The “birth” of the national anthem

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On September 11, 1942, our national anthem “Jana Gana Mana” was performed for the first time as a national anthem. It was performed at the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg.

Calling it the birth of the national anthem, author Anuj Dhar, who shared the original 1942 recording of the anthem, wrote, “Original recording of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ performed by the Symphony Orchestra of the radio from Hamburg, Germany, 1942. It was the birth of our national anthem, thanks to #Netaji. Anuj Dhar is the author of the book “Subhas Bose’s Afterlife” and has done extensive research on Netaji’s life.

Surya Kumar Bose, Netaji’s great-nephew, who lives in Germany, also played the original tape in front of several journalists in 2008. He said: “Few people know how the national anthem was born. Netaji is said to have initiated the formation of the Indo-German Association which was formed on September 11, 1942 at the Atlantic Hotel in Hamburg. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Mayor of Hamburg, and representatives of the German government, among others, were present for the occasion.

The Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra played the national anthem “Jana Gana Mana” as the anthem of the Free-India Center together with the national anthem of Germany. Free-India Center has been duly recognized by countries like Germany and Italy. Free-India Center was the predecessor of Azad Hind Fauj, established by Netaji in 1943 in Singapore.

The performance was tape recorded by NG Ganpulay, a member of the Free-India Centre. The tape was given to All India Radio after Ganpulay’s death. It was aired by All India Radio in a show called “National Anthem born in Exile” in 1980.

Notably, when India gained independence, it did not have a national anthem. In January 1950, a recording of Jana Gana Mana produced by the Azad Hind government was carried by a member of the Indian delegation attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He presented the disc to the United Nations Orchestra which played the anthem.

When the delegation returned to India, they informed then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru that ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was highly regarded in the UN. Later, on January 24, 1950, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the first stanza of the song Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata written by Rabindra Nath Tagore as the national anthem. It should be noted that although it was only the national anthem in January 1950, it was unanimously sung by members of the Indian Constituent Assembly on the night of August 14-15, 1947, after the end of the first session of the Assembly.

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