Vol. 6 | Issue 4 |July 2012
The Sikh Surge
The Sikh comunity has arrived with a bang. They are at the helm of affairs in almost all spheres of governance and the Khalsa is virtually ruling India.
by Neeraj Mahajan / Anil Tyagi
Ek onkaar sath naam karathaa purakh
nirabho niravair akaal moorath ajoonee
saibhan gur prasaadh
II Jap II
aadh sach jugaadh sach II hai bhee sach
naanak hosee bhee sach II
This Mool Mantar —i.e. main or root verse – from the Shri Guru Granth Sahib is the basis of Sikhism. It means that there is only one universal creator – God. His name is truth, he is creativity personified, without fear, without hatred, eternal, perpetual, immortal and indestructible. He is beyond incarnation, undying, beyond birth, self-existent by Guru’s Grace…
Chant: True in the Primal beginning, true throughout the ages, true here and now. O Nanak, forever and
Guru Gobind Singh had written the following Doha after giving Gur Gaddi to the Guru Granth Sahib. Its original text is at Hazoor Sahib.
“Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth,
Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo Granth
Guru Granth Ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh,
Jo Prabhu ko milbo chahe khoj shabad mein le,
Raj karega Khalsa aqi rahei na koe,
Khwar hoe sabh milange bache sharan Jo hoe.”
Meaning: “Under orders of the Immortal Being, the Panth was created. All the Sikhs are enjoined to accept the Granth as their Guru. Consider the Guru Granth as embodiment of the Gurus. Those who want to meet God, can find Him in its hymns. The pure shall rule, and impure will be no more. Those separated will unite and all the devotees shall be saved.”
Waheguru Je Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Je Ki Fateh!(“Khalsa is God-Guru’s property, May God be victorious”)
SIKHS with their distinctive turbans are one of the most visible faces to be found on planet Earth. Even in the inhospitable sub-zero terrains of Dras and Leh in Ladakh, enterprising Sikhs and Punjabis from Hoshiarpur were amongst the first settlers who dominated the market. Here, there, everywhere, it’s the same story – Sikhs are amongst the wealthy, reputed and well-to-do people in the world. “Either find a way, or make one”, this motto of the Sikh pioneers spells the ethos of the Sikh spirit of never to give up. It is said that if there is a work to be done, entrust it to a Sikh; he would not only do it but also come up with 99 other ways to do the same work. For this simple reason, you’d never come across a Sikh who is a beggar or has no work to do. Sikhs are today among the most hardworking people who have carved a niche in politics, international affairs, public administration, diplomacy, history, geography, economics, science, military history, business and many areas in India and other parts of the world.
Sikhs have risen to the top of their profession in the true spirit of the term Raj Karega Khalsa (the pure shall rule) and Chardi Kala (high spirits: positive, buoyant and optimistic attitude). The spirit of Chardi Kala symbolises universal good and wellbeing of all humanity as spelt out in “Nanak Naam Chardi Kala, Tere Bhane Sarbatt da Bhalaa”. This is the essence of Guru Nanak’s three main precepts: Naam Japo, Vand Chhako, Kirat Karo, which mean speak the holy name, share the fruits of labour and work diligently and honestly. The concept of daan, or charity, in Sikhism revolves around Dasvand, meaning donation of one tenth of one’s harvest, income or time and service for community or social service. It essentially means taking care of the less-fortunate or needy and giving to the poor.
A thing that never stops amazing one about the hard-working Sikhs is their ability to bounce back from bad times. The Sikh community has suffered much in the past. The decade of the 80s was one of the worst for them in recent times when jobs and promotion opportunities were denied to them in many parts of the country and abroad. The Sikh identity was threatened not just in India but other parts of the world as well. To the extent that an Indian envoy, despite his diplomatic passport, was detained at an US airport and asked to take off his turban. Even the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) – which fashioned itself as the principal representative of Sikhs, after emerging as a task force of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) to give a political voice to Sikh issues (panthic cause) – deleted the word Sikh from its constitution and presented itself as a Punjabi secular party.
But thankfully, bad times don’t last. Today, an unprecedented number of Sikhs are back with a bang in large numbers in almost all spheres of public life and occupy many top posts across various fields. To last out the tough times and bounce back again onto the mainstream is not an easy task. But to give the credit where it’s due, many Singhs and Kaurs have risen from within the ranks because of their persistence and steadfast resolve to get justice within and outside the system. Their enterprising spirit, positive attitude and hard work has helped them earn name and fame all across the world in almost all fields like politics, bureaucracy, academics, judiciary, foreign services, armed forces, sports, cinema and business.
It’s not that all these people came out of the blue. They were working in the public domain for a long time. It’s only that their surge happened almost simultaneously.
MUCH of the credit for this goes to Manmohan Singh, 79, the first Sikh and the 13th Prime Minister of India.
He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. He is also the first PM to operate out of Panchavati – or 7, Race Course Road, as the official residence-cum-office of the Indian Prime Minister is called these days. As the Head of State he draws a salary of Rs 1, 60,000 per month, including a daily allowance of Rs 2,000 per day and constitutional allowances.
Among his official perks include using Air India One aircraft operated by the Indian Air Force’s VIP Squadron for foreign travel, and the armoured Prime Ministerial 2009 BMW 7 Series saloons for local travel. Typically, the Prime Minister’s convoy comprises 20-25 cars within Delhi, but could go up to 170-200 vehicles outside the city.
Though both Singh and his wife belong to the Khatri, Kukhran, Kohli subclan, they rarely use their surname. Married to Gursharan Kaur, Manmohan Singh has three daughters, Upinder Singh, Daman Singh and Amrit Singh. Upinder Singh is a professor of history at Delhi University. Daman Singh is married to Ashok K Patnaik, a 1983 batch IPS officer posted with the Intelligence Bureau in Delhi. Amrit Singh is a lawyer in America. Having lasted for 2,947 days on the hot-seat, Manmohan Singh is today the third-longest serving PM after Jawaharlal Nehru (6,130 days) and Indira Gandhi (5,829 days). Forbes magazine describes Singh as “India’s best Prime Minister since Nehru”.
Backed by P N Haksar and hand-picked by L N Mishra, former cabinet minister, as Advisor in the Ministry of Commerce in the 70s, Manmohan has never looked back and he got the right patronage and backing by the influential Chandigarh group in the National Capital.
DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
ANOTHER prominent Sikh in India today is the 69-year-old Oxford-trained economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is today the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. One of the most influential persons in the country, he is one of the permanent members of the National Security Council.
As one of the most important strategists in the country, he has a finger in every pie – from economics, defence and health to education reforms. His status in the Planning Commission makes him equal to the rank of a cabinet minister. Even though he has never been a civil servant, he has served as Finance Secretary, Secretary Department of Economic Affairs, Commerce Secretary, Special Secretary to the Prime Minister and Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Finance. One of the frequent visitors to Ahluwalia’s Panchsheel Enclave home is PM Manmohan Singh.
Montek’s wife Isher Judge Ahluwalia is currently a Member of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, Government of India, and Chairperson, Board of Governors of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER). Almost as well known as her husband in the field of economics, she along with Prof I M D Little edited Manmohan Singh’s book India’s Economic Reforms and Development – Essays for Manmohan Singh, an updated collection of essays. Dr Ahluwalia was awarded Padma Bhushan by the President of India in 2009 for her contribution in the field of education and literature.
The spirit of success
“Chirian to mein baaz tudaun
Gidran to mein sher banaun
Sawa lakh se ek ladaun
Tabe Gobind Singh naam kahaun”
This is a saying by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, who is also known as ‘Chittay baaja wala’, the keeper of the white falcon. It means, “Only if I can make sparrows fight against hawks, make lions out of jackals, and make one person fight against 1.25 lakh enemies – only then do I deserve to be called Gobind Singh”. This is probably the reason why a Sikh considers himself equal to 1.25 lakh enemy soldiers in valour.
This valour sprouts from a simple geographical fact – Sikhs mainly populate the region made fertile by five rivers, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. Now if you look around the world, you’ll find one general similarity among all communities who lived in river valleys: because the land is fertile, the people are mostly hard-working and take the maximum out of nature’s bounty; this leads to prosperity and, in turn, the determination to protect their prosperous region. For Sikhs, there was one more added factor for the valour they display. They hailed from a region that was the gateway to India in historical times. All invaders came from the north-west through the Khyber Pass into India.
Thus, the people living in this strategic region developed the aggressiveness to defend themselves and repel invaders. Sikhism took birth in this volatile yet prosperous part of India and the Sikhs imbibed the fighting spirit so needed to defend their territory and their prosperity. This never-say-die attitude and the spirit to take on any adverse situation also gave the Sikhs an advantage in economic terms.
Though after Independence, use of river waters were divided between India and Pakistan, there was no shortage of any kind and Punjab became the Granary, or the Bread Basket of India. With a produce of 1 per cent of the world's total rice production, 2 per cent of wheat production and 2 per cent of cotton produce, Punjab became the second richest State in India. All the hard work paid rich dividends to the people of the State. With prosperity came increased spending on good things in life – good food, good clothes, better homes and thus better lives. Though their prosperity often attracted enemies, fighting was something that the Sikhs were good at since the beginning of the Khalsa in 1699. This fighting spirit came with another unique quality passed down through the centuries – of liberally sharing the fruits of their labour with their fellow brethren.
To put things in perspective, the quest to achieve higher goals by the Sikhs can be explained by Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, which prioritises human needs at five hierarchical levels – physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and self actualisation needs. Having met most of their basic and secondary needs, the Sikhs now want a higher pedestal in life, greater fame, success and power. That is what is happening today.
SECRETARIES TO GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
The seven top-ranking Secretary-level Sikh officers in the India bureaucracy are represented by Dilsher Singh Kalha (Pharmaceuticals), Amarjit Singh Lamba (North-East Region), R S Gujral (Finance), Kiran Dhingra (Textiles), Sindushree Khullar (Youth Affairs) and Dr A Didar Singh (Overseas Indian Affairs).
With an impressive list of degrees in law, economics, business administration and international finance and trade, Raminder Singh Gujral, a 1976 batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre, is Secretary Finance. He is among the richest bureaucrats in India as per the assets declared by him. Gujral has been Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and Chairman, National Highways Authority of India, as well as Director General (Foreign Trade) in the Ministry of Commerce.
Fifty-nine year old postgraduate in history, Dilsher Singh Kalha — a 1977 batch Punjab cadre officer – is posted as Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP). At the time he took over, the department was headless without a secretary and two joint secretaries. A former Secretary (Finance) in the Government of Punjab, Kalha has also been the Principle Resident Commissioner at Punjab Bhawan and Advisor in the Planning Commission.
Amarjit Singh Lamba, a 1977 batch IAS officer from West Bengal, is Secretary, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER). He has had a long stint at the Planning Commission in addition to the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and as Additional Secretary with the Ministry of Agriculture.
A 1975 batch AGMUT cadre IAS officer Kiran Dhingra is the new Textile Secretary. She is expected to hold office till January 2013. Dhingra had earlier worked in the Textiles Ministry for close to five years as Joint Secretary. A former Chief Secretary of Goa, she also served as DG Shipping, Secretary Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), Secretary Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR), and Development Commissioner of Andamans for three years.
A 1976 batch Punjab cadre officer Dr A Didar Singh is Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indians. An expert in e-commerce with hands-on experience in the field, he was instrumental in establishing an IT Park and satellite earth station at Mohali in the late 90s. He is married to Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, who works for the World Health Organisation (WHO) in India.
At a glance
Sikhism is a 500-year-old faith, a way of life practiced by the followers of the 10 Gurus and 11th, the eternal Shri Guru Granth Sahib. Today Sikhism is the youngest and the fifth-largest religion in the world with close to 27 million Sikhs worldwide. Of these, close to 19 million live in India, primarily in Punjab. There is a large population of Sikhs in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. There are over 1 million Sikhs in the United States and Canada. This is in addition to a significant number of Sikhs in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of the world.
Ms Sindhushree Khullar is a 1975 batch UT cadre IAS officer and currently Secretary in Department of Sports. She has also been appointed as Secretary, Planning Commission. Ms Khullar is wife of Rahul Khullar, Chairman, Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
After much controversy, Devinder Pal Singh, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre (1980), finally took over as the Chairman and Managing Director of the Punjab and Sind Bank. Prior to this, he was Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Secretary, National Commission for Safai Karmacharis, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
A 1973 Bihar cadre officer, Intelligence Bureau chief Nehchal Singh Sandhu is the only Sikh IPS to wear the rank badge equivalent to General of the Armed Forces. Though officially placed under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in practice the Director IB is virtually the eyes and ears of the Prime Minister. He is a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and Steering Committee on Intelligence. And, make no mistakes about his super-sleuthing capabilities as he has over 30 years experience in intelligence agencies and possesses a computer-like memory.
Even though the 1974 Batch IPS (Jharkhand Cadre) officer, 58-year-old Amar Pratap Singh occupies the office of Director, Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI), one of his strongest rivals for the post till the last minute was Sardar Balwinder Singh, a 1976 IPS officer of Andhra cadre, who was posted as Special Director, CBI. Balwinder Singh had been with the CBI ever since he was a DIG and Director, CBI Academy. He later became its Joint Director, Additional Director and then Special Director. Ideally, he would have become Director CBI but for Senior IPS officer Geeta Johri’s allegation that the CBI intimidated her to depose against former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. The matter rocked both Houses of Parliament and the Supreme Court, which supervises the investigations and postings of CBI top brass, stepped in to veto Balwinder Singh’s candidature. Known to be a wizard at solving bank frauds and economic offenses, Balwinder Singh will now be advising the CBI as a part of the special six-member board constituted under the agies of the Central Vigilance Commission. The mandate of the board, under the chairmanship of former Deputy Governor of RBI Shyamala Gopinath, is to assist the
CBI in probing cases related to bank, commercial and Another intelligence organisation with Sikhs at the helm of affairs is the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). It’s headed by R S Sidhu, a 1977-batch Indian Revenue Service officer as the DG DRI and Vanaja N Sarna as Addl DG DRI. Prior to taking over as Addl DG DRI, Sarna was additional director-general of the National Academy of Customs & Central Excise (NACEN). Together, the Sidhu-Sarna duo has embarked on a clean-up mission to improve the sagging, controversy ridden image of DRI. One such special operation is codenamed ‘Op Thunderstorm’.
Jai Jeet Singh (IPS 1990 MH) is taking over as IG National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), a state-of-the-art technical intelligence gathering unit under the operational command of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Originally known as the National Technical Facilities Organisation (NTFO), it forms the specialised intelligence pool with the tech-int wings of the Armed Forces and other intelligence agencies.
INDIAN FOREIGN SERVICE
BORN in Jalandhar and son of noted Punjabi writer Mohinder Singh Sarna, Navtej Sarna, 1980 batch IFS officer, is the Indian Ambassador to Israel. A popular face on television, he was the longest-serving spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs and served two prime ministers, three foreign ministers and four foreign secretaries. He has served as a diplomat in Moscow, Warsaw, Thimphu, Geneva, Teheran and Washington DC.
A former lecturer at Delhi’s St Stephens college, Hardeep Singh Puri, a 1974 batch IFS officer, is Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations. He is the Chairman of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee and former President of the United Nations Security Council. Besides being a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Defence as well as External Affairs, he has been the Indian Ambassador to the United Kingdom and has held various important diplomatic posts in Brazil, Japan and Sri Lanka.
A former student of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Navdeep Singh Suri, 1983 IFS, currently Joint Secretary and Head of the Public Diplomacy Division in the Ministry of External Affairs, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Arab Republic of Egypt. Suri has served in different capacities at Indian diplomatic missions in Syria, United States, Tanzania, UK and South Africa. Grandson of eminent Punjabi novelist Nanak Singh – the father of Punjabi literature – Navdeep translated his grandfather’s classic 1930s novel Pavitra Paapi, which has been published by Penguin as The Watchmaker.
A career diplomat and former Foreign Secretary, Jagat Singh Mehta has been the Indian Chargé d’affaires in China and High Commissioner to Tanzania. A recipient of the Padma Bhushan, most of Mehta’s ancestors were in public service as Diwans of the princely state of Udaipur before Independence. His father Mohan Singh Mehta was a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1947 and served as the first Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan. His wife Rama Mehta was the first woman IFS officer before she quit due to the then rigid government rule of not allowing spouses to serve IFS together.
A product of Mayo College, Ajmer, St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Gurjit Singh, a 1980 batch IFS officer, is currently Ambassador of India to Indonesia and has been concurrently accredited as the Ambassador to Timor-Leste. According to a Ministry of External Affairs communiqué, he would have residence in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has served in Tokyo, Colombo, Nairobi, Rome and as the Ambassador of India to Ethiopia, Djibouti, and the African Union. Known to be an old Africa hand, he has a great passion for the continent.
A 1966 batch IFS officer, Dr Kanwal Sibal retired as Foreign Secretary of India. He served in Cairo, Washington, Turkey, Kathmandu, Lisbon, Tanzania and London besides holding important positions in Delhi. He was India’s Ambassador to Turkey, France, Egypt and Russia. He also received the high distinction of Grand Officer of the Ordre du Merite from France.
Shamsher Singh Siddhu (IPS 1988 UP) JD, HQ Delhi, has been appointed as Minister Coordination, London.
Maharajadhiraj Sir Yadavindra Singh Mahendra Bahadur, GCIE, GBE, the colourful Maharaja of Patiala, played one Test for India as a cricketer. He served in the Patiala State Police as an Inspector General in Malaya, Italy and Burma during the Second World War. He also served as the Indian Ambassador to Italy, the Netherlands and the Hague and President of the British Indian Olympic Committee and President of the Indian Olympic Committee. His son, Captain Amarinder Singh, later became Chief Minister of Punjab and his daughter Maharajkumari Heminder Kaur is married to K Natwar Singh, former External Affairs Minister of India.
AFTER months of uncertainty, the government cleared the name of former industry secretary Rajinder Pal Singh as Chairman of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Singh, an IAS officer of 1976 batch
of Andhra Pradesh Cadre, will hold the office for a minimum period of three years or till the age of 65 years. One of the daunting tasks before him is to construct 9,500 km of highways in the current financial year. NHAI is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for management of over 60,000 km of National Highways in the country.
B P Singh, 55 yrs, Director (Projects) NTPC, is a graduate in mining engineering. He has a rich and varied experience in coal as well as power sector. He started his career in 1974 in coal mining sector firstly with Indian Iron & Steel Company and subsequently with Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. He joined NTPC Ltd in 1981 and worked in various capacities on many corporate, central and power projects in the areas of fuel management, coal mining and coal washery. He played a pivotal role in the formulation of NTPC’s overall strategy for fuel security.
Amarjit Singh Bindra, 51 years, is on the Board of Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN) as Director (Finance) since December 2010. Bindra is an honours graduate in commerce and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He has 28 years of experience in NHPC, THDC and DMRC. Prior to joining SJVN, he was the General Manager (Finance) in Delhi Metro Railway Corporation Limited. Bindra has wide experience in financial planning, appraisals, getting clearances, budget monitoring, and contract management, including commercial aspects and policy issues.
Satnam Singh is the Chairman & Managing Director of Power Finance Corporation (PFC), one of best managed bank, financial institution and insurance companies in India. A graduate in commerce and an MBA in finance, Satnam Singh also held the position of Director (F&FO) of PFC. He also handled various responsibilities, including business development, loan disbursement and financial and legal operations. He was also instrumental in the successful completion of the IPO in February 2007 with over-subscription of 76 times, an all-time high for a public sector company. He has over 28 years of experience in the power and financial sectors, including NTPC and SJVN. He assumed board level position in PFC as Director (F&FO) at the age of 47 and led the company on a profitable growth track resulting in consistent dividend payments to its shareholders. His other assignments include representing PFC on the Board of PTC, Chairman of Coastal Andhra Power Limited (Krishnampattna UMPP) and Chairman of Jharkhand Integrated Power Limited (Tilaiya UMPP).
Till recently S S Khurana, as the Chairman of the Railway Board and ex-officio Principal Secretary to the Government of India, was the administrative head of the Indian Railways. An electrical engineer from the University of Roorkee – now IIT Roorkee – he joined the Indian Railway Service in 1971. He also received foreign training in Sweden, Japan and USA, in addition to attending Advance Leadership Programme at Stern Business School, New York, USA.
After acting as the Chairman and Managing Director of MTNL for nearly two years, Kuldip Singh has been re-designated as Director, Technical. As the Chief Technical Officer, he is responsible for technology planning and induction, identifying new business opportunities, strategic long-term plans and annual operating plans, and operations.
THE four Sikh Governors today include Dr Shivinder Singh Sidhu, Gurbachan Jagat, Dr Iqbal Singh and Gen Joginder Jaswant Singh in Goa, Manipur, Pondicherry and Arunachal Pradesh, respectively.
Seventy-year-old retired IPS officer of the 1966 batch, Gurbachan Jagat is the Governor of Manipur. Punjab, Kashmir, Manipur – you name a dangerous place and the chances are that either he would have been there or planning to go there.
Sixty-seven year-old businessman-turned politician, Dr Iqbal Singh would consider himself lucky if he manages to complete his full term as Lt Governor of Puducherry without any untoward incident. Ever since he took over as LG Puducherry on July 27, 2009, he has been involved in one controversy after another.
Former Governor of Goa, Dr Shivinder Singh Sidhu is an IAS officer of the 1952 batch of UP cadre. He also has been Governor of Manipur and Meghalaya, Secretary to the Government of India as well as District Magistrate of Kanpur and Commissioner of Agra Division. He was Secretary-General of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as well as Chairman of Air India and Indian Airlines.
Pinnacles of Sikh Glory
1. Giani Zail Singh was the first Sikh President of India and first Sikh to hold India’s highest public office
2. Lt Gen Joginder Jaswant Singh was the first Sikh Chief of the Indian Army Staff.
3. Air Marshall Arjan Singh was the first five-star Marshall of the Indian Air Force.
4. Mota Singh was the first Sikh to be knighted in UK in 2010.
5. S S Khera, ICS, was the first Sikh to become Cabinet Secretary.
6. S S Grewal was the first Sikh IAS to be appointed to Cabinet Secretary.
7. Dr Kalpana Chawla was first Indian astronaut aboard a US space shuttle.
8. Partap Singh Kairon was the first Sikh Chief Minister of undivided Punjab.
9. Captain Ishar Singh was the first Sikh to receive the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy
10. Brig Joginder Singh Dhillon commanded the First Republic Day Parade on January 26, 1950 at the Irwin Stadium, Delhi, at the behest of Jawaharlal Nehru. Later as Lt Gen, he became the first post-independence Sapper Army Commander (Central Army).
11. Rajpal Singh, Pargat Singh, Ajit Pal Singh and Surinder Sodhi were captains of Indian hockey. At present, Pargat Singh is Director of Sports for Punjab and Secretary General responsible for looking after the affairs of men and women’s hockey in the state of Punjab.
Former COAS, Gen J J Singh, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd), was recently rewarded with the Governorship of Arunachal Pradesh. General Joginder Jaswant Singh was the first Sikh officer to become Chief of the Indian Army Staff in 2004. He has the rare distinction of commanding the Western Army Command as well as the Army Training Command. As the Additional Director-General of Military Operations (ADGMO), Gen Singh became the Army’s public face during the Kargil conflict.
TWO Sikh Chief Ministers, Parkash Singh Badal and Sheila Dikshit, are at the helm of affairs in Punjab and Delhi, respectively.
Parkash Singh Badal is the first Sikh to be Chief Minister of Punjab for the fifth term. Earlier this year, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won its second consecutive assembly election under his leadership. He previously served as Chief Minister from 1970 to 1971, from 1977 to 1980, and from 1997 to 2002. A Jatt Sikh from Malwa region, he is the one of the top 10 richest politicians in India. He entered politics in 1947 and was first elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1957. In 1970, when he became CM for the first time, he became the youngest Chief Minister of an Indian state.
His son, Sukhbir Singh Badal is the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal. He was a Member of Parliament in the 11th and 12th Lok Sabhas in 1996 and 1998, respectively. He was Union Minister of State for Industry in the second Vajpayee cabinet from 1998 to 1999. He was a member of Rajya Sabha from 2001 to 2004. His sister is married to Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, the grandson of former Punjab Chief Minister Pratap Singh Kairon and nephew of Governor Harcharan Singh Brar.
Seventy-year-old Sheila Dikshit, the Chief Minister of Delhi, is considered to be one of the most powerful women in the country. She managed to come back to power as Delhi Chief Minister for a third successive term in 2008 and is the longest-serving woman Chief Minister in independent India. She is also the second woman Chief Minister of Delhi. A Sikh by birth, she was born in Kapurthala in Punjab and her maiden name was Sheila Kapur.
SUPREME COURT JUDGES
CURRENTLY Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice J S Khehar will be the first Sikh Chief Justice of India in 2017. Justice Khehar will take over as the Chief Justice of India on January 4, 2017, when Justice T S Thakur, who is tipped to be the next Chief Justice in September 2014, eventually retires. In a landmark judgment, in which he headed a full judge bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on May 30, 2009, Justice Khehar defined a Sikh as someone who, “keeps unshorn hair and does not trim beard or pluck eyebrows.”
Till recently a judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice H S Bedi has been recalled after retirement to function as the Chairman of the monitoring authority looking into 22 cases of fake encounter killings in Gujarat. This is because the Supreme Court wanted the supervision and monitoring of investigation in the cases to be done by “someone whose integrity is completely beyond any question”. Unhappy with the Modi government’s decision to appoint Justice Vyas as chief of STF, the SC asked Justice Bedi to replace him. This has given rise to an interesting situation since the State government has yet not cancelled its orders to appoint Justice Vyas. Justice Bedi might prove to be a tough customer. He is a second generation judge – his father, Tikka Jagjit Singh Bedi, was a judge in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
An LLB from the Government College, Lahore, Pakistan, Justice Ranjit Singh Sarkaria served as a judge in the Punjab and Haryana High Court before being appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court of India. In his long and illustrious career, Justice Sarkaria served as Chairman of the Press Council of India and was commissioned by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to study the Centre-State relationships in India. Justice Sarkaria submitted his report in 1988. Even today this landmark document is referred to as Sarkaria Commission report in the Government of India. Justice Sarkaria died in Chandigarh at the age of 91.
Former Chief Justice of India, Justice B N Kirpal has been appointed as the first Chairman of the National Forest Commission, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Known for his concepts like enviro-justice and keen judicial activism, he came to be known as an environmental judge and savior of the environment. Justice Kirpal has delivered well over 30 path-breaking judgments on environmental issues.
ONE of the hotshot lawyers in the country, K T S Tulsi reportedly charges around Rs 3.5 lakh for every appearance, Rs 1.10 lakh for filing affidavits of witnesses and Rs 50,000 per hour for legal consultancy. Still there are people and governments who pay him because he is irreplaceable. Kavi Tejpal Singh Tulsi is truly an ace Supreme Court Lawyer, former Public Prosecutor and Additional Solicitor General. He is known to take up controversial cases that many of his colleagues may think twice before geting involved. Presently he is pleading a murder case against Shankaracharya of Kanchi, Jayendra Saraswati, on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Government. He is the man who equally strongly opposed Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and took up cases against the Sikh terrorists that no one dared to touch. Personally, he is known for his secular and clean image.
INDIAN ARMED FORCES
FOR centuries, Sikhs have been an indispensible part of the Indian armed forces. Even today, 15 per cent soldiers and 20 per cent officers in the Indian Army are Sikhs. The Sikh regiment is one of the oldest and highly decorated regiments with as many as 73 Battle Honours, 14 Victoria Crosses, 21 first class Indian Order of Merit (equivalent to the Victoria Cross), 15 Theatre Honours and 5 COAS Unit Citations, 2 Param Vir Chakras, 14 Maha Vir Chakras, 5 Kirti Chakras, 67 Vir Chakras and 1,596 other gallantry awards to its credit. It’s also got the distinction of 34 posthumous medals – a feat unmatched by any regiment of the Army.
Like the Sikh Regiment, the Sikh Light Infantry, comprising of Mazabhiand Ramdasia Sikh troops, is also known for its dauntless courage, loyalty and tenacity. The Mazhabi Sikhs in Sikh Li take extreme pride in the saying; “Ranghrete Guru ke bête (Ranghretas are the Guru’s own sons)”. The Rangretas were generally low-class, poor Hindu farmers and landless labourers who embraced Sikhsim because it did not differentiate on the basis of caste and creed. When Guru Tegh Bahadur was killed by the Mughals in Delhi, the Ranghretas led by Baba Jeevan Singh took his head back to Guru Gobind Singh.He was so touched that he declared that the Rangrettas (Mazhabis) were his sons, and admitted them to the Sikh faith. Originally, the term Mazhabi referred only to the descendants of these people.
It is a matter of pride for the Sikh Li that 59-year-old General Bikram Singh, known as ‘Bikki’ to his friends, assumed charge as the 25th Chief of Army Staff on May 31, 2012. He is the second Sikh and the first General from Sikh Li to be chief of the world’s second-largest army. Commissioned on March 31, 1972, he is married to Surjeet Kaur and has two children.
Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag too was tipped to be the next Chief after Gen Bikram Singh retired, but found himself in the midst of a big soup thanks to a last-minute move by the outgoing Chief of Army Staff Gen V K Singh, who issued a showcause notice for lapses in a military intelligence operation. Had he been censured, it would have been good-bye to the command and no chance of becoming the Chief. Though momentarily caught in a limbo, three things helped him. First, Gen V K Singh initiated many things but could not take them to the logical conclusion. Second, within days of taking over as Chief, Gen Bikram Singh undid everything that Gen V K Singh did. Third, the CBI gave him a clean chit saying that an extensive investigation by the cabinet secretariat has found nothing in the allegations levied against him by Gen V K Singh. Thanks to this, Gen Suhag is back as the Army Commander, Eastern Command.
While Gen Suhag has been lucky to have got another chance, many years ago another dashing Lt General H S Panag was shunted out to the Lucknow-based Central Command at the behest of the then Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor. Gen Kapoor reversed all decisions taken by Panag to order enquiry into many defence procurements. Had Panag stayed on, possibly the chain of command would have been different.
Gen Vijay Kumar Ahluwalia retired recently as the GOC-in-Chief, Central Command. Commissioned into Artillery, he was the 28th Army Commander of Central Command. Having trained on the Bofors guns in Sweden, he raised the first Bofors battery of the Indian Army. He was also the Colonel Commandant of Army Aviation Corps and Regiment of Artillery.
Another Sikh officer Lt Gen Avtar Singh Gill, a 1965 batch Jat regiment officer, was the Director-General, Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which was established after the intelligence failure which led to the Kargil intrusions. Prior to DIA, Lt Gen Avtar Singh had been GOC 33 Corps in the eastern sector.
Lt Gen Puneeta Arora, the first woman to reach the twin ranks of Lt Gen in the Indian Army and the first Vice-Admiral of Indian Navy, was Commandant, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. She is also the first woman officer to command an Army Medical College. She is currently DG, Medical Services (Navy). Her husband, Brigadier P N Arora, retired from the Army Medical Corps. Her son, Sqdn Leader Sandeep Arora, and daughter-in-law are both doctors. Even her daughter Sabina is a doctor who left the army after a six-and-a-half-year tenure.
Commissioned in the Artillery regiment, Brig Gurmeet Kanwal is one of the biggest guns in the forces today. Besides being the Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), he commanded an infantry brigade on the Line of Control (Operation Parakram 2001-03) and an artillery regiment in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir Valley (Operation Rakshak, 1993-94). His son Rahul Kanwal is a popular TV anchor and editor.
Likewise, Brigadier A K Singh of the Punjab Regiment is understood to be posted as the Military Adviser to the Army Chief.
SIKHS leaders are a prominent part of all major political parties today.
Apart from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Preneet Kaur, Partap Singh Bajwa, Sukhdev Singh Libra and Ravneet Singh are the prominent Sikh faces in the Congress today which traditionally has had many Sikh leaders like former President of India Giani Zail Singh, former Union ministers Sardar Swaran Singh, Dr M S Gill and Buta Singh, former Punjab Chief Ministers Pratap Singh Kairon, Beant Singh and Captain Amarinder Singh and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur of Kapurthala.
The wife of former Chief Minister of Punjab and the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, Captain Amarinder Singh, Preneet Kaur is a Congress MP from Patiala constituency for the third consecutive term and is serving as the Minister of State for External Affairs. She has one son, Yuvraj Raninder Singh.
Son of slain Akali leader Satnam Singh, Partap Singh Bajwa isthe Congress MPfromGurdaspur. He has been a cabinet minister in Punjab under chief ministers Beant Singh and Amarinder Singh.
Grandson of slain Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, Ravneet Singh is the Member of Parliament from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. He was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009. He is also the first elected President of the Punjab Youth Congress.
Sukhdev Singh Libra, the MP from Fategarh Sahib, is one of the most senior and popular political leaders of Punjab. He is the leader of the Indian National Congress in the State.
Former IAS officer-turned-politician M S Gill represented Punjab in the Rajya Sabha and served as the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports. A former Chief Election Commissioner of India – he succeeded T N Seshan – Gill also served as the Agriculture Secretary of Punjab.
Arvinder Singh Lovely is the Minister of Education, Tourism, Languages, Gurudwara Elections and Gurudwara Administration in the Delhi Government. Born in 1968, he was elected to the Delhi Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1998. He was the youngest MLA. It is because of his excellent track record as MLA, that he was given the Upcoming Legislator Award for the year 2000. In 2003, he was re-elected to the Delhi Legislative Assembly by getting 73.53 per cent of the total votes polled.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
S S Ahluwalia, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal and HS Balli are among the prominent Sikh faces in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
S S Ahluwalia was till recently MP from Jharkhand and Deputy Leader of the Opposition till he lost his Rajya Sabha seat. A former Congressman, he was one of the most vocal members of Parliament. He was the Minister for Urban Development, as well as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Born in Patiala in the Malwa region of Punjab, cricketer-turned-TV commentator-cum politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is the BJP MP from Amritsar. Known for his wit and wisecracks as a TV commentator, Sidhu has also starred in a Punjabi movie Mera Pind with Harbhajan Mann.
Another well-known Sikh leader in BJP is Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal, who is a household name in Punjab, especially in rural areas. Popularly known to be the voice of farmers and farm labourers, he spearheaded an agitation to prevent US Patent of Basmati, Neem and other “Swadeshi Products”.
Harcharan Singh Balli was the Industries Minister in the BJP’s Delhi government under Madan Lal Khurana. He broke the seals of 22 shops, sealed on the orders of the court orders in west Delhi. As a result, the Supreme Court sentenced him to three months in jail.
Industrialist and trader-turned five times BJP MP, Sartaj Singh Chhatwal is the giant-killer who defeated former Union Minister Arjun Singh. He is one of the richest politicians in Madhya Pradesh. He cried outside the BJP office in Bhopal in 2008 when his name was not included in list of names for oath-taking as a minister. But soon he managed the media and Delhi-based leaders to become Madhya Pradesh’s Forest Minister in November 2009. He is no stranger to controversies. Even BJP leaders have taken up cudgels against him.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)
Prominent Sikh youth brigade in the Akali Dal include the husband and wife team of Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Rattan Singh Ajnala, Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Sher Singh Ghubaya.
Armed with an MA (Economics) degree from the Punjab University and an MBA from USA, Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of Parkash Singh Badal, is the new face of Sikh leadership. He is the Deputy CM of the State. His wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the SAD MP from Bathinda. She led a campaign against female foeticide “Nanhi Chaan” (“small shadow” in Punjabi).
Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala is a member of the 15th Lok Sabha and represents the Khadoor Sahib constituency of Punjab. He has been district president of the party in Amritsar for the last 18 years.
Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab. He was the Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilsers and Sports in the third Vajpayee Ministry, from the year 2000 to 2004. His son, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, is the PWD minister of Punjab.
Son of Sardar Boota Singh and Surjit Kaur, Balwinder Singh Bhunder is an agriculturist, political and social worker. Born in village Bhunder of Mansa district, he is a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab.
Paramjit Kaur Gulshan is an MP from Faridkot. She represented Bathinda constituency in the 14th Lok Sabha. Born in Akali Jalal in Bathinda district and married to Nirmal Singh, she is an MA from Punjab University and B.Ed from Guru Nanak Dev University.
Born in Qadian village of Gurdaspur district, Sher Singh Ghubaya is the MP from Ferozpoor Sahib Constituency of Punjab. He is one of the most popular political leaders of Akali Dal.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
Rajya Sabha Member Avtar Singh Karimpuri is a budding Sikh leader in the BSP. He is the President of the party’s Punjab unit. Earlier this year, he had resigned from the party presidentship and though initially Mayawati accepted his resignation, she promptly recalled Karimpuri back after sensing the mood of the leaders and workers in the State.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)
Mohansingh Rajpal of the NCP is the Mayor of Pune. Rajpal contested the municipal elections in 1984 and then in 1992 but was first elected to the Pune Municipal Corporation in 2002 on an NCP ticket from the Tilak Ayurvedic college ward. He is now serving his second term.
For the last many decades, H S Surjeet was the Sikh face of the communist parties in India. He was an influential General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) from 1992 to 2005 and member of the party’s politbureau. He left his mark on national politics and was popular across parties.
When reel is real
Cinema is said to represent the mood in society. And if one goes by the recent trend in Bollywood, the turbaned and bearded Sikh is becoming an integral part of the main story. This trend was started by a turbaned Akshay Kumar in the blockbuster Singh is King. Since then, almost every top male actor – Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Sunny Deol, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Ranbir Kapoor – have played Sikh characters in Hindi films. Saif’s first home-production Love Aaj Kal showed him as a turbaned Sikh throughout the film. Actor Kabir Bedi in Main Hoon Na played the role of a Sikh army general. These portrayals have come a long way from the times when Sikh characters were either companions of the protagonist and sacrificed their life for him or were mostly comedians like Jaspal Bhatti and Gurpreet Ghuggi.
Surely, this is an indication of the growing acceptance of the Sikh as an equal partner in society.
K D Singh is an Indian entrepreneur-turned-politician who believes that hard work, intellect and an determination to succeed are essential ingredients for achieving great things in the world today. A businessman from Chandigarh, he entered politics with the support of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) as a Rajya Sabha member from Jharkhand in July 2010. Chairman of the Alchemist Group, consisting of 11 companies with over 8,000 employees across India and an asset base of Rs 10,000 crore, he has switched his loyalties now to the Trinamool Congress and desires to become a cabinet minister from the Trinamool quota.
As a formerPress Secretary to President Zail Singh, Director, Public Relations of the IXth Asian Games Organising Committee and Managing Director of Delhi Tourism, former MP Tarlochan Singh knew how to make himself count. He used his gut-power to make the right noises.
Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee
Avtar Singh Makkar, President of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), is the most important Sikh among Akali politicians. He is the confidante of Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal. His group holds such a command in the SGPC that in the committee elections he bagged 133 of the 156 votes cast and was elected for the sixth time as SGPC President. The SGPC governs all Sikh shrines and schools across India, receiving donations to the tune of billions every year, and holds considerable influence in molding the community’s ideologies and political inclinations.
Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee
Paramjit Singh Sarna is the President of the cash-rich and politically influential body of Sikhs, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), almost for the last ten years. His family hails from Gujjar Khan, now in Pakistan. He is a successful businessman, manufacturing steel vessels at Wazirpur, Delhi. Sarna is a known critic of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Sarna and his brother Harvinder Singh reportedly enjoy good relations with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh. He has a solid grip on the DSGPC and enjoys the support of 40 out of 51 members of the management committee.
Shivinder Mohan Singh is the Managing Director of Fortis Healthcare, an Indian company. He is the grandson of Bhai Mohan Singh, the founder of pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy Laboratories. He and his brother Malvinder Singh are among the top 20 richest Indians in the world. Singh studied in Doon School and graduated from St Stephen’s College in Mathematics.
Analjit Singh, born on January 11, 1954, is the Founder-Chairman of Max Healthcare and Max Bupa Health Insurance Company Limited, and Executive-Chairman of Max New York Life Insurance. He is the youngest son of Bhai Mohan Singh, founder of Ranbaxy Laboratories. He is currently an Executive Board Member of the Board of Governors, Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.
Kulwant Singh Kohli, the 64-year-old CMD of the Preetam Group of Hotels located near Dadar Central in Mumbai, is the ex-Sheriff of Mumbai. He has also been into film financing. Pakeezah was his first project.
Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EIH Limited, the flagship company of Oberoi Group of Luxury Hotels & Resorts. Popularly known as ‘Biki’, he inherited the Oberoi Group from his late father Rai Bahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi, who was the founding chairman of the Oberoi Group.
Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, 57, founded Pearls in 1983 and under his guidance it has become one of India’s fastest growing firms and among the country’s largest private land-bankers. Born in Punjab and resident of Australia, Bhangoo is now being recognised for his tremendous contribution to enhancing business relationships with Britain and Australia. Though media shy, Bhangoo nevertheless has an eye on the media and owns P7 TV Network and magazines like Shukravaar and Bindiya. He is a man to be watched!
High Ranking Appointments
Surjit Singh Barnala is one of the longest serving Governors in India and the only Governor to have served three terms in Tamil Nadu. Surjit Singh Barnala has been Governor of four states, two Union Territories, Chief Minister of Punjab, Education, Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forests, Consumer Affairs, Power, Chemical and Fertilisers and Rural Development minister in the Union Cabinet.
Kiran Bedi was the first Indian to be appointed as the United Nations Civilian Police Advisor. She was also the first woman in the history of the United Nations to be appointed to the post. The appointment was made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. She is the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award (Philippines) for Government Service, Joseph Beuys Foundation Award (Germany) for Holistic and Innovative Management, and Morrison Tom Gitchoff Award (United States) for actions that have significantly improved the quality of justice in India.
A 1970 batch IPS officer, Parvinder Singh Pasricha served as the 30th Police Commissioner of the Mumbai Police and Director-General of Police of Maharashtra. He was the second Sikh officer to head the Mumbai Police, the first being A S Samra. Today after retirement, he is the Chairman, Administration Committee of GS Board, Nanded, and serves as Non-Executive Independent Director of Dewan Housing Finance Corp Ltd. The GS Board is responsible for day-to-day running of Takhat Shri Hazoor Sahib and the nearby gurdwaras.
Chairman of the Indian Spinal Centre and famous mountaineer Maj H P S Ahluwalia climbed Mt Everest on May 29, 1965. A few months later he received a bullet in his spine in Kargil during the 1965 Indo-Pak war and has been in a wheelchair since. But he never let the disability keep him down. Through his Indian Spinal Injury Research Centres, he has given many disabled people a reason to smile. Major Ahluwalia has also been the Chairman of Rehabilitation Council of India and has been awarded the Padma Bhushan, Padma Shree, Arjuna Award, National Award for the best work done in the field of Disability and Nishan-e-Khalsa. He has written several books like Higher than Everest, Beyond the Himalayas and Everest is Within You.
HH Tikka Raja Shatrujit Singh of Kapurthala is the elder son of Brig Sukhjit Singh, MVC the Maharaja of Kapurthala and Maharani Gita Devi. An alumnus of Doon School and Hindu College, he is advisor to the Chairman of Louis Vuitton in India. In 1984 he married Rajkumari Chandralekha Kumari, the Princess of Bijou, daughter of Raja Rudra Pratap Singh of Bansi in UP, and has a son.
Sir Sobha Singh was the biggest builder in New Delhi and the single-largest owner of real estate in the national capital. A key building contractor in the early to mid 20th century, he and his father Sujan Singh created many landmarks like India Gate and Connaught Place. He was referred to as Aadhi Dilli Ka Malik, owner of half of Delhi. Even in those early days, this used to fetch him a rental income of well over Rs 2 crore a year. Sobha Singh probably made one mistake in his life when he identified Bhagat Singh in the famous Harding bomb case. His dubious testimony was accepted by the British Judge to pronounce death penalty for Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, while Sobha Singh was knighted by the Empire.
Khushwant Singh, son of Sir Sobha Singh is one of India’s prominent journalists. His weekly column is among the most widely-read columns in the country. One of the most successful editors of The Illustrated Weekly, he is a Padma Vibhushan recipient, the second highest civilian award in India. The other five Sikh recipients of Padma Vibhushan include Dr Jasbir Singh Bajaj, Amrita Pritam, Sardar Gurbachan Singh Talib, Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi and Tarlok Singh.
Kunwar Shri Vishvjit Prithvijit Singh of Kapurthala is the great grandson of Col Kanwar Pratap Singh Bahadur of Kapurthala and son of Kanwar Ranjit Singh. He was later adopted by Kanwarani Surjit Kaur, the widow of Captain Kanwar Prithvijit Singh of Kapurthala. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha twice. He was married to Kanwarani Vijay Thakur Singh, a diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, who also served as the Joint Secretary to the President of India.
Diabetologist Dr Jasbir Singh Bajaj has been conferred with the Padma Vibhushan by President Pratibha Patil. He has earlier been decorated with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. He is the first Punjabi and only the ninth person in the country to receive the award for services in the field of medicine and research. He has also been an honorary physician to both the President as well as the Prime Minister of India.
Thetimes were when Guru Teg Bahadur laid the supreme sacrifice for the protection and pride of fellow countrymen. Guru Gobind Singh also sacrificed everything for the same cause and created the khalsa who were not supposed to compromise on the highest tenets laid by the Guru – ‘Sis diya par sirer na diya’ (Give the head but not the resoluteness). The challenges of the present times may not be demanding the sees (head), but call for using the same sees to take some hard decisions and measures so that fellow countrymen and generations can uphold their head high and write the word khalsa in golden words again.
Deh Shiva Var Mohe Ahe,
Shubh Karman Tey Kabhoo Na Taron,
Na Daroon Aur Sauh Jab Jaaye Laroon,
Nishchay Kar Apni Jeet Karoon,
Aur Sikh Hon Apne Hi Mann Ko,
Eh Lalach Hau Gunn Tau Ucharoo,
Jab Aav Ki Aundh Nidhan Bane,
Att Hi Rann Mein Tab Joojh Maroon
(O Lord grant me the boon, that I may never deviate from doing a good deed. That I shall not fear when I go into combat. And with determination I will be victorious. That I may teach myself this greed alone, to learn only Thy praises. And when the last days of my life come, I may die in the might of the battlefield.) g