Baldev Singh bigraphy, stories - Indian politician

Baldev Singh : biography

1902 - 1961

Baldev Singh () was an Indian Sikh political leader, he was an Indian independence movement leader and the first Defence Minister of India. Moreover, he represented the Punjabi Sikh community in the processes of negotiations that resulted in the independence of India, as well as the Partition of India in 1947.

After independence, Baldev Singh was chosen to become as the first Minister of Defence, and served in this post during the first Kashmir war between India and Pakistan. He is addressed often with the title of Sardar, which in Punjabi and Hindi means Leader or Chief.

Partition of India

Baldev Singh once again represented the Sikh community, this time on the Partition Council, which on the basis of the plan written by V.P. Menon and Lord Louis Mountbatten, would partition British India into two independent, self-governing dominions of the British Empire: India and Pakistan.

The Sikh community feared that partition would leave the Sikhs people a small minority in both Pakistan and India, and worried of the violence and deprivation of rights which might victimize them. But the violence of 1946-47 where thousands of people in the Punjab had been killed, made the Sikh leaders unwilling to co-exist with a Muslim majority and had acquiesced to the partition of the province. And given assurances by Congress leaders that India would protect its religious minorities under a secular, democratic Constitution, the Sikhs backed India and partition.

Cabinet Mission and government

Baldev Singh was chosen again to represent the Sikh viewpoint to the Cabinet Mission Plan that had arrived to discuss proposals for Indian political independence. Singh reiterated the Sikh view that India should remain a united country with special protections for the rights of religious minorities. Singh also insisted that should partition become inevitable, the division of the Punjab should happen in a way to offer territorial protection to the Sikhs from Muslim domination.

Although Baldev Singh and other Sikhs initially opposed the implementation of the Mission's May 16 scheme, in the grounds that it did not offer any protection to the Sikh community, Baldev Singh joined the new Viceroy's Executive Council, to be headed by Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as the Sikh member. Singh became the Defence Member, a post erstwhile held by the British Commander in Chief of the Indian Army. However, by early 1947, it was clear that the interim government would not work, owing to the conflict between the Congress Party and the Muslim League.

As defence minister

On August 15, 1947, India became an independent nation and Baldev Singh Singh became India's first Minister of Defence, under the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Singh was also a member of the Constituent Assembly of India.

Along with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Home Minister, Singh became responsible for leading the Indian Army's efforts t ecurity, relief and refuge to over 10 million Hindus and Sikhs who were leaving the newly created Pakistan. Terrible violence broke loose on both sides of the frontier along the Punjab and Bengal, and to date it is estimated that over 1 million people were killed, with millions more suffering from usual acts of cruelty and great physical and personal trauma from the migration.

The Army was caught unprepared, and itself was torn apart by the conflict. Thousands of Muslim officers were leaving for Pakistan, and those still doing their duty for India were worried of their own safety. The Hindu and Sikh soldiers were committing acts of violence against Muslims leaving India as revenge for the killings of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. Riots had broken out in Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay. Patel and Singh led from the front, and despite a heavy toll, the Army finally re-asserted peace and rule of law all over India and the borders of Punjab and Bengal, and organized a massive relief and aid operation for the millions of people arriving in India.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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