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R.I.P. Khushwant Singh

MARCH 20, 2014

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R.I.P. Khushwant Singh



Khushwant Singh, journalist, author and one of the most well-known columnists is no more. He passed away peacefully at home. Till the last moment, he was quite active and had left writing only 3 years ago to resume it later on his own. Singh, 99, is best remembered for his sharp and unsparing humour, secularism and a passion for Urdu poetry. The jovial Sardar's Sujan Singh Park residence in new Delhi's posh area often hosted renowned writers, especially young and female, for literary soirees amidst rounds of scotch, which he loved. He coined the label "Dirty Sardar" for himself.


Born in 1915 at Hadali in Pakistan, Singh authored all-time classics "Train to Pakistan", "I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale" and "Delhi" and "The History of the Sikhs". He also translated Ghalib's poems and the holy Sikh scripture The Japji Sahib into English. In his own words, he was a failed lawyer-turned-diplomat-turned-accidental writer. His autobiography "Truth, Love and a Little Malice", was published in 2002. His collection of Sardar jokes featuring two fictional characters, helped create the Santa-Banta brand. He was pretty much unhappy with the lack of a sense of humour on the part of Indians nad believed that a person was not really mature unless he could laugh at himself.



He edited several magazines, including the Illustrated Weekly of India and The Hindustan Times apart from the National Herald in the 70s and the 80s. He was a strong supporter of Indira Gnadhi and Sanjay Gandhi and even defended them in his book but fell out with both later. Though a self-proclaimed atheist, he had returned the Padma Vibhushan in the wake of Operation Blue Star in 1984.

Decorated with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civil honour in India, Singh was unabashed in his proclaimed love for wine and women. His legendary Mario Miranda caricature inside a bulb image published with the column With Malice Towards One And All, became his brand image.


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