Khushwant Singh Biography, Novelist, Lawyer, Politician

Khushwant Singh was an Indian novelist, journalist, and a lawyer. He was a man of many talents and served the Indian legal system, Indian journalism and literature all with equal passion and hard work.

He was a well learned man and studied from various institutes like Modern School, New Delhi, Government College of Lahore, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and King’s College London. He set his foot in his professional life by starting out as a lawyer but soon he turned to Indian Foreign Service.

Served that for a few years and later he found his place in mass communication and journalism. He was the editor of many reputed newspapers and magazines like, The Illustrated Weekly of India, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times.

Singh was more known for his writing and Indian literature is lucky to have received works like ‘Train to Pakistan’ (1956), ‘Delhi: A Novel’ (1990), ‘The Company of Women’ (1999), ‘Truth, Love and a Little Malice’ (2002), ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous’ (2013), etc. from his side.

For his brilliant service to the Indian society and culture, he was awarded with a Padma Bhushan, but due to his deep contempt for Operation Blue Star, he returned it back to the government.

Childhood & Early Life

Khushwant Singh was born in Hadali, Punjab , which is now a part of Pakistan to Sir Sobha Singh. His father was one of the most prominent builders of his times and used to work in Lutyen’s Delhi.

Singh received his education at Modern School in New Delhi. He also received his higher education from Government College in Lahore and eventually studied at St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi and King’s College in London.

Education

Singh attended New Delhi’s Modern School for his studies. Between 1930 and 1932, he studied Intermediate of Arts from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. He completed his BA from Government College, Lahore in 1934.

To pursue law, he went to King’s College in London and in 1938, he received his LL.B. from the University of London. Brigadier LS Lidder Biography, Family, Wiki, Bio, Daughter & Facts

Political Career

Singh served in the Rajya Sabha, the Indian parliament’s upper house, from 1980 to 1986. He was an outspoken supporter of the Congress Party, particularly during Indira Gandhi’s tenure. When Indira Gandhi declared a state of national emergency, he openly backed it and was mocked as an “establishment liberal”.

The anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination, in which senior Congress politicians are claimed to have been implicated, shattered Singh’s faith in the Indian political system but, he remained steadfastly optimistic in the promise of Indian democracy and worked through the Citizen’s Justice Committee, which was founded by H. S. Phoolka, a senior counsel in the Delhi High Court.

At a time when India didn’t want to offend Arab countries where thousands of Indians worked, Singh was a proponent of improved diplomatic relations with Israel. In the 1970s, he visited Israel and was impressed by its progress.

Khushwant Singh had a habit of rarely changing his mind on people. He had also strongly supported former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his tenure, whom he referred to as “India’s most honest man.” He even went after Manmohan Singh’s opponents, and unexpectedly, Manmohan Singh was the first political leader to express his condolences.

Awards and Honors

  • During his lifetime, Khushwant Singh received numerous awards The Padma Bhushan (which he returned in 1984 in protest against Operation Blue Star), the Punjab Rattan Award (2006), the Padma Vibhushan (2007), the Sahitya Academy Fellowship Award (2010), the Tata Literature Live Award (2013), and the Fellowship of King’s College, London (2014) among them.
  • In 1996, he was honored with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • Sulabh International Social Service Organization awarded him the “Honest Man of the Year Award” in July 2000 for his boldness and integrity in his “brilliant incisive writing”.
  • Panjab University bestowed upon him an honorary D. Litt in 2011.
  • Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, presented him with the All-India Minorities Forum Annual Fellowship Award in 2012.
  • He was also given the Order of Nishaan-e-Khalsa.

Career

Singh first started his career as that of a professional lawyer in 1938. His heart was set on working with the legal system in India and contributing towards it. He dedicatedly worked and gave his best at the Lahore Court for good 8 years.

After India became independent in 1947, he joined the Indian Foreign Services (IFS). He began his stint in IFS by first serving as the Information Officer of the Government of India in Toronto, Canada.

After that, Singh went on to become the Press Attache and Public Officer for the Indian High Commission in London and Ottawa. In 1951, he left the IFS and joined the All India Radio as a journalist.

During the time period 1954-1956, he worked in the Department of Mass Communications of UNESCO in Paris. In 1956, he got into editorial services and started editing a newspaper called Yojana, which was an Indian government journal.

During his nine-year tenure (1969–1978) as editor of the weekly magazine, ‘The Illustrated Weekly’, the circulation of the weekly rose from 65,000 to 400000.

From 1980 to 1983, he was the editor of the newspaper ‘Hindustan Times’. After his stint as editor was over, he continued to write a widely syndicated column, called “With Malice Towards One and All” for the newspaper. The column was quite famous for its dry wit and humor.

From 1980 to 1986, Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. It was during this time that he returned the award as a protest against Operation Blue Star in 1984.

As an author Singh wrote many important and famous books like, Train to Pakistan (1956), Delhi: A Novel (1990), The Company of Women (1999), Truth, Love and a Little Malice (2002), The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous (2013), etc.

Major Works

Even though Singh was a part of many things, from Indian legal system to Indian Foreign Services to Indian journalism to editorial to writing novels, it is his novels that made him renowned all over the world.

His book ‘A History of the Sikhs’ is regarded as the most authoritative work on the Sikh history. Kritika Rawat Bipin Rawat’s Daughter Biography, Family

Personal Life & Legacy

Singh got married to Kawal Malik and had two children with her—Rahul Singh and Mala Singh.

He died on March 20, 2014 in Delhi. He is survived by his children and his death was mourned by President, Vice President and Prime Minister of India.

Trivia

He enjoyed his alcohol used to take a peg of Scotch – single malt, everyday, both in the evening and at dawn. He was a self confessed agnostic and never said his prayers. Tisca Chopra, the famous TV and film personality, is his grandniece.

Controversies in his life

A man’s life is usually filled with tales. Some are well-known, while others are unknown. In the same way, there are many rumours and half-truths that cause controversy in someone’s life. This was also true of Khushwant Singh, a well-known journalist and novelist.

It is alleged that he was frequently criticized for his publications, jokes, and political views throughout his lifetime. The most notable of them all was when he purportedly requested in 2011 that the government honours his father, who had confessed in Bhagat Singh’s trial, and the government afterwards named the Delhi Road after his father, Sir Sobha Singh.

In fact, Khushwant Singh mentioned his father’s role in the construction of the Connaught Palace in Delhi, healthcare facilities, institutions, the pingalwara in Amritsar, and many other structures and trusts in his piece.

According to locals in Delhi, Khushwant’s father was a builder who owned half of the city. Obviously, his father’s contribution to the construction of Delhi could not be forgotten.

Khushwant’s version of his father’s role in Bhagat Singh’s testimony was that he was present in the courtroom when Bhagat Singh and his friend planted explosives, and police detained his father as well.

https://youtu.be/JHw07eqOrms

His father’s job was to find out who was responsible for the explosion in 1929, and his father did the same. However, Malwinder Jit Singh Waraich, who has become the caretaker of records and literature relating to the Ghadar Revolution and the prosecution of revolutionary Bhagat Singh and Bhagat Singh’s relatives, has challenged his claim.

This prominent historian and lawyer, who has written several volumes on the liberation movement and Bhagat Singh, claimed that Khushwant Singh, the journalist-writer, has been striving to persuade people against historical realities unnecessarily.

Due to his father’s evidence against Bhagat Singh, Sikhs resented Khushwant. He was also chastised for supporting ‘Emergency’ as well as his jokes against Sardars. Additionally, his works ‘Gods and Godmen of India’ and ‘Company of Women’ sparked outrage among religious organizations and women’s rights campaigners.

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