Captain Ram Singh Thakuri (Nepali: कप्तान राम सिहँ ठकुरी 15 August 1914 – 15 April 2002) was an Indian freedom fighter, musician and composer of Nepali origin.He also composed, while serving in the Indian National Army a number of patriotic songs including Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja and Subh Sukh Chain.
Later in life, Captain Singh worked for the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Arms Constabulary (PAC) and founded the Constabulary band.
Ram Singh was born in the North Indian Village of Khanyara, near Dharamsala from Nepali parents on 15 August 1914. He was born in Thakuri family who were ruling royals of Nepal until 2008. As the son of a Nepalis Gurkha serviceman, Singh was encouraged to enroll in the army. After completing school in 1922, Singh joined the 1st Gorkha Rifles as a recruit in the band. From early childhood, he had an interest in music, which was encouraged by his grandfather, Jamni Chand, who migrated from Munakot village in Pithoragarh district of Kumaon hills, Uttarakhand in 1890.
In the Army, Singh combined his love for music along with his service. He trained in classical and western music as well as ballad, brass band, string band and dance band.
Singh earned the King George VI medal while serving in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa between 1937 and 1939. Promoted in 1941 to Company Havildar Major, he was sent to Singapore and Malaya with his unit during World War II.
After the Fall of Singapore, the Japanese forces took a large number of PoWs. Of these, a large number volunteered to join the Indian National Army. Singh, who had initially not volunteered, was sent to Japan, where he met Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Singh later joined the Indian National Army as it was reorganised under the leadership of Bose. Subhas Chandra Bose was instrumental in tapping the talent of Captain Ram Singh as a dedicated music director. On his personal request, Singh composed the tunes for Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja, the INA’s marching song and now a noted patriotic song from India. He also composed the tune for Subh Sukh Chain (or the Qaumi Tarana as it was known), the National Anthem to be adopted by Azad Hind. In 1944, Capt. Ram Singh was decorated by Subhas Chandra Bose for his contributions. Singh also received a violin and a saxophone as gifts from Bose.
After the end of the war, as the INA surrendered in Rangoon, Singh was shipped back to India with his fellow soldiers. Imprisoned at the Kabul Lines of the Delhi Cantonment, Singh was released later as most of the INA troops were released without charge. Singh and members of his orchestra band were invited to play the National Anthem on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s inaugural address to the nation at the Red Fort.
Ram Singh was recruited in the 3rd Battalion PAC at Lucknow Uttar Pradesh in 1948 by Shri Jagdish Prasad Bajpai and later was promoted as the Band Master in the Rank of Inspector. Thakur retired in 1974. Upon retirement he was accorded the honorary rank of DSP. He was known as “DSP Band UP Police” at the time of his retirement. He was honoured by the Central Government, as well as the Governments of Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim.
Captain Singh’s final years were difficult and controversial, for which the Government drew much criticism. He was initially denied the status of a freedom fighter by the government, while the State government of Uttar Pradesh later faced contempt proceedings for withholding the corresponding payment although the amount in question was meager. A controversial court petition at one point sought to establish that he was not the composer of the National Anthem.
Captain Singh suffered an epilepsy attack in 2001, and after suffering ill health for nearly a year, died on 15 April 2002. He was cremated with State honours at Bhaisakund. However the State Government of Uttar Pradesh was again criticised for the absence of notable or prominent Government officials save a few police officers.