RĀJINDER SIṄGH (1932-1995), or Qaumī Ektā (both had become synonymous), was born on 9 October 1932 at Maṇḍī Bahāuddīn. Qaumī Ektā and its editor Sardār Rājinder Siṅgh were two reflections of one single reality. One could not be dissected from the other. Nor was it possible to analyse or evaluate them separately. Both had become part of one indivisible reality. If one was mentioned in a particular context the other name got repeated inevitably in the next. At a very young age Rājinder Siṅgh had made his name widely known. In Punjabi letters and journalism, none dared interrupt him in his march forward. Nor did he own to any difficulty or obstacle.
The niche Rājinder Siṅgh had carved out for himself in Punjabi journalism at an unbelievably young age was indeed unprecedented. Gurbakhsh Siṅgh of the Preet Laṛī had imparted to Punjabi writing a fresh flavour. He was the originator of a new style. With him were born many a new construction and idiom. Likewise, Rājinder Siṅgh was the monarch of many styles. Whatever came to his pen he recorded fearlessly and unhesitatingly. There was much newness and originality in it. On Punjabi he bestowed a completely new style of political writing. He bottled into it the bitterness of neem leaves; also, the sweetness of elixir. This unexpected mixture of moods conferred upon Punjabi writing a new power and energy. Cheek by jowl with his soft words lay his sword-cuts. The many splendoured strokes which came to Punjabi via Rājinder Siṅgh’s pen had a feather-like quality mixed with his lethal thrusts. The language received from no other writer this manner of variety. He made the maximum use of his literary powers and drew the last ounce of energy from these. He did not have the slightest difficulty in switching over from one mood to the other. This elasticity and freshness of colour were Rājinder Siṅgh's permanent assets.
Rājinder Siṅgh had been an avid reader of newspapers from the very outset. He was still a school-going youth when he diligently went through all the Punjabi and Urdu newspapers that came to his small town of Maṇḍī Bahāuddīn. Then came partition of the country. Rājinder Siṅgh developed an entirely new interest. That was in meeting and befriending important personalities of the day. He was soon able to make friends with India's prime-minister, Jawāharlāl Nehrū. He was a pastmaster in cultivating men in high places. He was very knowledgeable about local politics and he was a fetching conversationalist. He never went to meet anyone without rehearsing his words. He never failed to win the trust of others. Jawāharlāl Nehrū became especially enamoured of him. Like him he was able to win the implicit trust of Partāp Siṅgh Kairoṅ, Giānī Gurmukh Siṅgh Musāfir and Giānī Kartār Siṅgh. All of them admired his sharpness of mind and gave him their fullest confidence. With some of them he talked almost on equal terms. He could cut jokes with them. He felt inferior talking to no one. His confidence in himself was amazing. In the company of Jawāharlāl Nehrū he felt on very easy terms and this relationship continued through at least three generations. After Jawāharlāl Nehrū it was his daughter, Indira Gāndhī, and then his grandson, Rājīv. Once he was coming to Paṭiālā but was summoned by Rājīv before he reached Paṭiālā. In his characteristically informal manner he said to Rājīv that he was looking so handsome that day that had he been a girl he would have abducted her to a place beyond the reach of everyone. He was very fearless and outspoken. Fear he did not know.
He could be on similarly familiar terms with his other friends. Among them could be counted Harinder Siṅgh of Rājā Sāṅsī, Harcharan Siṅgh Ajnālā, Naraiṇ Siṅgh Shāhbāzpurī, Mubārak Siṅgh and Iqbāl Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā. Their endless barrage of witticisms was always a source of great elight for the listeners. But never was a single harsh or uncivil word uttered by anyone.
Rājinder Siṅgh broke into journalism when he was a mere boy in his teens. He had no literary experience. Nor any familiarity with the technique. Yet, he launched forth undaunted. He had one or two issues of the paper written by proxy. But he was not happy with what he saw. Then he went ahead on his own. The results were dramatic. The first issue that came out proved a tremendous hit. The layout and presentation were most attractive. The writing was punchy. The editor and the paper became famous overnight. The weekly became the talk of the town. There was but one question, one and only one question on the lips of the readers. "Have you seen the Qaumī Ektā of this week?" "Did you read this week's Qaumī Ektā?" This was the query on all lips.
In those days the paper was a weekly publication. Turning the weekly paper into a monthly was a major decision for the editor to make. He discussed the question with several of his friends. He took his friends to the choicest hotels. He was a very good host and loved to entertain friends. As a monthly paper the Qaumī Ektā, established its credentials still more firmly. Its special numbers were got up with taste. They won wide renown. Several of the well-known writers had made a custom of keeping them on their files. Numbers such as those on Sikh Mahārājās and Sikh Music were expertly made up. They will count as most significant contributions to Punjabi letters. Likewise; Rājinder Siṅgh's special number brought out in memory of Sardār Partāp Siṅgh Kāiroṅ was a historic issue. Whatever Rājinder Siṅgh touched with his pen, turned into gold. He gave it a new form and new look. He established the tone of Punjabi idiom and imparted to it a new form and polish.
Rājīnder Siṅgh died in Delhi on 1 September1995.
Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā