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Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh at a reading in New Delhi
Born Khushal Singh
February 2, 1915 (1915-02-02) (age 95)
Occupation Journalist, Writer, Historian
Religion Agnostic

Khushwant Singh (Punjabi: ਖ਼ੁਸ਼ਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ, IPA: [xʊʃʋən̪t̪ sɪ́ŋɡ]; born 2 February 1915 in Hadali, Punjab, which now lies in Pakistan) is a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country.

An important Indo-Anglian novelist, Singh is best known for his trenchant secularism, his humor, and an abiding love of poetry. His comparisons of social and behavioral characteristics of Westerners and Indians are laced with acid wit. He served as editor of several well-known literary and news magazines, as well as two major broadsheet newspapers, through the 1970s and 1980s.


Early life

Born in Hadali, Punjab, to a Sikh family. His father, Sir Sobha Singh, was a prominent builder in Lutyens' Delhi.

He was educated at Government College, Lahore, St. Stephen's College in Delhi and King's College, London, before reading for the Bar at the Inner Temple.[1][2]


In August 1947, days before the partition of India and Pakistan, Singh, then a lawyer practicing in the High Court in Lahore, drove to his family's summer cottage at Kasauli in the foothills of the Himalayas. Continuing on to Delhi along 200 miles (320 km) of vacant road, he came upon a Jeep of armed Sikhs who boasted that they had just massacred a village of Muslims.[3] Such experiences were to be powerfully distilled in Singh's 1956 novel Train to Pakistan. (The 2006 edition of Train to Pakistan, published by Roli Books in New Delhi, also contains 66 photographs by Margaret Bourke-White that capture the partition's violent aftermath.)

Singh has edited Yojana, an Indian government journal; The Illustrated Weekly of India, a newsweekly; and two major Indian newspapers, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times. During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India's pre-eminent newsweekly.[citation needed] After Singh's departure, it suffered a huge drop in readership.[4]

From 1980 through 1986, Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 for service to his country. In 1984 he returned the award in protest against the siege of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army.[5] Undeterred, in 2007 the Indian government awarded Singh an even more prestigious honor, the Padma Vibhushan.

He leads a very disciplined life, waking up at 4 am each day and writing his columns by hand. His works range from political commentary and contemporary satire to outstanding translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry. Despite the name, his column "With Malice Towards One and All" regularly contains secular exhortations and messages of peace, brotherhood and tolerance. In addition, he is one of the last remaining writers to have personally known most of the stalwart writers and poets of Urdu and Punjabi languages, and profiles his recently deceased contemporaries in his column. One of the most striking aspects of his weekly writings is his outright honesty; he will openly admit to his weaknesses and mistakes, along with an acceptance of his declining health and physical abilities in more recent times.

As a public figure, Singh has been accused of favoring the ruling Congress party, especially during the reign of Indira Gandhi. He is better viewed as an establishment liberal. Singh's faith in the Indian political system has been shaken by events such as anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination, in which major Congress politicians were alleged to be involved. But he has remained resolutely positive on the promise of Indian democracy[6] and worked via Citizen's Justice Committee floated by H. S. Phoolka who is a senior advocate of Delhi High Court.

Personal life

He has a son named Rahul Singh and a daughter. He is the paternal uncle of actress Amrita Singh.

Honors and awards


  • The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, 1950
  • The History of Sikhs, 1953
  • Train to Pakistan, 1956
  • The Voice of God and Other Stories, 1957
  • I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, 1959
  • The Sikhs Today, 1959
  • The Fall of the Kingdom of the Punjab, 1962
  • A History of the Sikhs, 1963[7]
  • Ranjit Singh: The Maharajah of the Punjab, 1963
  • Ghadar 1915: India's first armed revolution, 1966
  • A History of the Sikhs, 1966 (2nd edition)[8]
  • A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories, 1967
  • Black Jasmine, 1971
  • Tragedy of Punjab, 1984
  • Delhi: A Novel, 1990
  • Sex, Scotch and Scholarship: Selected Writings, 1992
  • Not a Nice Man to Know: The Best of Khushwant Singh, 1993
  • We Indians, 1993
  • Women and Men in My Life, 1995
  • Uncertain Liaisons; Sex, Strife and Togetherness in Urban India, 1995
  • The Company of Women, 1999
  • Truth, Love and a Little Malice (an autobiography), 2002
  • With Malice towards One and All
  • The End of India, 2003
  • Burial at the Sea, 2004
  • Paradise and Other Stories, 2004
  • A History of the Sikhs: 1469-1838, 2004[9]
  • Death at My Doorstep, 2005
  • A History of the Sikhs: 1839-2004, 2005[10]
  • The Illustrated History of the Sikhs, 2006
  • Why I Supported the Emergency: Essays and Profiles, 2009

Short stories

  • The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories. London, Saturn Press, 1950.
  • The Voice of God and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1957.
  • A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories. New Delhi, Hind, 1967.
  • Black Jasmine. Bombay, Jaico, 1971.
  • The Collected Stories. N.p., Ravi Dayal, 1989.
  1. The Portrait of a Lady


Television Documentary: Third World—Free Press (also presenter; Third Eye series), 1982 (UK).[citation needed]


  1. ^ Khushwant Singh, Foreward, in Aditya Bhattacharjea and Lola Chatterjee (eds), The Fiction of St Stephen's
  3. ^ Sengupta, Somini, "Bearing Steady Witness To Partition's Wounds," Arts, The New York Times, September 21, 2006, pages E1, E7
  4. ^ "Khushwant Singh's Journalism: The Illustrated Weekly of India". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  5. ^ "Those who said no to top awards". The Times of India. 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  6. ^ Singh, Khushwant, "Oh, That Other Hindu Riot Of Passage," Outlook Magazine, November, 07, 2004 , available at [1]
  7. ^ Singh, Khushwant (1963). A History of the Sikhs. Princeton University Press. 
  8. ^ Singh, Khushwant (1966). A History of the Sikhs (2 ed.). Princeton University Press. 
  9. ^ Singh, Khushwant (2004). A History of the Sikhs: 1469-1838 (2, illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 434. ISBN 0195673085, 9780195673081. Retrieved July 2009. 
  10. ^ Singh, Khushwant (2005). A History of the Sikhs: 1839-2004 (2, illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 547. ISBN 0195673093, 9780195673098. Retrieved July 2009. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Khushwant Singh {Punjabi: ਖ਼ੁਸ਼ਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ, IPA: [xʊʃʋən̪t̪ sɪ́ŋɡ]} (born 2 February 1915) is a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country.


  • Under its first two Indian editors [The Illustrated Weekly] became a vehicle of Indian culture devoting most of its pages to art, sculpture, classical dance and pretty pictures of flowers, birds, and dencing belles. It did not touch controversial subjects, was strictly apolitical and asexual (save occasional blurred reproductions of Khajuraho or Konarak). It earned a well-deserved reputation for dull respectability. I changed all that. What was a four-wheeled victoria taking well-draped ladies out to eat the Indian air I made a noisy rumbustious, jet-propelled vehicle of information, controversy and amusement. I tore up the unwritten norms of gentility, both visual and linguistic… . And slowly the circulation built up, till the Illustrated did become a weekly habit of the English-reading pseudo-elite of the country. It became the most widely read journal in Asia (barring Japan) because it reflected all the contending points of view on every conceivable subject: politics, economics, religion, and the arts.
    • Khushwant Singh’s Editor’s Page (1981)[specific citation needed]

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