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Pratap Singh Kairon (1901–1965) was the Chief Minister of the Punjab province (then comprising Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh), and is widely acknowledged to be the architect of post-Independence Punjab Province(or Punjab, Haryana and Himachal as of today). Moreover, he was an Indian independence movement leader. He was jailed twice by the British Empire, once for five years for organising protests against British rule. His political influence and views are still considered to dominate Punjabi politics, sometimes called the "father of modern Punjabi politics".

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Early life

Pratap was born on October 1, 1901, into a Sikh family in the village of Kairon,the Amritsar district, province of Punjab during the British Raj. His father, Nihal Singh Kairon, was a pioneer in initiating women's education in the province. Pratap studied at the Khalsa College, Amritsar and then went to the U.S., where he supported himself with work on farms and factories. He did his Masters in political science from the University of Michigan.He also did his Masters in Economics from University of California at Berkeley before going to Michigan. He was influenced by farming methods practised in the U.S.A and hoped to replicate the same in India later.

Political career

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Entry into politics and contribution to Indian independence movement

Kairon returned to India in 1929. On April 13, 1932 he started an English weekly paper The New Era in Amritsar. He joined politics and the newspaper eventually shut down. He was at first, a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal and later of the Indian National Congress. He was jailed in 1932 for five years for participating in the Civil disobedience. He entered the Punjab Legislative Assembly as an Akali nominee in 1937, defeating the Congress candidate, Baba Gurdit Singh of Sarhali.

From 1941 to 1946, he was the general secretary of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee. He was jailed again in the 1942 Quit India Movement and was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946.

In power

After Independence in 1947, Pratap Singh Kairon held various offices in the elected state government including Rehabilitation Minister, Development Minister(1947–1949) and Chief Minister(1952–1964).

Minister for Rehabilition

As Minister for Rehabilitation in the days immediately after the Partition, Kairon ended the chaos and confusion and handled the tough task of resettlement of millions of refugees who had migrated from West Punjab. Over three million people were re-established in East Punjab in new homes and often in new professions, in a very short period of time.

Chief Minister

Pratap Singh Kairon was a man of vision. He laid the base on which Punjab prospered. In his role in implementing land reforms, the late leader established the Punjab Agricultural University, which played a key role in the Green Revolution. He also placed Punjab on the industrial map of the country. He was behind the creation of the city of Chandigarh and the industrial township of Faridabad(in present-day Haryana). Kairon made primary and middle school education free and compulsory. He opened three engineering colleges and a polytechnic in each district. He was responsible for establishing much of the state's basic infrastructure in terms of irrigation, electrification and roads. Punjab was the first state in the Indian Union to have all its villages electrified.

Demise

In 1964, following the publication of the report of the commission of enquiry which had exonerated him of the bulk of the allegations made against him by his political adversaries, Partap Singh Kairon resigned from his position as chief minister of the Punjab. On February 6, 1965, he was assassinated by Sucha Singh, in his car on the main highway (the G.T. Road) from Delhi to Amritsar. Sucha Singh was later hanged.

See also

References


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