Khushwant Singh born 2 February 1915 in Hadali, British India, now in Punjab, Pakistan, is a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country.
An important Indo-Anglian novelist, Singh is 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 are laced with acid wit. He served as editor of several well-known literary and news magazines, as well as two major broadsheet newspapers, through the 1970s and 1980s
Singh was educated at Government College, Lahore and St. Stephen's College in Delhi before reading for the Bar at King's College London. His father, Sir Sobha Singh, was a prominent builder in Lutyens' Delhi.
In August 1947, days before the partition of India and Pakistan, Singh, then a lawyer practicing in the High Court in Lahore, drove to his family's summer cottage at Kasauli in the foothills of the Himalayas. Continuing on to Delhi along 200 miles of strangely vacant road, he came upon a Jeep full of armed Sikhs who boasted that they had just massacred a village of Muslims. Such experiences were to be powerfully distilled in Singh's 1956 novel Train to Pakistan. (The 2006 edition of Train to Pakistan, published by Roli Books in New Delhi, also contains 66 photographs by Margaret Bourke-White that capture the partition's violent aftermath.)
Singh has edited Yojana, an Indian government journal; The Illustrated Weekly of India, a newsweekly; and two major Indian newspapers, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times. During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India's pre-eminent newsweekly. After Singh's departure, it suffered a huge drop in readership.
From 1980 through 1986, Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. Awarded the Padma Bhushan 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. Undeterred, in 2007 the Indian government awarded Singh an even more prestigious honor, the Padma Vibhushan.
A self-proclaimed agnostic, lover of fine scotch whiskey and admirer of female beauty, he nonetheless leads a very disciplined life, waking up at 4 am each day and continuing to write his columns by hand. His works range 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 contains secular exhortations and messages of peace, brotherhood and tolerance. In addition, he is one of the last remaining writers to have personally known most of the stalwart writers and poets of Urdu and Punjabi languages, and profiles his recently deceased contemporaries in his column. One of the most striking aspects of his weekly writings is his outright honesty; he will openly admit to his weaknesses and mistakes, along with an acceptance of his declining health and physical abilities in more recent times.
As a public figure, Singh has been accused of favoring the ruling Congress party, especially during the reign of Indira Gandhi. He is better viewed as an establishment liberal. Singh's faith in secular forces has been shaken by events such as anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination, in which major Congress politicians were alleged to be involved. But he has remained resolutely positive on the promise of Indian democracy.
The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, 1950
The History of Sikhs, 1953
Train to Pakistan, 1956
The Voice of God and Other Stories, 1957
I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, 1959
The Sikhs Today, 1959
The Fall of the Kingdom of the Punjab, 1962
• A History of the Sikhs, 1963
Ranjit Singh: The Maharajah of the Punjab, 1963
Ghadar 1915: India's first armed revolution, 1966
A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories, 1967
Black Jasmine, 1971
Tragedy of Punjab, 1984
Delhi: A Novel, 1990
Sex, Scotch and Scholarship: Selected Writings, 1992
Not a Nice Man to Know: The Best of Khushwant Singh, 1993
We Indians, 1993
Women and Men in My Life, 1995
Uncertain Liaisons; Sex, Strife and Togetherness in Urban India,1995
The Company of Women, 1999
Truth, Love and a Little Malice(an autobiography), 2002
With Malice towards One and All
The End of India, 2003
Burial at the Sea, 2004
Paradise and Other Stories, 2004
Death at My Doorstep, 2005
Padma Bhushan, Government of India (1974)
Honest Man of the Year, Sulabh International (2000)
Punjab Rattan Award, The Government of Punjab (2006)