Birthday: February 2, 1915
Died At Age: 84
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Born in: Hadali, British India (now in Khushab District, Punjab, Pakistan)
Famous as: Novelist, Lawyer, Journalist & Politician
Quotes By Khushwant Singh
Spouse/Ex-: Kawal Malik
father: Sir Sobha Singh
children: Mala Singh, Rahul Singh
Died on: March 20, 1999
awards: Padma Bhushan (1974)
Punjab Rattan Award (2006)
Padma Vibhushan (2007)
Who was Khushwant Singh?
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.
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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.
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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.
Awards & Achievements
Khushwant Singh was awarded with a lot of accolades in his lifetime. These include: Padma Bhushan in1974 ( he returned it in 1984 in protest against the Operation Blue Star), Punjab Rattan Award (2006), Padma Vibhushan (2007), Sahitya academy fellowship award, (2010), Tata Literature Live! Award (2013), Fellowship of King’s College, London (2014).
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.
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.