SURJĪT SIṄGH MAJĪṬHĪĀ (1912-1995) with acquiline features and large luminous eyes as a very handsome-looking man. He cut an extraordinarily impressive figure on the field of sport. Alert and agile, he was a cricketer of considerable repute. Besides, he filled several leadership roles in the social and political spheres of life. He was a ranking politician, parliamentarian and diplomat.
He was educated at the Khālsā College at Amritsar, an institution which his forbears had reared with singular love and dedication. His father, Sardār Sundar Siṅgh Majīṭhīā, who had been a member of the Imperial Council and subsequently a cabinet minister in the Punjab government was a leading figure in the Sikh awakening at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was the son of Rājā Sūrat Siṅgh who had suffered detention at the hands of the British upon he occupation of the Punjab by them.
Sir Sundar Siṅgh, by his thrift and acumen had built up a big industrial estate. Into this opulent family, was Surjīt Siṅgh born on 8 August 1912. Debonair and athletically inclined, he went through his college courses comfortably, playing cricket and tennis.
Surjīt Siṅgh was married into the old family of the Wazīrs of the princely state of Nābhā. His father-in-law, General Shivdev Siṅgh was a wealthy landlord, wealthiest in the Punjab in crisp money as the legend then ran. His father was keen that his children grow up as true Sikhs, faithful to their religious tenets and customs. Surjit Siṅgh did not disappoint him. He was not enthusiastic about the tiger hunt parties hosted by his eldest brother Kirpāl Siṅgh Majīṭhīā, who was a leading shikārī of his day. Nor was he much inclined to cultivate the company of his first cousin, the fabulous Amritā Sher-gil (1913-1941), the painter, and her husband Dr. Victor Egan, who was a medical doctor in her father's factory.
Fresh from his college, Surjīt Siṅgh Majīthīā entered the Indian Air Force and reached the rank of Squadron Leader. Taking out his discharge from the Air Force, he became a member of the Central Legislative Assembly in 1945. From 1947 to 1949 he was India's ambassador to the neighbouring country of Nepal. He participated in elections to the first Lok Sabhā, i.e. Indian Parliament, which took place in 1952 and which he won comfortably. He won his parliamentary seat again in 1957 as well as in 1962. From 1952 to 1962 he served as India's deputy defence minister. He was President of the Wrestling Federation of India from 1964 to 1976 and President, Cricket Control Board of India from 1956 to 1958. He became the first President of the Yachting Association of India when it was established in 1960. In 1944 he became President of Khālsā College, Amritsar. He continued in the office for upwards of three decades.
Surjīt Siṅgh Majīṭhīā died in Delhi on 27 September 1995.
Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā