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Every Indian schoolchild knows - or ought to know that Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), India’s “national poet”, wrote our national anthem Jana gana mana. The song, 52 seconds long in the singing, was first presented by Tagore to a session of the Indian National Congress in Calcutta in 1911; in 1919 it was taken up by Principal James Cousins of the Theosophical College, Madanapalle, in South India, as a college prayer that he called the “Morning Song of India”. The song was debated throughout the 30s and 40s on a variety of occasions, attracting both support and criticism. In January 1950, two days before the promulgation of the Indian Constitution, it was formally adopted by the Constituent Assembly, under the stewardship of President Rajendra Prasad, as free India’s national anthem.


First published in The Caravan, January 2010:

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Asian History Commons



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