

While in exile, Madame Cama didn’t stop working hard for India’s independence. Along with Shyamji Krishna Varma and other Indian nationalists, she maintained contact with the revolutionaries in her country. Her Parisian residence became a center of anti-British beliefs and a center of meeting for Indian nationalists.

She even went to international meetings where she passionately talked about India’s need for independence and showed the world the wrong things the British were doing in India. Her speeches were so appealing that it even earned the support of people from different countries. And motivated them to step forward and help India.

Later Years of Madame Bhikhaji Cama

In 1935, Madame Cama moved to Bombay where she lived the remainder of her life as her health started to decline in the 1930s. But even her deteriorating health could not stop her from inspiring and supporting the independence struggle. On August 13, 1936, Madame Bhikhaji Cama passed away, leaving behind a legacy of unwavering commitment to the cause of Indian independence. Through her actions she has earned a position in the history. And she will continue to motivate freedom fighters from different part of the world and generations yet to come.

Legacy and Recognition

Madame Cama’s contributions to the Indian independence movement have not been forgotten. Because she was very brave and committed to the cause, people in India respect her a lot. There are number of institutions and awards named after her. All this reminds us about her dedication towards the nation.

In 1962, the Indian government issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor. In 1997, the Indian Coast Guard named a patrol vessel “ICGS Bikhaiji Cama” as a tribute to her pioneering role in hoisting the Indian flag abroad. She continues to inspire individuals and organizations who aim to work for the social justice, women’s right and many more causes.


Madame Bhikhaji Cama’s life showed us how strong and determined she was in wanting India to be free. When she raised the flag in Germany, it meant a great deal to a country that wanted to be on its own. As we celebrate Madame Cama’s birthday, we should also remember what she believed in. Her life which has become a synonym of fight for equality, justice and freedom.  It also tries to imbibe us an attitude of never giving up. Future generations will always be inspired by the life of Madame Bhikhaji Cama.

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