Assam pays tribute to INA’s ‘Singing Soldier’ composer of National Anthem's tune
Floral tribue on 108th Birth Anniversary of Capt. Ram Singh Thakuri composer of tune of national anthem

Golaghat: India’s 76th Independence Day was celebrated with the spirit of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ throughout the nation. Amid the fervour of countrywide celebrations, a small village in Assam’s Golaghat district known for its organic revolution in the region of Padumpathar paid a rich floral tribute to the Indian National Army (INA)’s ‘Singing Soldier’ composer of the tune of India’s National Anthem Jana Gana Mana.  

Very few are born to leave an impact to bind a nation with music for eternity. Late Capt. Ram Singh Thakuri was one of those god-gifted ones India was fortunate to have during the right era. 

When he was born on August 15, 1914 (coincidently the same day as Independence Day) to a Gorkha family in Khaniara village, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, no one ever imagined that one day 1.35 billion Indians would remain united with his music of Jana Gana ManaKadam Kadam Badeya Jaye and Sare Jahan Se Achha. 

Thakuri was fond of music and dance from early childhood. Though he was expected to become a soldier, he never compromised and pursued his passion for music. If music was the mainstay for thousands of INA members, the man behind it was Capt. Thakuri. In 1943, his composition of the tune for INA’s Quami Tarana was first played to thunderous applause at the Cathay Building in Singapore.

The 108th birth anniversary of Late Capt Thakuri was observed by 22 state units of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) across the country. Several Gorkha organisations of the nation too observed the day together with our 76th Independence Day.

Talking to EastMojo, Prakash Dahal, President of the Assam State BGP said, “The celebration of Capt. Thakuri’s Birth anniversary shouldn’t be limited to the Gorkhas alone. He was the son of the soil and pride of the nation who bound the country with his patriotic tunes. Capt. Thakuri should be given one of the highest civilian awards like the Bharat Ratna or the Padma Vibushan posthumously to honour his role in the freedom struggle movement. Our tributes to our second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on October 2 are shadowed by Gandhi Jayanti. The BGP strongly feels that INA’s ‘Singing Soldier’ should be remembered alongside Independence day.”

Our National Anthem is one of the finest compositions in the world and many credit only Rabindranath Tagore. Though Tagore penned the lyrics, the original tune was composed by Thakuri. It is no wonder that the gifted Capt. Thakuri, a member of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army gave us iconic songs like ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja.’ Singer, composer, conductor and musician, Capt. Thakuri composed many rousing patriotic songs, the inspiration for thousands of INA members.

His music continues to be the soul of Independent India. In 1942-45 Capt. Thakuri composed the music for the INA anthem, “Shubh Sukh Chaina ke Barkha barse (Quami Tarana)” and wrote the lyrics and music for “Kadam Kadam badeya jaye.”

In May 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel suggested that Capt Ram Singh set up an orchestra of musicians (all from INA, e.g. Ganesh Bahadur, Gulab Singh Thapa, Avtar Singh, Ram Saran, Nar Bahadur Thapa) under the supervision of Col Rathuri, Col Sahgal and Col Ahmed. It was named the “All India INA Orchestra.” Patel gave the orchestra a grand sum of Rs 5000 for instruments from Bombay and other expenses. The orchestra went on to travel around the country to fire up national unity through patriotic music and songs with full gusto.

On August 15, 1947, at the Red Fort, Capt Thakuri and his orchestra played the Kaumi Tarana “Subh Sukh” at the flag hoisting ceremony. On this day he played the stirring instrumental version of “Shubh Sukh Chaina ke Barkha barse (Quami Tarana of the INA)” on his violin at the Red Fort.

His entire life was devoted to creating peace and patriotism through music.

According to Gorkha historian Jyoti Thapa Mani, “During his lifetime, ex 2/1 Gorkha Rifles, later INA Capt. Ram Singh Thakuri was denied national recognition for his musical contribution to Indian history. While his music stirred India to national pride, he remained an unsung hero until his demise in 2002. India sang and played Kadam Kadam Badaye Jaye everywhere including at The Beating of the Retreat as part of our Republic Day celebrations, but the composer remains unacknowledged. His letters and pleas remained unanswered causing much anguish to a man whose passion for India was a lifelong obsession, the motivation for his sterling and eternal patriotic music.”

was a lifelong obsession, the motivation for his sterling and eternal patriotic music.”

The gauntlet for his quest for recognition was picked up by the Indian Gorkha community soon after his death. We strove to spread awareness of this great Gorkha. On August 15, 2006, the Capt. Ram Singh Thakuri Memorial Football Tournament was inaugurated in Dharamshala.

Many more events and organisations later, the ‘Singing Soldier’ is now remembered and his service to the nation is recognised.

Capt Ram Singh Thakuri breathed his last on April 15, 2022, at his Mahanagar residence at the age of 87. He was cremated at Bhaisakund, Uttar Pradesh, India with full state honours though no one from the state or union government was present barring a few senior police officers and families of freedom fighters. A few days later the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh expressed profound grief over the death of the veteran freedom fighter.

Organised by the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU) and the Padumpathar Agro Organic Producers Company Limited (PAOPCL), in association with the Upper Assam Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) Independence Day and Capt Thakuri’s birth anniversary were together on August 15, 2022.

The Indian National Flag was hoisted by the President of AAGSU Sarupani Simanta and rich floral tributes were paid.

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