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Dr Kharak Singh – An Achiever

Dr Gurcharan Singh*

It was shocking news to hear of the passing away of Dr Kharak Singh Mann so suddenly. I find it difficult to find appropriate words which can aptly describe his personality, qualities of head and heart, and his contributions to Punjab in general and exposition of Sikh philosophy in particular.

I first met Dr Mann in 1946 but came to know him more closely since early 1960s when we were neighbors and worked as colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Punjab, at Chandigarh. Dr Mann was trained as an agriculture economist and had a reputation as an excellent teacher at Punjab Agriculture College, Ludhiana, before he moved over to developmental activities in the Punjab Agriculture Department. Towards the early 1960s when India was facing a serious crisis of food shortage, he worked in the first pilot project at Ludhiana which proved that if inputs and credit were available on time, and if agriculture technology was effectively demonstrated to the farmers, the productivity in agriculture could be raised manifold. Later, he worked in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Organization where he studied and proposed a blueprint of agricultural development of Ghana, West Africa.

Dr Mann had a great sense of consciousness of his identity as a Sikh and as a Punjabi. He had a clear vision of the problems that the state of Punjab faced. We had lengthy discussions about how to empower the rural youth – with knowledge to be able to compete and get their fair share in the rapid economic growth witnessed in the country. He was concerned about the problems of apostasy in Sikhs and feeble efforts made to explain the Sikh philosophy, the message of unity of God, equality of mankind, and daily prayer for the welfare of all (sarbat da bhala). The Institute of Sikh Studies, of which Dr Mann was a founder member, took up all these issues. A journal of Sikh studies, of which he was the editor, was started. It is a journal of repute and publishes articles and – views of eminent scholars on Sikh religion, economics, and education. He himself was a giant amongst erudite Sikh scholars. He wrote, edited, and published a large number of books concerned largely with the exposition of Sikh history, and philosophy as given in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr Mann initiated the creation of Guru Nanak Education Fund solely with the objective of helping deserving rural students to enhance their capabilities to compete for high-end positions as scientists, doctors, engineers, economists, and administrators and to ultimately help develop the State.

His achievements are far too-numerous to be mentioned here. His passing away is a great loss to Punjab and leaves a great void which will be difficult to fill.

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