Who composed the score for Jana Gana Mana? Gurudev or the Gorkha?
A controversy swirls around the claim by a freedom fighter
that he, and not Rabindranath Tagore, wrote the score for the national anthem.
Captain Ram Singh, an associate of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, claims he composed the score of
Jana Gana Mana, the lyrics of which were written by Gurudev Tagore.
Captain Singh claims he composed
the score for Jana Gana Mana, at Netaji's behest. It is widely believed
that Tagore -- a renaissance man if there was one -- set
his lyrics to music.
Head of the Indian National Army's music
division, Captain Singh is best known for his rousing classic, Qadam qadam barhai
ja khushi ke geet gai ja. He says it was Netaji who decided to
make Jana Gana Mana India's national
anthem and asked him to compose an appropriate score
Several Bengali figures
have taken strong exception to Singh's claim. A member of
Vishwabharti, the university established by Tagore, even demanded that the government
initiate action against Captain Singh.
Now in his eighties, the composer lived in comparative obscurity in Lucknow
until an advertisement released in Calcutta newspapers by the Gorkha Hill Council
to mark the Netaji centenary on January 23 plunged him into controversy.
The advertisement hailed him as the Gorkha who set the
national anthem to music. In subsequent newspaper interviews, Captain Singh has
proudly reiterated the claim.
Suvinay Rai, an exponent of Rabindra Sangeet for nearly half a century,
says he has never heard of such a claim before Rai claims
that composing the score of the national anthem is beyond the
abilities of a Gorkha soldier since it required a great knowledge of
Netaji's nephew, Dr Sisir Bose, says Captain Singh had composed the
score of a Hindi song,
Sukh chain ki varsha barse bharat bhagya hai jaga,
similar to the national anthem. Dr Bose says
the song was composed because Netaji wanted
to make Jana Gana Mana a martial tune, that
INA soldiers could march to, like Qadam barhai ja.
Had the INA been successful in battle, Dr Bose said Captain Singh's composition
would have been adopted as the national anthem.
An anguished Captain Singh has now written a
letter to President Shankar Dayal Sharma, who is also the supreme
commander of the armed forces. Captain Singh says
that his contribution in composing the score of the national anthem is being
refuted just because he is a Gorkha. 'Perhaps,' he said, 'these people believe that a
Gorkha can only defend the borders of the country, he should not be
fool enough to rush into composing music.'