Khushwant Singh: The feisty sardar
Arguably India's most popular author, Khushwant Singh's prolific literary output over the years has overshadowed his careers as a journalist and a diplomat.india Updated: Mar 11, 2004 11:11 IST
Arguably India's most popular author, Khushwant Singh's prolific literary output over the years has overshadowed his careers as a journalist and a diplomat. But those were the fields he started with, and a considerable amount of his writing was done in those periods of his life.
Born to riches in 1915 in Hadali, Punjab (now in Pakistan), Khushwant Singh was educated at Government College, Lahore and at King's College and later at Inner Temple in London.
He began as a radio journalist in All India Radio in 1951. He, however, soon moved to print holding a number of plum assignments. He was founder-editor of Yojana, before moving on as editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India, The National Herald and The Hindustan Times. Since then he continues to write for a number of publications regularly. His column in the Hindustan Times, With Malice Towards One and All, has been one of the most popular features of the newspaper.
Meanwhile, he practised at the Lahore High Court for several years before joining the Ministry of External Affairs in 1974, during which span he was posted in Europe and North America. He has received numerous honours, Indian and international. He returned the Padma Bhushan he had earlier received in protest against Operation Bluestar in 1984. He has also served as nominated Member of Parliament (1980-86).
But what the feisty sardar is best known for are his books, of which he has written over 80. Equally proficient in fiction and non-fiction, his most popular books are the two-volumeHistoryoftheSikhs, Train to Pakistan, I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, Delhi and The Company of Women. He has written extensively on the history of Sikhism, with separate books for some of the prominent historical figures of the religion.
Though over 85 years old, Singh continues to write with as much zest as he did when he began. Controversial, he has often been derided by critics for 'sensationalism' and pandering to populism in his writings. Admirers have highlighted his ability to pinpoint social shortcomings of contemporary society and address them in his writings, through prose or poetry, fiction or fact.