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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

Dr. M.S. Randhawa ICS

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Dr. Mohinder Singh Randhawa played a significant role in improving the economy of Punjab State, planning and development of Chandigarh, Green Revolution, and rehabilitation of displaced people during the partition of India in 1947. He was a Punjabi civil servant, botanist, historian, art and culture prompter, and a prominent writer. Dr. Randhawa published many research papers on algae and 33 books on art, history, culture, and agriculture.

Dr. Randhawa was born on February 2, 1909 into a Jat Sikh family at Zira, district Ferozpur but his native village is Bodalan, district Hoshiarpur. He matriculated from Khalsa High School Muktsar in 1924, and M Sc (Hons) Botany in 1930 from Government College Lahore. He obtained a Doctoral degree from Punjab University Chandigarh in 1955. Randhawa was selected for the Indian Civil Services ( ICS ) in 1934 and was allotted UP cadre. He was posted Deputy Commissioner, Delhi, by Sardar Patel during the partition. As deputy commissioner, he made all the arrangements for the historic event on August 15, 1947, when Jawahar Lal Nehru unfurled the Tricolour flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi and delivered his famous " Tryst with Destiny" speech.

In 1953, he was appointed as the Development Commissioner, and Commissioner Rehabilitation and Custodian, Evacuee Property Punjab. He played an important role along with Sardar Partap Singh Kairon in allotting land and houses to those who had left behind land in Pakistan during partition in 1947. In 1955, he was made Vice President of India Council of Agricultural Research (I C A R ). He also served as an Advisor to the Natural Resources Planning Commission.

Dr. Randhawa was appointed The Chief Commissioner of the union territory Chandigarh in 1966. He was Chairman of the Committee to plan the city of Chandigarh in 1955. He planned the landscaping of Chandigarh and established Chandigarh Museum, Punjabi Arts Council and Museum of Cultural Heritage of Punjab at Ludhiana, Rose Gardens at Chandigarh and Ludhiana, Government Museum and Art Gallery Chandigarh and Anglo Sikh Wars Memorial Ferozpur.

Dr. Randhawa is considered the backbone of the economy of undivided Punjab. He played an important role in preparing the ground for the Green Revolution. He suggested the government to develop Punjab Agricultural University, Bhakra Dam, roads network and electrification in villages. He was appointed as Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University in 1968. He sent many scientists for higher education to America to get the latest technology and motivated the scientists to work hard during his tenure ( 1968-1978 ). It was very common to work in the evening and late-night in laboratories. Randhawa was such an impressive personality that everyone obeyed him and worked religiously and efficiently. He never punished anyone and all the employees respected him very much. He had good contacts with Sardar Partap Singh Kairon, Pandit Nehru, and Sardar Patel. Sardar Lashman Singh Gill Chief Minister of Punjab asked Dr. Randhawa to give some tips to develop Punjab State. Dr. Randhawa suggested to him to connect all the villages and towns with roads and this will be his real contribution and Gill did it. In this way canals, electricity, tube wells, roads and agricultural scientists like Dr. D S Athwal and his team played a significant role in Green Revolution. The development of wheat varieties like Kalyan and P V 18 was the beginning of the Green Revolution.

He has written many books: 1 The Birth of Himalaya (1947). 2. Beautifying India (1950). 3. Out of the Ashes; an account of rehabilitation of refugees from West Pakistan in a rural area of East Punjab. (1954) 4 Flowering Trees (1957). 5. Agriculture Research in India (1958) 6. Basohli Paintings 1959) 7 Zygnemaceae ( ICAR monographs on Algae )1959. 8. Farmers of India with Premnath (1959) 9. India Paintings: the scene, themes, and legends with Johan Kenneth Galbraith Hamilton (1961). 10. Beautiful Trees and Gardens (1961). 11. Kangra Paintings on Love 1962). 12. Agriculture and Animal husbandry in India (1962). 13. Natural resources of India (1963). 14. Chamba Painting (1967). 15. Travels in the Western Himalaya (1967) 16. Evolution of Life (1969). 17. The Kumaon Himalaya (1970) 18 Kangra Ragmala Paintings (1971). 19 Beautiful Gardens (1971). 20. The famous Gardens of India (1971). 21. Kangra Valley Painting (1972). 22. Green Revolution (1973). 23. Travels in the Western Himalaya in search of Paintings (1974). 24. Gardens through the ages (1976). 25. A History of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research 1929-1979 (1979). 26. Kishangarh Paintings (1980). 27. A History of Agriculture in India volume 4 ( 1980-1986) 28 Punjab (Punjabi Ed) 1980. 29. Basohli Paintings of the Rasamanjari (1981). 30. Guler Paintings (1982). 31. Paintings of the Babar Nama(1983). 32. Indian Sculpture: the scene, themes, and legends (1985) 33. Indian Paintings: exploration, research, and publications (1986)

Dr. Randhawa died on March 3, 1986, at his farmhouse at Village Kharar. The library at Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana is named in his honour and maintain a collection of his work and laboratory instruments used by him. He had translated the cultural soul of Punjab through literary, art, and cultural activities. Sometimes he visited his village and sat with his old friends on "charpie" near the water channel of the tube well and gossip for hours. He loved village life. Mostly he stayed at the farmhouse at village Kharar instead of Chandigarh. In the evening he usually walked around the University ( PAU ) and kept a watch on lawns, flowers, buildings, and experimental area. He had good health and impressive glamour on his face. I have many evergreen memories of Dr. Randhawa when he visited many times at PAU Sugarcane Research Station Jalandhar and had meetings with all the Scientists in the library. Dr Randhawa is considered the sixth river of Punjab. Let us not forget him and his outstanding contributions to Undivided Punjab.

Reference: M S Randhawa Library, Punjab Agricultural University.

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