National Anthem ‘Adhinayaka’ debate: It’s not about King George – Ram Puniyani

TagoreThe debate about our national anthem is a ceaseless one — the ones related to undermining Jana Gana Mana and pushing forward Vande Matram, so to say. To undermine the Jana Gana Mana time and again, questions have been raised about its having been written in praise of George V, the king of England. This issue was brought up once again by Kalyan Singh on July 7, while speaking at a function organised by Rajasthan University. Singh, who was the Uttar Pradesh chief minister when the Babri Masjid was demolished despite his undertaking to the National Integration Council that the mosque will be protected, has a BJP background. He said that the word “adhinayak” in the national anthem refers to the foreign power, so it should be replaced by Jana Gana Mangal Gaye. This is a totally distorted understanding of the events as they took place. Singh, while asking for this amendment, also says that though he respects Rabindranath Tagore, this change is needed in the anthem. Surely what he is demanding is unwarranted. The perception that Jana Gana Mana was written in praise of George V is based on media reports of the time, which were not very accurate. The media in the early 20th century was pro-British and was not too familiar with local languages. Hence the follies and sloppiness in reporting.

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