Mumbai: Even though India attained independence August 15, 1947, the country was undecided on its official national anthem on the auspicious day, an archived letter made public in Mumbai on Saturday has indicated.
The current national anthem, 'Jana Gana Mana', penned by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, was adopted and accorded the status only much later, by the Constituent Assembly Jan 24, 1950.
A few days prior to Indian independence, many district collectors of the erstwhile Bombay state (now, divided into Maharashtra and Gujarat), had written to the then chief secretary on this issue.
They sought directions on whether they should still allow the singing of the British national anthem, 'God Save the King' as India's national anthem on the dawn of country's independence Aug 15, 1947.
Replying to the ticklish historic query, the chief secretary informed all collectorates by an 'express letter' Aug 11, 1947, barring the singing of 'God Save the King'.
"In connection with the celebrations of the 'Independence Day', all collectors are informed that 'God Save the King' should not be played or sung on the 15th August and that there will no objection to 'Vande Mataram' being played or sung if so desired," the communique dated Aug 11, 1947 said.
"Orders regarding the new national anthem will be issued in due course," said the communique, signed by an official, J. Chaves, on behalf of the chief secretary to the Government of Bombay, Political and Services Department.
However, there is no clarity on what was sung officially at the Independence Day celebrations Aug 15, 1947, 1948, and 1949.
In January 1950, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted 'Jana Gana Mana' -- penned by Tagore and sung for the first time Dec 27, 1911 -- as the country's official national anthem.
It also adopted the first two verses of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay's 'Vande Mataram', penned in 1882, as India's national song.
The historical details are now available for public viewing at the newly-created Raj Bhavan Archives, an initiative of Governor K Sankaranarayanan, which was thrown open to the public from Saturday.
A Raj Bhavan official said that so far 5,000 files and 100,000 documents from the period between 1929 and 1991, which could throw light on many historical state and national events, have been classified and numbered.