Khushwant Singh is one of the best-known Indian writers as well as a diplomat. He was born in 1915 in Hadali, which is now in Pakistan. He studied law at Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College and at King’s College in London. His birth name was Khushal Singh given by his grandmother which meant ‘Prosperous Lion’. Thus, he got a pet name Shalee which was used to mock him at school by his classmates. So, he changed his name to Khushwant which rhymed with his brother’s name Balwant. After completing his education at King’s College, he went to Bar at The Inner Society.
Mr. Singh started his career as a professional lawyer by 1939. He then got in IFS i.e. Indian Foreign Services for independent India. He worked for the Government of India in Canada and London for a while. Around 1951, he joined the All India Radio as the journalist. From the year 1954 to 1956, he worked at UNESCO at Paris in the Department of Mass Communication. After that, he turned to editorial services and founded Yojana, an Indian Government journal. Along with that, he also worked for The Illustrated Weekly, The National Herald and Hindustan Times.
Khushwant Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha and was accused of favouring Congress party during the reign of Indira Gandhi. Though his belief system was shaken when the anti-Sikhs riots took place and eventually led to the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
He was awarded a Padma Bhushan for his service to the country in 1974 but he returned back the award in a decade when Operation Blue Star took place which involved the protest was against the siege of the Golden Temple. But in 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Indian Government. He also is known as the uncle of actress Amrita Singh and also by his grandniece Tisca Chopra; both being well-known actresses in the film industry.
He is a self-proclaimed agnostic and that was made clear through his writings. His famous books include: ‘Train to Pakistan’, ‘Delhi: a novel’, ‘Truth, Love and a Little Malice’, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous’, etc. A movie was made on the book Train to Pakistan, Truth, Love and a Little Malice was an autobiography. The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous was his last book published in October 2013. Khushwant Singh died of natural causes in March 2014 at his residence in Delhi at the age of 99.
He was cremated and his ashes are buried in Hadali school as per his wish and the plaque has the inscription:
IN MEMORY OF
SARDAR KHUSHWANT SINGH
A SIKH, A SCHOLAR AND A SON OF HADALI (Punjab)
‘This is where my roots are. I have nourished them with tears of nostalgia …