BHĀLENDRA SIṄGH, RĀJĀ (1919-1992), distinguished cricketer and India's longest lasting sports executive, was born on 19 August 1919, the son of Lieutenant-General Mahārājā Sir Bhūpinder Siṅgh, the glamorous princely ruler of the state of Paṭiālā in Southern Punjab. Brought up in the lap of luxury, Bhālendra Siṅgh shot up into a tall, handsome and lissom young man, with remarkable prowess in several branches of athletics. When his elder brother Yādavinder Siṅgh, the heir-apparent of Paṭiālā state, was getting ready to don colours for India against Lord Tennyson's team (1937-38), Bhālendra Siṅgh was playing cricket for Southern Punjab, a formidable outfit, which claimed among its members famous cricketers of the day, such as Nissār, Amīr Alāhī and L. Amar Nāth who later rose to be India's Test captain.
Bhālendra Siṅgh was educated at the Aitchison College, Lahore, where, besides cricket, he distinguished himself in riding, polo and tennis. The Mahārājā of Paṭiālā had ace cricketers such as Col Mistry and Frank Tarrant, the Australian, to train his children. He also had famous Sikh scholars, notably Paṇḍit Rām Basant Siṅgh, to teach them the religious canon of their faith. Bhālendra Siṅgh was exceptionally well prepared to excel in study as well as in sports. He worked as hard as he played. He proved first rate in athletics, tennis, swimming, shooting and angling. Very rarely in the history of the College had any one prince displayed such notable proficiency in so many diverse fields of sportsmanship. Bhālendra Siṅgh succeeded in doing all this without any detriment to his academic work. He was not greatly interested in shikār or gun-dogs - two activities to which his father was passionately attached. His own interests were finally divided between cricket and tennis. Another of his major interests was Indian classical music. A favourite hobby was cooking and he also turned out a book of recipes. He spent a time at Cambridge University where he continued to play first-grade cricket, excelling as a slow bowler. Slow bowling had always been his forte.
After India's Independence, Bhālendra Siṅgh held important positions in national sports. He was for many an year associated with the amateur Athletic Federation of India, the Swimming Federation of India and the Indian Hockey Federation. In 1947, he became a life member of the International Olympic Committee and in 1959 he was elected president of Indian Olympic Association which office he continued to hold until 1975. He had another term in that office, 1980 to 1984. He was the architect of the Asian Games movement and was the moving figure behind the Asiad held in New Delhi during 1982. At the opening ceremonies of the Games he shared the podium with the President of India, Giānī Zail Siṅgh. Rājā Bhālendra Siṅgh had occupied with outstanding efficiency some high ranking positions in the civil administration of Paṭiālā state. He had been working in the Home and Education departments of Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) as secretary until its amalgamation with the Punjab. Rājā Bhālendra Siṅgh was known for his exceptionally genteel and refined manner. His finesse and urbanity of speech were unmatched.
Rājā Bhālendra Siṅgh died in Delhi on 16 April 1992.
Rājinder Siṅgh; Qaumī Ektā