New Delhi: Internationally renowned author and journalist Khushwant Singh passed away today at the age of 99 in New Delhi. Khushwant Singh was adjudged as one of the major Indo Anglian Journalist, Novelist and Writers of India and had written more than 45 books.
He died quietly at home at his leafy Sujan Singh Park apartment, a landmark for oldtimers of the capital, in whose construction his grandfather, Sir Sujan Singh, had a big hand.
He was pre-deceased by his wife Kawal. He is survived by son Rahul and daughter Mala.
His son Rahul Singh, a journalist and writer, said the author had stopped writing a few weeks back, but he was reading papers every morning.
“He was alert mentally till the very end,” his son, Rahul Singh, told a new channel.
“He passed away very peacefully, led a very full life,” he added.
As per reports, his funeral would be held today at 4 PM at Lodhi Road Crematorium, New Delhi.
Born in Hadali, now in Pakistan, he had, among others, served as the editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India. He was also a member of parliament from 1980 to 1986.
“Train to Pakistan”, “I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale”, “A History of the Sikhs”, “The Company of Women” and “Delhi”, and has written over 30 novels, many short stories, essays and countless commentaries. His autobiography, “Truth, Love and a Little Malice”, was published by Penguin Books in 2002. At 95, he wrote the novel “The Sunset Club”.
His last book, The Good, The Bad and The Ridiculous, was released in October 2013, which explores 16 famous personalities, including several literary giants, including former Prime Ministers Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Krishna Menon, Sanjay Gandhi, Amrita Sher-gil, Begum Para, M.S. Golwalkar, Mother Teresa, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Dhirendra Brahmachari, General Tikka Khan, Phoolan Devi and Bhagat Puran Singh. Khushwant Singh reportedly retired from writing after this book.
He received several awards in his lifetime including Rockfeller Grant in 1966, Honest Man of the Year by Sulabh International in 2000, Punjab Rattan Award by The Government of Punjab in 2006, Padma Vibhushan by Government of India in 2007.
He was awarded Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 1974 which he returned in 1984 after the Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple, Amritsar.
He was close to former prime minister Indira Gandhi but then fell out with her over her imposition of press censorship during her emergency rule 1975-77. The relationship further soured after he became close to estranged daughter-in-law Maneka Gandhi, whom he mentored for some time.
Known for his colourful writings, sharp sense of humour and love for the good life, his writings weren’t just limited to novels and short stories, Khushwant Singh oeuvre ranged from political commentary to contemporary satire.
“He was a gentle person and a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. He believed in good thought and good deed. He hated hypocrisy and fundamentalism,” Rahul said.
He was also a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1980 to 1986.
Vice President M Hamid Ansari, in a tribute, said: “Khushwant Singh had a long, prolific and illustrious literary career spanning several decades during which he wrote on subjects varying from politics to poetry to issues of social concern.
“He was particularly admired for being fearless in expressing his views in his writing and speech.”
(With IANS Inputs)