On this day in 1911, the Indian national anthem (‘Jana Gana Mana’) was first sung in the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress. The song was written by Rabindranath Tagore, who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. The anthem was first sung a few days before King George V was to arrive in India, and some reporters erroneously claimed it was a tribute to him, rather than a celebration of India. ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was officially adopted as the Indian national anthem on January 24th 1950.
A national anthem has always been forefront in establishing a national identity. Be it La Marseillaise, Deutschland Uber Alles or Jana Gana Mana, national anthems unite people around a common identity. Whilst it took another 36 years for India to achieve independence, Indian nationalism has much older roots.