MOHAN SINGH, SARDAR BAHADUR
MOHAN SINGH, SARDAR BAHADUR (1897-1961), aesthete, philanthropist and privy counsellor, was born on 6 June 1897 at Rawalpindi in a family of note founded by Sadhu Singh (d. 1798), who under Sardar Milkha Singh Thehpuria, founder of present town of Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan), was entrusted with the duty of providing rations for the Sikh troops. Sadhu Singh`s son, Buddha Singh (d. 1841), was a revenue official during the Sikh rule and was awarded a share in the octroi collections, later comput.cd into the grant of village Misnot in Rawalpindi tahsll.
Buddha Singh`s son and great grand father of Sardar Bahadur Mohan Singh, Nand Singh (d. 1871), increased his estate to several villages held in jdgir, besides cash assignments, but at annexation of the Punjab to the British empire in 1849 he was deprived of all except Misriot for his anti British role during the second AngloSikh war. Subsequently, for his cooperation with the new regime, especially during the 1857 mutiny, he was granted another village, Mauza Khatriari. Nand Singh was also made a provincial darbdnor courtier. His son, Sujan Singh (d. 1901) was awarded the title of Sardar in 1888 and of Rai Bahadur in the following year. Mohan Singh was the younger of the two sons of Sardar Hardit Singh (d. 1904), the elder being Sohan Singh.
He had lost his mother when he was only a few months old and his father died when he was seven years. The estate was placed under a court of wards. Mohan Singh received his schooling at the Khalsa Collegiate School, Amritsar (1905-07), before he joined the Aitchison College, Lahore, from where he passed out in 1917 as the year`s best allround student. He completed his university education at Government College, Lahore, in 1919. He had been married on 3 May 1916, to Lajvanti, daughter of Diwan Bahadur Pindi Das Sabharval, a noted lawyer of his time. He had been admitted to the rites of the Khalsa, on 26 November 1916, at the hands of the renowned Sant Atar Singh of Mastuana.
He became a member of the Chief Khalsa Diwan in October 1914, and was its honorary joint secretary, 1922 to 1925. Sardar Mohan Singh stepped into politics in September 1930 when he was elected unopposed to the Punjab Legislative Council. He was member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India, London, in 1935-40; member of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province Public Service Commission in 194347 and chairman of the Public Service Commission of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union in 1948-56. In recognition of his public service, he was awarded the title of Sardar Bahadur in 1931 and was appointed Companion of the Indian Empire (C.I.E.) in 1941.
Sardar Bahadur Mohan Singh was associated in various capacities with several social and welfare organizations such as Red Cross Society, the Boy Scouts and Temperance League. He was on the boards of directors of numerous joint stock companies and was chairman of some of them. In 1941, he established a plywood factory at Lahore, the first of its kind in Northern India. His deeper interest, however, lay in Sikh religion. He had translated the Japu and Asd ki Vdr into English while still a student. He was a staunch advocate of women`s education and encouraged the establishment of girls schools. He was president of the managing committees of Khalsa High Schools at Rawalpindi, Murree and Kallar.
He was chairman of the reception committee for the 18th Sikh Educational Conference held at Rawalpindi in 1927 and presided over the 19th Conference held at Montgomery in April 1928. He became a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 1930. He was widely admired and revered among Sikh savants of the day such as Bhai Vir Singh, Sant Sarigat Singh of Kamalia, Pandit Gurdit Singh, Sant Nischal Singh and Bhai Kahn Singh of Nabha. The partition of the country in 1947 forced Sardar Bahadur Mohan Singh to migrate to Delhi leaving behind all of his urban property. This included his precious library and collection of antiques gathered over the years from all over the globe. He died suddenly but peacefully at Rishikesh on 27 December 1961.