Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

National Anthem born in exile


Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose came to Germany in April 1941 and setup the Free India Centre. A group of Germans, namely Dr.Adam von Trott zu Solz, Dr Alexander Werth, Dr Lothar Frank and several others, who were known to him and were friendly towards India, came forward to help him. Soon thereafter, "The Indian Legion "- an army in exile - was formed under his leadership. The legion comprised of more than 4000 POWs - Indian officers and soldiers of the British Indian Army who were taken captive by Rommel's army in North Africa. The Free India Centre, which was the predecessor of the Azad Hind Government (Provisional Government of Free India) setup by Netaji on 21 October, 1943 in Singapore, was given proper recognition by Germany, ltaly and later on Japan and had diplomatic ties with them.

The Free India Centre also had a Flag, which was similar to the present day Indian Tri-colour but with a Springing Tiger in the middle. Netaji also introduced "Jai Hind" as an lndian form of addressing each other. The only thing missing was a "National Anthem". Netaji called a meeting and discussed several options and ultimately decided that "Jana Gana Mana" should be the National Anthem of Free India.
There were no notations available, so Dr Ambik Majumdar, who was well-versed in musical notations, adapted the notations to the song and another lndian, Dr Mukherjee played it on the piano for Netaji's approval. The final version was then given to Dr Eigel Kruettge, the Conductor of the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg, who made some minor changes to the notation for the orchestra. This is the version that is valid today.

On the 11th of September 1942, the Indo-German Association was founded at the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg in the presence of Netaji, the Lord Mayor of Hamburg, representatives of the German government, diplomats and well-known personalities. On this occasion, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg played the National Anthems of Germany and the Free India Centre. This was the birth of Jana Gana Mana as the National Anthem of independent India. Mr N.G.Ganpulay, a close associate of Netaji and an active member of the Free lndia Centre, recorded the performance on tape. After his death, this tape was handed over to All India Radio, which broadcast a programme in 1980 called "National Anthem born in Exile".

Jana Gana Mana was taken over as the National Anthem by the Azad Hind Government (Provisional Government of Free India) on 21st October 1943. When India became independent on 15th August 1947 there was no National Anthem. Early in January 1950, a delegation from India attended the UN General Assembly in New York. One of the members of the delegation carried a record of Jana Gana Mana, which was produced in Singapore. He handed this record over to the UN Orchestra, which then played Jana Gana Mana along with the National Anthems of other participating countries. This was very much appreciated by all those who were present. The delegation came back to India in the 3rd week of January and reported to Jawaharlal Nehru and his cabinet colleagues that Jana Gana Mana was played at the United Nations and was highly appreciated by all those present. As 26th January was approaching fast and no alternative National Anthem had been found, it was decided that Jana Gana Mana should be taken over as the National Anthem on 26th January 1950.

Author: 
Chandra Kumar Bose