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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

Sardar Partap Singh Kairon

Sardar Partap Singh Kairon was considered the most efficient and progressive chief minister of Punjab. He is widely acknowledged as the architect of the undivided Punjab state (including Haryana and Himachal Pradesh). Kairon did compulsory consolidation, checking floods by bunds on both sides of rivers and streams, and solved the water lodging problem by making drains.

Early life Partap Singh Kairon was born on 1st October 1901 into a Jat Sikh family in village Kairon in Amritsar district. He studied at Col. Brown Cambridge School in Dehradun and Khalsa College Amritsar and then went to the United States for further studies. He received his Master's Degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters Degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan. He was impressed by industries and farming methods practiced in USA and hoped to replicate the same in India later.

Political career Sardar Partap Singh Kairon returned to India in 1929. On 13 April 1932, he started an English language weekly paper called The New Era in Amritsar. He joined politics and the newspaper eventually shutdown. He was first a member of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and later the Indian National Congress. He was jailed in 1932 for five years for participating in civil disobedience. Kairon sahib entered the Punjab Legislative Assembly as an Akali nominee in 1937. From 1941 to 1946, he was the General Secretary of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee. He was jailed again in the 1942 Quit India Movement and was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946. After independence in1947, Partap Singh Kairon held various offices in the elected state government including Rehabilitation Minister, Development Minister (1947 -1949), and Chief Minister from 21 January 1956 to 23 June 1964. As Minister for Rehabilitation immediately after the partition of India, Kairon handled the task of resettlement of millions of refugees who had migrated from Pakistan. Over three million migrated people were resettled in Punjab (India) by allotment of dwelling, employments, and land distribution, in a very short period of time. Kairon made significant contributions to the all-around development of Punjab. His special contribution was in the field of consolidation of fragmented land and creating an irrigation network both through canals and tube wells. He popularized the rearing and consumption of poultry in Punjab. Sardar Partap Singh succeeded in restoring communal harmony, opposing both the Punjabi Suba and the language movement. He was interested in a large and united Punjab so that the province remain viable and self-sufficient. The untimely death of Pandit Nehru and Sardar Kairon made possible the division of Punjab. Partap Singh placed Punjab on the industrial map of India. He invited industrialists such as Oswals and Jaijees to invest in the state. Kairon set up Punjab for prosperity by preparing the ground for the Green Revolution and different industries. He boosted higher education with Punjab Agricultural University (three campuses Ludhiana, Hisar, and Palampur), Kurukshetra University, and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. He played a prominent role in the construction of the Bhakra Dam and it made it possible to electrify and have an irrigation system of the state. Renowned American planner and architect Albert Mayer was tasked to design Chandigarh in 1949 and it was completed in 1960. He also helped in establishing the industrial township of Faridabad, a major industrial hub. He established industry at Batala and Gurain. He played important role in establishing roads, fertilizer factory, sugar factory at Duhri, HMT factory at Pinjore, dairy farming, and setting up the Karnal Project. I have unforgettable memories of Sardar Partap Singh Kairon when he delivered a very impressive and motivational lecture during the annual function at Khalsa College Amritsar in 1962. I belong to the Adampur area in the Jalandhar district. This area is prone to floods and every year floods destroy the chief crops. Kairon gave strict orders to make bund on both sides of Nasrala Choo definitely before the rainy season and it happened. This type of work was done all over the Punjab State. Farmers of Punjab really worship Sardar Kairon, who always took a keen interest in the development of the state. Punjab per capita income in 1961-62 was Rupees 401 as compared to India's average of Rupees 293. It happened as people had been given consolidated land, electricity, factories, and roads. Kairon made Leh a district and provided roads and introduced potato cultivation and significantly improved the local agrarian economy. During the china war in 1962 Kairon made a singular contribution in mobilizing the masses in gathering gold from the villagers for the national war. Punjab made the biggest contribution of gold to the nation's treasury. Nehru said there is not another man who can measure up to Sardar Partap Singh Kairon in the whole of India. I had seen millions of people weeping at the death of Sardar Kairon (1964) and Nehru (1963) but after that, it never happened at the death of any politician, perhaps no one could reach the level of Kairon and Nehru. Let us not forget Kairon and Nehru and other freedom fighters. It is time to learn from our freedom fighters to be sincere to our country.

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