Dr Kharak Singh – As I know Him
Dr Sardara Singh Johl*
I came in contact with Prof Mann in 1949 when I was under
graduate student in the Government College of Agriculture
at Ludhiana. I found him intelligent, knowledgeable, calm
and helpful teacher. I was deeply impressed by his personality.
Students could meet him and discuss the subject and their
problems anytime and anywhere he was available. He would
never get upset by repeated questions or by even irrelevent
questions. Students could easily absorb the details of
the subject, because he was simple and straight in his
expression. After my leaving the college, I lost contact
with him for quite a long time.
We met again when he was Deputy Director Agriculture in
Punjab Government and I was Head of the Department of
Economics and Sociology at the Punjab Agricultural University.
He, by that time had completed the course-work for his
Ph D at the Ohio State University, Columbus (USA) and
was looking for an approved advisor for his research dissertation.
I had by that time returned from the same University after
serving there as Visiting Professor and was entitled to
guide the students of that university as Adjunct Professor.
I, guided his research work and he completed his Ph D.
We unofficially held convocation of the Ohio State University
in our department of economics and sociology, with Dr
Wood, Team Leader of the USAID, as Chief guest and conferred
the degree on him with all the grace, it deserved. Since
then, in light mood, I used to call him ape gur chela.
Yet, I always felt proud to be his student. It is more
honourable to be a student of such a chiseled personality.
Let me quote one episode which would profusely indicate
his values, love for his students, selflessness, and sacrificing
his own interest for others:
I was appointed as one of the subject matter experts by
FAO of the United Nations in Iran. I was in Rome for briefing
and was to join in Iran within about a week. Meanwhile,
Iran government happened to dig up an earlier nomination
of Dr Mann made by the FAO and approved his name as a
prefered expert, because he had worked in African countries
as expert for several years. Dr Mann at that time was
a bit sick and was hospitalized in Rome. He had finished
his earlier assignment and was without any job at that
time. When he came to know of the situation, he declined
this job in Iran. I went to see him in the hospital and
requested him not to withdraw himself. I told him that
he had resigned from the job in India and was without
job, whereas I had come on leave from the University and
could go back easily. If I were not adjusted anywhere
else, I would be adequately compensated. But, he firmly
told me, “Look, if there is a choice between Kharak
Singh and Sardara Singh, Kharak Singh is not there. You
go and join, and please do not brook this subject again.”
He returned to India and remained without job for full
one year. How many people can do that!! After that he
joined me in Iran in the next phase of the project, and
we worked together for full three years. In this world,
where selfishness prevades through the blood and veins
of the society and self-interest comes in the fore, how
many people can prove to be so selfless and willingly
surender their interests in favour of their dear ones?
After that we remained in contact all the time and I was
admiring his absolute dedication to the society, particularly
to the Sikh Samaj. He tried to rope in the persons he
thought fit to do different professional jobs for the
betterment of the society. After retirement, he became
rather more active and served as the backbone and driving
force for whatever activities we took up in the International
Sikh Confederation. Without him, we are poor by tons and
feel a great void has occurred in the framework of our
activities. It will take time for us to reconcile to the
I bow to the great soul with reverence. The values of
my admired teacher have left an indelible mark on my life.