The Tribune - Spectrum

, April 28, 2002

A tribute to Dr M.S. Randhawa
Jaspal Singh

GULZAR Singh Sandhu is a well-known short story writer of Punjabi. He has also worked as an editor of two Punjabi dailies published from Chandigarh. A recipient of the coveted Sahitya Akademy Award for his contribution to Punjabi short story, he has worked in responsible positions in many literary and cultural organisations. In addition to six collections of short stories, he has brought out two collections of prose, the latest being Mera Punjab ate Meri Patarkari, which was commented upon by a number of reviewers both in Punjabi and English. Now he has edited a book on Dr M.S. Randhawa, known as the father of the Green Revolution in Punjab. The book, published by Navyug Publishers, New Delhi, bears an appropriate title. Punjab da Chhewan Dariya (The sixth river of Punjab). It is a collection of 10 longish articles, interviews and some impressions about the personality of Dr Randhawa by some contemporary writers.

The main articles are by illustrious writers including Amrita Pritam, Kartar Singh Duggal, Khushwant Singh, Dalip Kaur Tiwana, Prof Pritam Singh, Balwant Gargi, Mohan Bhandari and Mulk Raj Anand.

The project to do a book on Dr Randhawa was sponsored by Punjab Arts Council of which he was the founder. The beautiful structure to house the council near the Rose Garden, Chandigarh, was raised under his direct supervision.


Dr Randhawa’s native village was Bodlan in Hoshiarpur district, though he was born at Zira (now in district Muktsar), on February 2, 1909. He had his early education at Khalsa High School, Mukatsar while he earned a M.Sc. in Botany from the famous Government College, Lahore. He was selected for Indian Civil Service (ICS) in 1934 and was allotted to U.P. cadre. He was posted as Deputy Commissioner, Delhi, by Sardar Patel during the Partition. As Deputy Commissioner, he made all arrangements for the historic event of August 15, 1947, when at the destined hour, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the Tricolour from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi and delivered his famous "Tryst with Destiny" speech.

One can well imagine the kind of responsibility of being the Deputy Commissioner of Delhi during those turbulent days when historical events of global significance were unfolding in the the nation’s Capital and hundreds of thousand badly mauled refugees had descended up on the city from across the Radcliffe Line.

After sometime Dr Randhawa was appointed Director General Rehabilitation at Jalandhar where he performed the most daunting task of rehabilitating lakhs of migrants from Pakistan allotting them lands and residences left behind by the evacuees in Punjab. As the Vice-President of Indian Council for Agricultural Research, he guided all the research that later on was too bloom into the Green Revolution in Punjab.

Dr Randhawa’s contribution as the founder Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh Union Territory and as Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana has indeed been great.

The most interesting part in this book in the one comprising three interviews given by Mrs Iqbal Kaur Randhawa 86, wife of Dr Randhawa, Bhapa Pritam Singh, proprietor of Navyug Publishers, New Delhi and Mr K. L. Malhotra Dr Randhawa’s secretary. This is a very intimate autobiographical writing that throws a lot of light on the varied spectrum of Dr Randhawa’s personality. Other beautiful pieces as mentioned above are by some of the most popular contemporary writers. As an administrator Dr Randhawa’s acumen was universally recognised though no less important was his contribution as a agricultural scientist or as a connoisseur of art and painting or as a culture scientist and folklorist and as a builder and promoter of institutions.

As a writer some of his books like Beautifying India, Beautiful Trees and Gardens, History of Indian Agriculture (4 vols), Developing Village India, Farmers of India (4 vols, in collaboration) nine collections of Kangra, Basoli and Chamba paintings, four collections of folksongs of Punjab, Kangra, Kullu and Haryana are of lasting value. Many young administrators and intellectuals have not even heard of the legend called M. S. Randhawa who has rightly earned the sobriquet of being the "Sixth river of Punjab". This is a title that once was used for Prof Puran Singh, a great Punjabi poet and thinker. In the history of administration and intellection in this region, Dr Randhawa was a unique.

Only because of his untiring efforts, Chandigarh Museum, Punjab Arts Council and Museum of Cultural Heritage of Punjab at Ludhiana could be built.

Even Nek Chand, the creator of Rock Gardens Chandigarh had Dr Randhawa’s unstinted support and patronage in the early years of this great creation. Many beautiful trees and plants now adorning roads and open spaces in Chandigarh were brought by Dr Randhawa. The city owes a lot to this great son of Punjab. Gulzar Singh Sandhu has done a sincere job as a votary of Dr Randhawa by collecting all these interesting write-ups and getting them published in an attractive form.