Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh is one of India’s most iconic writers and journalists, known for his sharp wit, political commentary, and literary contributions. Born in Hadali, Punjab, British India (now in Pakistan) on February 2, 1915, Singh led a remarkable life, marked by his literary achievements, political commentary, and public service.

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Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh is one of India’s most iconic writers and journalists, known for his sharp wit, political commentary, and literary contributions. Born in Hadali, Punjab, British India (now in Pakistan) on February 2, 1915, Singh led a remarkable life, marked by his literary achievements, political commentary, and public service.

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Early Life

Khushwant Singh, originally christened Khushal Singh by his grandmother, was born on February 2, 1915, in Hadali, Khushab District, Punjab. Today, this region is part of Pakistan. He belonged to a Sikh family, with his father, Sir Sobha Singh, being a notable builder in Lutyens’ Delhi, and his uncle, Sardar Ujjal Singh, serving as the Governor of Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

Despite the lack of official birth records, Singh’s father selected his birth date for school registration purposes. However, Singh’s grandmother insisted that he was born in August, leading him to later choose August 15 as his birthday. The name Khushwant, meaning “Prosperous Lion,” was his own choice, intended to rhyme with his elder brother Bhagwant’s name.

Singh’s educational journey began at Modern School, New Delhi, where he spent ten years. It was here he met his future wife, Kanwal Malik. He later studied at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and Government College, Lahore. He earned his LL.B. from the University of London after studying at King’s College London.

Personal Life

Khushwant Singh’s personal life was marked by an enduring love story with his childhood friend, Kanwal Malik. The pair reconnected during Singh’s law studies in London and were soon married in a small ceremony in Delhi. Together, they had two children, Rahul and Mala. Kanwal predeceased Singh in 2001.

In addition to his immediate family, Singh had a few notable relations, including his niece, actress Amrita Singh, and his grandniece, TV and film actress Tisca Chopra.

Professional Life

Singh’s professional career was as multifaceted as it was influential. Initially, he served as a lawyer in Lahore High Court for eight years, a tenure that brought him into contact with some of his lifelong friends and fans. Following the Independence of India in 1947, Singh joined the Indian Foreign Service, which led him to roles as a journalist for All India Radio and the Department of Mass Communications of UNESCO in Paris.

However, it was his work as an editor that truly cemented his place in India’s literary scene. He edited several literary and news magazines, including Yojana, The Illustrated Weekly of India, and The National Herald. His editorial stint at The Illustrated Weekly of India was particularly impactful, raising its circulation from 65,000 to 400,000.

From 1980 to 1986, Singh also served as a Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.

Awards and Recognitions

Khushwant Singh’s contributions to literature and public service were recognized with several awards. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974, but returned it a decade later in protest against Operation Blue Star. In 2007, he was honored with the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in India. Furthermore, his name was included in the Limca Book of Records in 2016 as a tribute to his immense contribution to Indian literature and journalism.

Age

At the time of his death on March 20, 2014, Singh was 99 years old.

Salary

Information about Khushwant Singh’s salary during his lifetime is not readily available.

Parents’ Name and Family

Khushwant Singh was born to Sir Sobha Singh and Veeran Bai. His father was a prominent builder, and his uncle, Sardar Ujjal Singh, was a former Governor of Punjab and Tamil Nadu. Singh’s brother, Daljit Singh, was a Delhi MLA.

Latest News 

Khushwant Singh’s Perspective: Unveiling the Dark Chapter of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency

Renowned author and editor Khushwant Singh, known for his book “Truth, Love, and a Little Malice,” sheds light on the imposition of Emergency in India during the Indira Gandhi era. Singh, with his close ties to the Gandhi family, provides a comprehensive account of the events leading to the declaration. He reveals that it was Siddharth Shankar Rai, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who convinced Indira Gandhi not to resign as Prime Minister. Rai suggested that an internal emergency was the only solution, leading to late-night approval from President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. The clandestine nature of the plan even necessitated backdated signatures from the cabinet ministers the next day.

Singh highlights the subsequent actions taken by Indira Gandhi, such as imprisoning opposition leaders, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, and banning the RSS due to its perceived allegiance with the opposition. Media censorship was enforced, with only Ramnath Goenka’s Indian Express demonstrating defiance. Singh commends the newspaper for fearlessly challenging the government’s control, resulting in retaliatory measures such as power cuts and reduced newsprint quotas.

Singh also discusses the controversial forced sterilization campaign led by Indira’s son, Sanjay Gandhi, during the Emergency. This period of 21 months witnessed a suspension of elections, curtailment of civil liberties, and an atmosphere of oppression that evoked public outcry. Recognizing the growing dissent, Indira Gandhi recommended dissolving the Lok Sabha and holding fresh elections in 1977. The public seized this opportunity to exact their revenge, as Gandhi herself lost the election in Rae Bareilly, the Gandhi family stronghold, leading to the ascension of the Janata Party and Morarji Desai as the Prime Minister.

From Singh’s perspective, the imposition of the Emergency remains a dark chapter in Indian history, characterized by authoritarianism, curtailed freedoms, and widespread public suffering. His insights offer valuable perspectives on this period, revealing the consequences of unchecked power and the subsequent triumph of democracy.

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