HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Khushwant wanted Sikhs to retain identity, wasn't a good student

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 20, 2014
First Published: 13:59 IST(20/3/2014) | Last Updated: 14:02 IST(20/3/2014)

Noted writer and journalist Khushwant Singh, who passed away at 99 on Thursday, believed Sikh leadership should discuss and ponder over the fact that majority of them had discarded symbols of Sikh identity such as turban, long hair and beard.

In an address read out by his son in February this year, Khushwant said he was an agnostic, but strongly believed in the sense of Sikh identity and of Sikhs retaining their symbols. "Without that, I am convinced, the Sikh religion will eventually die out and perhaps merge with Hinduism," he had said.

He also said growth of intolerance and fundamentalism of all religions disturbed him and called upon the people and the youth to combat the menace as the society was to develop and grow as a progressive, peaceful and secular society.

Singh had said he had hopes in the young generation, who were better educated and more aware of what was going on in the world. "Cell phones, Twitter, Facebook — of which I know nothing — and which come under the umbrella of social media, are, I believe, helping in this process," he added.

He described education and welfare of the girl child as the two most concerned areas for him. He also took on godmen and astrologers and said that they, along with faith-healers, and the like, were constantly making a fool out of people.

'He was not a good student'
The author's son, Rahul Singh, said his father was not a very good student and got third division in studies. He also termed him politically naive and foolish, who spoke from the heart. "He became close to Indira Gandhi but championed the cause of Maneka Gandhi after the death of Sanjay Gandhi. Later, he fell out with the same Maneka," he said.

Singh added that Khushwant Singh was a master in entertaining and provoking people.  He mentioned that Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) once wrote to him to not write jokes on Sikhs but he wrote back to them stating, "Go to hell!"

He also cited various incidents of his run-ins with top leaders and various organisations.

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