Surjit Singh Majithia
Politician, Parliamentarian and Diplomat (1912-1995)
With acquiline features and large luminous eyes was a very handsome-looking man. He cut an extraordinarily impressive figure on the field of sport. Alert and agile, he was a cricketer of considerable repute. Besides, he filled several leadership roles in the social and political spheres of life. He was a ranking politician, parliamentarian and diplomat.
He was educated at the Khalsa College at Amritsar, an institution which his forbears had reared with singular love and dedication. His father, Sardar Sundar Singh Majithia, who had been a member of the Imperial Council and subsequently a cabinet minister in the Punjab government was a leading figure in the Sikh awakening at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was the son of Raja Surat Singh who had suffered detention at the hands of the British upon the occupation of the Punjab by them.
Sir Sundar Singh, by his thrift and acumen had built up a big industrial estate. Into this opulent family, was Surjit Singh born on 8 August 1912. Debonair and athletically inclined, he went through his college courses comfortably, playing cricket and tennis.
Surjit Singh was married into the old family of the Wazirs of the princely state of Nabha. His father-in-law, General Shivdev Singh, was a wealthy landlord, wealthiest in the Punjab in crisp money as the legend then ran. His father was keen that his children grow up as true Sikhs, faithful to their religious tenets and customs. Surjit Singh did not disappoint him. He was not enthusiastic about the tiger hunt parties hosted by his eldest brother Kirpal Singh Majithia, who was a leading shikari of his day. Nor was he, much inclined to cultivate the company of his first cousin, the fabulous Amrita Shergil (1913-1941), the painter, and her husband Dr. Victor Egan, who was a medical doctor in her father’s factory.
Fresh from his college, Surjit. Singh Majithia entered the Indian Air Force and reached the rank of Squadron Leader. Taking out his discharge from the Air Force, he became a member of the Central Legislative Assembly in 1945. From 1947 to 1949 he was India’s ambassador to the neighbouring country of Nepal. He participated in elections to the first Lok Sabha, i.e. Indian Parliament, which took place in 1952 and which he won comfortably. He won his parliamentary seat again in 1957 as well as in 1962. From 1952 to 1962 he served as India’s deputy defence minister. He was President of the Wrestling Federation of India from 1964 to 1976 and President, Cricket Control Board of India from 1956 to 1958. He became the first President of the Yachting Association of India when it was established in 1960. In 1944 he became President of Khalsa College, Amritsar. He continued in the office for upwards of three decades.
Surjit Singh Majithia died in Delhi on 27 September 1995.