This monograph on Baba kharak Singh endeavors to depict the life and times of this great son of India, who was mainly responsible for moulding the course of events in the politics of modern Panjab and inculcating nationalist and secular values in the regional politics. In 1922, Baba Kharak Singh was elected as the President of the provincial Congress Committee in Panjab. It was his vision and leadership which was greatly responsible for bringing about close cooperation between the Sikh struggle for Gurdwara reform and the larger movement for country’s liberation. Babaji greatly endeared himself to his countrymen and was popularly described as the “Undcrowned king of the Sikhs”. Pandit Nehru described Babaji as the bravest among the captains of the struggle for India’s freedom. When the Akali civil resisters succeeded in forcing the powerful British administrators in Panjabi to hand over the keys of the treasury of the Golden Temple to Baba Kharak Singh, the then president of the S.G. P.C., Mahatma Gandhi sent him the following telegram: First Decisive Battle For India’s Freedom Won. Congratulations.
Dr. Mohinder Singh received his Masters degree in History from the Punjabi University, Patiala and taught history at the Baring Union Christian college, Batala, S.G.T.B. Khalsa. College, University, Patiala. Before joining as the Director of the National Institute of Panjab Studies, New Delhi, Dr. Singh served as the Director of Guru Nank Foundation. Dr. Mohinder Singh was awarded fellowship by the Indian Council of Historical Research it carry his research forward in the United kingdom on the Akali Movement, which subsequently earned him his Doctorate. Author of several standard works on Sikh history and religion, Dr. Singh sits on the Advisory Boards of several national and international organizations. He has lectured at several Indian and foreign universities including the University of califomia, Santa Barbara as a visiting Fulbright Fellow. Presently Dr. Singh is serving as a Member, National Commission for Religious & Linguistic Minorities, Government of India.
The Indian National Congress succeeded not only in liberating the country through non-violent struggle but also strengthened popular people’s movements at regional and local level. The close cooperation between the Congress and the popular people’s movements at he regional level greatly strengthened local roots of Indian nationalism. Consequently, popular leaders belonging to different communities and regions were drawn into India’s struggle for independence. Although, a lot of literature has been produced on the Indian National Congress and leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharalal Nehru and others, not much is known about regional movements and regional leaders in regions other than their own.
The National Book Trust, India has taken the welcome initiative of filling this gap by commissioning biographies of prominent national laeaders who worked at the regional grassroots level. Among he nationalist Sikh leaders, Baba Kharak Singh was, Perhaps, the only leader of eminence who ermained steadfast andocnsistent both in his strong opposititon ot the British rule as well his staunch nationalism. With the inception of the Central Sikh League, an independent body formed to take care of he political concerns of the Sikhs at a time when shiromani Akali Dal was busy in its battle for religious reform, Bab Kharak Singh provided a tangible example of separation of religion and politics in the Indian context.
A revised and updated version of the original account written during the Congress Centenary Celebration in 1985, this biography of Baba Kharak Singh depicts the life an d times of this great son of India who was largely responsible for moulding the course of events in modern Panjab and inculcating nationalist and secular values in the regional politics. Baba Kharak Singh was the moving spirit behind the Central Sikh League, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromain Gurdwara Prabandhak committee. It was the vision and leadership of Baba Kharak Singh that led to he prelude of sikh struggle of reform of historic shrines and culminated into a powerful movement against the government appointed mangers of the Gurdwaras on one hand and against the powerful British official s in the Panjab on the other.
Any endeavour to write about a man of Baba Kharak Singh’s vision and stature would be incomplete without discussing the institutions that he helped build and nourish. Therefore, an attempt has been made in the present biography to discuss the milieu in which Baba ji was born and brought up. The book also highlights the powerful movements which drew him and the Sikh community into the mainstream of Indian nationalism.
I hope this monograph will help our countrymen, partyucularly the younger generation, understand and appreciate the close cooperation and friendship that existed between the regional movements and the larger movement of country’s struggle for freedom led by leader like Baba Khark Singh. I am grateful to Dr. Amrik Singh and Prof. Bipan Chandra for their help and guidance and the National Trust for publishing this biography of Baba Kharak Singh whose selfless sacrifice has been a source of strength to many regional and national leaders during India’s struggle for freedom.
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