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Noted author Khushwant Singh passes away

His works ranged from political commentary and contemporary satire to outstanding translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry

ANI  |  New Delhi 

Noted author passed away Thursday of old age complications. He was 99.

was born on February 2, 1915. An Indo-Anglian novelist, Singh was 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 were laced with acid wit.

During is life, he served as editor of several literary and news magazines, as well as two broadsheet newspapers, through the 1970s and 1980s.

He was a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award.

He was educated at Modern School, New Delhi, Government College, Lahore, St. Stephen's College in Delhi and King's College London, before reading for the Bar at the Inner Temple. Singh was born in Hadali District Khushab, Punjab (which now lies in Pakistan), in a Sikh family.

His father, Sir Sobha Singh was a prominent builder in Lutyens' Delhi, while his uncle, Sardar Ujjal Singh (1895-1983) was the former governor of Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

Singh edited Yojana, an Indian government journal; The Illustrated Weekly of India, a newsweekly; and two major Indian newspapers, The Herald and the Hindustan Times.

During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India's pre-eminent news weekly, with its circulation raising from 65,000 to 400000.

After working for nine years in the weekly, on 25 July 1978, a week before he was to retire, the management asked Singh to leave "with immediate effect".

A new editor was installed the same day.

After Singh's departure, the weekly suffered a huge drop in readership.

From 1980 through 1986, Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. He was awarded the 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.

In 2007, the Indian Government awarded the Padma Vibhushan.

His works ranged 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 contained secular exhortations and messages of peace.

In addition, he was one of the last remaining writers to have personally known most of the stalwart writers and poets of Urdu and Punjabi languages, and he profiled his recently deceased contemporaries in his column.

As a public figure, Singh was accused of favoring the ruling Congress party, especially during the reign of Indira Gandhi. He was derisively termed as an Establishment Liberal.

Singh's faith in the Indian political system was shaken by events such as anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination.

He, however,remained resolutely positive on the promise of Indian democracy and worked via the Citizen's Justice Committee floated by advocate H. S. Phoolka.

He was married to Kawal Malik, and is survived by his son Rahul, and daughter Mala.

First Published: Thu, March 20 2014. 13:56 IST