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Renowned diplomat and distinguished scholar of Dogra land, Dr. Karan Singh turns 90

Visionary statesman with multifarious personality, Dr. Karan Singh is not only a great philanthropist, writer and musician but also a well-known poet and writer.

He was born to Maharaja Hari Singh and Maharani Tara Devi in Cannes, France on 9 March, 1931. He was home-schooled from the age of 6-11 years old and later sent to Doon School, Dehradun for primary education. He completed his Bachelor's in Arts in the year 1952 from Kashmir University and finished his Masters in Political Science from University of Delhi in 1957. He received his Ph.D from Banaras Hindu University in 1961. He submitted his doctorate thesis on Sri Aurobindo-Prophet of Indian Nationalism.

In 1950, the 19-year-old Yuvraj Karan Singh married 13-year-old Yasho Rajya Lakhsmi, daughter of General Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana and granddaughter of Maharaja Mohan Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana, the Prime Minister of Nepal.

At the young age of 18, Dr. Karan Singh was appointed Regent by Maharaja Hari Singh. And as the Constitution was finally framed in 1952, he was elected by the Constituent Assembly as Sadar-i-Riyasat and got re-elected in 1957 and 1962. He also holds the distinction of becoming the first Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in 1965. The post of Sadar-i-Riyasat was converted into Governor through a Presidential Order in 1965. He left the post of Governor in 1967 as he joined the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's cabinet as Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation. For the next 10 years, he held various important portfolios like Health and Family Planning, and Education and Culture. And finally in 1989, he was appointed as India's Ambassador to the United States of America.

Dr. Karan Singh carved a way for the Dogra identity on the national and international stage. He formed Dogri-Himachal Sanskriti Sangam in 1966 with the aim to reinforce cultural identities. He has always worked immensely on the promotion and conservation of Dogra culture keeping it away from political agendas.Time and again, he has spoken vividly about the valour, heroic bravery of Dogra soldiers and cultural pride of Duggar land.

He has dedicated Amar Mahal museum and Library for the revival of Dogra culture as a gift to the society for admiring their identity with passion. With an exhibition of more than 31,000 books in the library, future scholars can surely contribute to the revival of Dogri literature. Dr. Karan Singh has authored more than 20 books. And his contribution over the years for the inclusion of Dogri language in the Eight Schedule of the Indian Constitution cannot be forgotten by the people of Duggar land. He has not only contributed in the construction of First Tunnel at Vaishno Devi Bhawan, Karra but also built Dharmarth Trust to construct and renovate hundreds of old temples across Jammu and Kashmir. Owing to his close bonding to the people in J&K, massive developments like construction of Salal Project and extension of railway line from Pathankot to Jammu took place under his tenure.

Dr. Karan Singh also founded India Forum and People's Commission on Environment and Development, International Centre for Science, Consciousness and Culture and served as Head of Project Tiger, Vice-Chairman to Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund and President to ICCR in 2005.

Dr. Karan Singh received many honours including King George V Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935, King George VI Coronation Medal in 1937 and Padma Vibhushan, second highest civilian award of the Republic of India in 2005.

Dr. Karan Singh's contribution towards the development and conservation of Dogri culture has no match and today, as he turns 90, youngsters must follow his advice to take pride in their identities and protect all aspects related to it.



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Hardeep Bali