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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Magic pen left behind,the color of the black and white journalism faded away.

Magic pen left behind,the color of the black and white journalism faded away.

Palash Biswas


One of India's best-known authors and 

journalists, Khushwant Singh elevated English writing 

in India with uninhibited wit and humour and was 

equally facile with his pen on serious issues like 

partition in the classic 'Train to Pakistan'. 

I always did read Khushwant Singh,the journalist living in New Delhi. I was born nineteen years  after the great partition and he was a young man of 32 years at the time of transfer of power.

He belonged to elite aristrocracy.He was the great son of sir Shobha singh who built New Delhi.He could read the autobiography of the city of heart.I continued to read him since the day I could read and write in English.

For almost thirty four years,I am engaged as a professional journalist.I never did follow the man.For me he belonged to the ruling class who had nothing to do my class,the subhuman underclass.But I could never ignore him.I debated with great Ashok Vajpayee,Prabhash Joshi and Kuldeep Nair,but I never got the opportunity to interact with the great old man of Indian journalism living across the partition.

But I was shocked to hear that the man whose father was the builder of the Indian capital had to seek safety and shelter during 1984 riots.Then I saw the holocaust following us all whether born before or after the great divide.

People would remember the man for which writing with Midas touch,but I would remember him for his capability to survive the holocaust again and again.He had no enemy perhaps.The President,the Prime Minister and the opposition remained a close friendship always.But he was opposed to fascism.He had been in favor of  reforms and Dr Manmohan Singh and Montek Singh Ahluwalia were his favorite.But he always did plead for democratic norms.He was secular in his writings.He broke taboos in writings.As an editor of the Illustrated Weekly he dared to publish nudes in print first time in any Indian news magazine.He could write on relationship without doctoring it.

I always differed with him.But I always admired him for his basic honesty which is perhaps the greatest quality of any writer,journalist or creative artist.

President  and Prime Minister  today paid rich tributes to renowned author and journalist Khushwant Singh, describing him as a "fearless intellectual" and a "gifted authhor". 

The Prime Minister, accompanied by wife Gursharan Kaur, and Chairperson  visited Singh's residence at Sujan Singh Park and paid homage to the author, known as one of the finest writers in English in contemporary , who died today at the age of 99. 

Condoling the author's death, President Pranab Mukherjee described him as a "fearless intellectual" who had sharp insight and unique wit, as well as sense of humour. 

In a condolence message sent to his son Rahul, the President said he was deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of Singh. 

The Prime Minister described Singh as "a gifted author, candid commentator and a dear friend" who lived a truly creative life." 

's prime ministerial candidate  Modi tweeted, "My condolences on the passing away of noted author & journalist Khushwant Singh. May his soul rest in peace." 

Scores of eminent citizens including Kuldip Nayar, Bishan Singh Bedi and author Vikram Seth paid tributes to Singh at his residence. 

Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi remembered playing tennis with Singh. "His hearty laughter over certain shots! He played to enjoy and not compete!" 

Calling him a remarkable man and a great writer, veteran journalist Mark Tully said Singh had a great sense of humour. 

"He never minced his words and was a courageous person. I remember once having dinner with him when he showed up his tremendous knowledge about Urdu poetry. What a lovable man he was!" said Tully. 

Leading journalist and author M J Akbar said Singh was an admirable man. 

"I have this unreserved gratitude for him. I was a kid, 20-year-old in a newspaper, and he really picked us up from nothing. He gave us opportunities which were undreamt of for any young person wanting to do anything," he said. 

"For him to recognise and bless you was virtually the hand of a benedict," Akbar added.


Hindustan times reports

Counted amongst India's best authors and columnists, Khushwant Singh's joie de vivre, acid wit, courage and innate belief in human goodness were all reflected on the pages of his books. He dabbled in all forms - from brilliant historical anthologies to moving novels to politically incisive comments to translations and social commentary.

The prolific author wrote his last book at the age of 98. He co-wrote The Good, The Bad and The Ridiculous with Humra Qureshi. Forced by failing eyesight and weak hands, he bid goodbye to his writing journey in Kasauli - the quaint hill town which played an important part in his literary journey.

As an era ends with the death of the grand old man of Indian literature, we look at some of his most important works - a difficult task given the immense body of work he leaves behind.


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Train to Pakistan (1953) 
In the summer of 1947 when India is being partitioned, the hamlet of Mano Majra comes to terms with the new reality of India and Pakistan, Hindus and Muslims. The truth is brought home when a ghost train arrives in the isolated village, carrying bodies of hundreds of refugees. It is left to a boy and a girl, from different religions, to rise beyond this abyss of religious hatred.
I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale (1959) 
Set in British India, Kushwant Singh's second novel is about a magistrate loyal to Britishers and his nationalist son who believes in using the gun to drive out the Britishers. The son is arrested and the father is given two choices - either the son betrays his comrades or get hanged.

A History of Sikhs (1963)
This two-volume book is considered the most comprehensive and authoritative book on the Sikhs.
Based on solid research, it is written in a way to be accessible to even the lay reader.

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The Company of Women (1999)
A work of fiction, Khushwant Singh wrote this novel at the age of 84. A comment on hypocrisy in the Indian society, the book tells the story of Mohan Kumar who believes "lust is the true foundation of love". The book was talked about for its unbridled sexuality and brazen views on man-woman relationship.
Truth, Love and a Little Malice (2002)
His image was not something Kushwant Singh was ever overtly concerned about. His autobiography which delves into his personal life and all those he met during the journey was controversial yet true to its title. Right from his first relationship to important political events he witnessed to his familial roots - all find a place here and are handled unabashedly and truthfully.

Why I Supported the Emergency (2004)This bold and thought provoking collection of essays on India's Emergency explained the reasons why Khushwant Singh supported the proclamation on June 25. In the book, he goes to point out the mistakes which were made then and which, he says, must be avoided the next time conditions require suspension of democratic norms for the preservation of law and order. The book was edited by Sheela Reddy.

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