“Jana Gana Mana” was not written by Rabindranath Tagore as an ode to British King George V

Claim

Rabindranath Tagore wrote the National Anthem to honour King George V. George V was the Chairman of the Nobel Committee when Tagore got the Nobel prize in 1913.

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Explanation

In a video, the late social activist Rajiv Dixit asserts that Rabindranath Tagore should have won a Nobel Prize for writing the “Jana Gana Mana” anthem, which he wrote in honor of King George V. According to the post, when Rabindranath Tagore won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature, George V chaired the committee that chose the winner. In the extended version of the video, Rajiv Dixit claims that Rabindranath Tagore composed the song “Jana Gana Mana” to greet King George V when he came to India in December 1911.

What’s the truth?

The song “Jana Gana Mana” by Rabindranath Tagore was performed in public during the 26th annual national convention of the Indian National Congress, which took place in Calcutta from December 26 to 28, 1911. Following that, the song was involved in controversy, with some claiming it was written for a durbar in Delhi honoring British King George V. This debate continues to come up, even today.

We obtained a report from the BBC as we began our probe into the national anthem controversy. According to the report, under the subtitle “Unbounded stupidity” it’s written as “Controversy shadowed Jana Gana Mana from the day of its first rendition in 1911 at the Congress session in Calcutta.

King George V was scheduled to arrive in the city on December 30, and a section of the Anglo-Indian English press in Calcutta thought and duly reported that Tagore’s anthem was a homage to the emperor. The poet rebutted such claims in a letter written in 1939: “I should only insult myself if I cared to answer those who consider me capable of such unbounded stupidity.”

When we advanced our search, we came upon an article in The Indian Express dated July 2015 that addressed the concerns expressed about Rabindranath Tagore writing “Jana Gana Mana” in honor of George V, and the claim that the word “Adhinayak” in the anthem alludes to the foreign power.

The article claims that false reports from the English media at the time support the theory that the song “Jana Gana Mana” was written as an homage to George V. Numerous other news sources have also covered the same story; they can be seen here and here.

In letters dated 1937 and 1939, Rabindranath Tagore is said to have denied writing or composing the song “Jana Gana Mana,” which praises King George V. He also claimed that the word “Adhinayaka” in the song does not refer to the king.

We acquired the book “Our National Songs” which provides additional information regarding the Rabindranath Tagore-composed Indian National Anthem. The Nobel Prize website revealed to us that Thomas Sturge S Moore, an English member of the Royal Society of Literature, had nominated Tagore for the award.

Additionally, we discovered that when Rabindranath Tagore was given the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, Harald Gabriel Hjärne was the chairman of the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee. You can view the speech that Harald Hjärne gave on December 10, 1913, during the Nobel Prize presentation to Rabindranath Tagore, here.

All of this information implies that George V was not the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee Chairman in 1913, the year Rabindranath Tagore received the Nobel Prize.

Conclusion:

In summary, George V was not the Chairman of the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee when Rabindranath Tagore received the Nobel Prize in 1913, nor did Tagore compose the song “Jana Gana Mana” in his honor.

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Indu Meenakshi

Indu Meenakshi is a former Microbiologist-turned-journalist, works as a Sub-Editor at YouTurn. She additionally holds Master’s in Management and English Literature. As a fact-checker, her job entails actively dispelling false information found online, exposing fake news, and raising public awareness.
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