Salute to Khushwant Singh

The death of Khushwant Singh at the age of 99 was a great loss to the Sikh community. Despite being an agnostic he was a very proud Sikh because he felt that he belonged to the great Sikh race irrespective of his religious convictions or personal views . He was thoroughly sympathetic to the Sikhs and their cause but disagreed with the manner in which the issues affecting them were approached. He was a fully fledged, not a part time Sikh, until his death. And even in the last days of his fragile age it was understandable that his beard was flowing which did not require attention to be clipped due to poor health.

He was indeed very smart Sikh whose conduct, speech, manners and personality impressed many and brought credit to the Sikh people. I recall his address to an English audience in Brighton in the early 70’s on some Anglo Indian topic and how at the end of the speech he was hugged and embraced by baronesses and aristocratic ladies for his immaculately impressive address. That is what promoted the image of the Sikhs. He worked and practiced as a lawyer in Lahore before he came to the UK and joined Kings College University of London. Kings’ college was indeed the most prestigious institution of learning in the UK after Oxbridge in the 1930’s and it was dream of every foreigner to study there.

The right wing Hindus dubbed him “the last Pakistani on the Indian soil.” The Sikh separatists considered him to be an anti Khalistan - separate and independent country for the Sikhs. However like any individual he was entitled to express his personal views as long as they did not cause racial disharmony. We cannot criticize him for his personal views about God or life but need to look at his positive contribution to the Sikh people.”History of the Sikhs’ was a commendable piece of work which cannot be ignored. It was an unprecedented piece of history by any Sikh so far which disseminated to both Sikhs and non Sikhs their glorious past of which Khushwant Singh was passionately proud of Khushwnt Singh lived the Sikh way of life notwithstanding his agnostic belief.

He stood for truth and honesty, condemned injustice at all levels and always sought community cohesion. He never betrayed the Sikh people as many of our leaders have done in the past. He was intellectually enlightening and a free soul.The true quality of Khushwant Singh was disclosed after the Operation Blue Star attack on the Golden temple in 1984. He stood by his principles and condemned the attack openly without fear or favour. Our so called Sikh Leaders shied away and sought their personal protection although there was exception of Professor Darshan Singh and Giani Maskinji. How many other Sikhs handed back their awards in protest at this khalugara?

We can be proud of him because he never betrayed the Sikhs and I must add that he was entitled to his views which did not make him a bad man even if we disagreed with him.
I salute the man for what he stood and may God rest his soul in eternal peace.