Indian anthem Jana Gana Mana turns 100

Exactly 100 years ago ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was first sung in Calcutta (Kolkata). ‘Gurudev’ Rabindra Nath Tagore’s song was first performed on December 27, 1911, at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress, which was then a national movement against British rule, not a political party. It was written in Sanskritized Bengali.

Jana Gana Mana was selected as the national anthem of India in 1950 after considerable debate, overruled Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s popular Bengali song Vande Mataram in the face of Muslim opposition.

Jana Gana Mana has seen millions on their feet, standing to reverential attention, every time it is played. We used to sing this song daily in our school.

Rabindra Nath Tagore is the only individual in the world credited with the national anthem for two nations, the other being ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ that was adopted by Bangladesh. He is the first Asian to get Nobel Prize in 1913 for Literature. Inspired by Tagore, his student Ananda Samarakoon wrote and composed the Sri Lankan anthem in 1939-40. It was adopted as the island nation’s anthem around 1952, though political turmoil has seen it altered over the years.

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