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UJJAL SINGH, SARDAR

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UJJAL SINGH, SARDAR (1895-1983), parliamentarian, expert in finance and governor, was the younger of the two sons of Sujan Singh and Lakshmi Devi, a family that traced their ancestry back to Bhai Sangat Singh, one of the Chamkaur Sahib martyrs dying with two of Guru Gobind Singh`s elder sons in 1705. A tradesman by profession, Sujan Singh turned to real estate. He came by much prosperity this way. In his till then little known village of Hadali, Ujjal Singh was born on 27 December 1895 in Sindh Sagar Doab of the Punjab (now in Pakistan). His education began in the conventional way.

From the Gurmukhi school he went to Makatab madarsa to learn Urdu and Persian. He then went to the Khalsa Collegiate School at Amritsar. He finished his University education at Government College Lahore, where he received his Master`s degree in history. He distinguished himself as a sportsman and excelled in hockey. He was a member of the college Hockey XI. From the University he went to the family`s farms and orchards in Sargodha district. Attracted by the opportunities offered by work in the new city of Delhi, then under construction, his father and elder brother moved to Delhi.

Ujjal Singh remained behind to manage the vast family acreage in Multan district which extended from one railway station, Mian Channu, to the next, Kot Sujan Singh named after his father. He also exhibited interest in Sikh political affairs and was elected a member of the Punjab Legislative Council in 1926. He retained the constituency till after the independence of India. Till 1956, he continued to be a member without a break. In 1956 he was appointed a member of the Finance Commission. He also became a member of the first Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

He was Parliamentary Secretary (Home) in the Unionist ministry in Punjab from 1937 to 1942, when he resigned during the Quit India movement. He was nominated as a Sikh representative to the 1st and 2nd Round Table Conferences held in London to discuss constitutional reforms for India, and was also a member of the Viceroy`s Consultative Committee on Reforms, but he resigned in August 1932 as a protest against the Communal Award which had been rejected by the Sikhs because it had ignored their interests as an important minority. UJjal Singh was also a member of the Sikh delegation that submitted a memorandum to Sir Stafford Cripps in March 1942.

He was chosen by the government to be one of the Indian delegates to United Nations` Conference on Food and Agriculture held in Quebec (Canada) in 1945. In 1946 he was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly for preparing a constitution for free India. As a consequence of the Partition, 1947, Ujjal Singh had to abandon his vast estates in Pakistan and cross over to India as a homeless refugee. For a time he found shelter with his elder brother, Sir Sobha Singh, in Delhi and then bought a house of his own in Mashobra (Shimla).

He was reelected to the newly constituted Legislative Council of East Punjab and served as Minister of Industries and Civil Supplies, and again as Finance and Industries Minister between 1949 and 1956. He was a member of the Second Finance Commission set up by Government of India from June 1956 to September 1957, a member of Punjabi University Commission set up in 1960, Governor of Punjab from 1 September 1965 to 27 June 1966 and Governor of Tamil Nadu from 28 June 1966 to 25 May 1971. Sardar Ujjal Singh died in his New Delhi residence on 15 February 1983.

References :

1. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, vol. II. Princeton, 1966
2. Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People (1469-1978). Delhi, 1979
3. Bajwa, Harcharan Singh, Fifty Years of Punjab Politics (1920-1970). Chandigarh, 1979
4. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1994

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