BALDEV SINGH: The destiny always plays a dominant role in shaping the future of an individual. But the virtues and other values of life steer their own course. No body, not even S. Baldev Singh, could visualize that once a Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly will later assume the pivotal role at the Sikh Gurdwara, Richmond Hill, New York, in his capacity as the Secretary of the Sikh Cultural Society, New York.
With fluency in presentation, command over the language, selection of appropriate words and above all a cool manner, he has proved to be a very effective and persuasive speaker who handles the stage very dexterously.
Baldev Singh once staked his whole political career to fight for a rightful place for his mother tongue i.e. Punjabi language, even on its own soil, the position which should have been granted immediately after declaration of Independence in 1947. But it was an irony of the fate that the people of Punjab had to wage long and perpetual struggle to achieve this objective, which they finally obtained in 1967. The former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Baldev Singh rightly took pride in narrating the events of the passage of two historic resolutions i.e. introduction of Punjabi as the official language at the secretariat level and state trading in Punjab.
Surprisingly, the Akali party which made these issues as the main planks in its election manifesto opposed these resolutions just to appease their coalition partners, Jan Sangh and Communist parties and to maintain the political power in the state. The then Chief Minister Justice Gurnam Singh conveniently agreed to betray his mother tongue just to keep these allies by his side. At one time, Baldev Singh had to fight a lonely battle to press for the implementation of the election promises when he proposed an amendment to the Governor’s address. He preferred to ignore the party whip, than to betray his mother tongue.
Baldev Singh’s short tenure of Deputy Speakership is still remembered for the attainment of a rightful status for our mother tongue and the passage of a historic bill of state trading which saved the farmers from the century’s old strong clutches of the middlemen (Arhtias) and Banias in the State.
Baldev Singh had to pay a very heavy price for a revolt against the established feudal leadership of the Akali party. He had to sacrifice a brilliant and glamorous political career. But he refused to desert his first love i.e. his mother tongue and to ignore the commitment, given to his great grandfathers to save the farmers from the cruel hands of Banias and Arhtias.
This frustration made Baldev Singh to migrate to U.S.A. in Oct. 1970, with empty pocket and without any prospect of help. But here too, his commitment to the cause and sincerity of purpose, provided him a rich harvest of fortune. Here too the “Dame Fortune” was waiting for him with open hands. Within a short span of time, Baldev Singh made his debut in business and a respectable name in Sikh politics.
Baldev Singh was born to Mr. and Mrs. Bakhtawar Singh at V. Majatri, Dist. Ropar. He completed his schooling at Khalsa High School Kharar and got a B.A. degree from Punjab University, Chandigarh, in 1963, with honor’s in Punjabi language. Prior to this, Baldev Singh had already polished his basic instinct of being an artist. He got a two year diploma in drawing and painting in 1959.
Baldev Singh started his service career as a teacher at Khalsa Higher Secondary School, Anandpur Sahib, in 1960. Later he entered into the Government service to teach at Government Higher Secondary Sector 23, Chandigarh and served up to 1966. He also availed of his free evening time to join law classes at P.U. Chandigarh and added LLB to his credentials in 1965,
Baldev Singh made a complete turn in life by joining law Profession and jumping into politics in 1966. His very first political activity of organizing reception at Kharar to the Akali marchers, led him to jail.
Baldev Singh got a major break in politics in 1967. When he got the Akali ticket to contest for an Assembly seat from Kharar against a powerful Congress nominee, S. Niranjan Singh Talib, the then P.W.O. Minister. The luck and the people of Kharar enabled him to preside over the Punjab Assembly as Deputy Speaker for the passage of two historic bills as mentioned above through a stormy and rough process. His name went into history when Punjabi language got its rightful place through his handling and by using all the Constitutional terminology to pass this bill with a voice vote.
But this was not without any skirmish. Baldev Singh’s defiance of the total established Akali leadership including Barnala and Talwandi, made him to think thousand times to continue to work with a party that voices feelings for Punjabi to obtain votes and votes against it when it is actually introduced in the Legislative Assembly. This double standard politics of Akali party made him migrate to U.S.A. in Oct. 1970,
Here too, his hunger for more knowledge got him Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance Management. He rose as Sectional Manager in Metropolitan C.I.C, received his fellowship of HIAA and office Management Institute of America. But finally, he settled in Gasoline business in 1983. Here too his story records numerous successes to his credit.
Baldev Singh, as stated above was basically a product of Akali politics, but June, 1984, Ghallu Ghara totally shook him emotionally and made him the spokesman for the movement of complete independence for the Sikhs. As the Secretary of the Sikh Cultural Society, and legal back ground, he steered the legal battles of Dr. Birk, Ranjit Singh Gill, Sukhminder Singh Sandhu and others to a decisive point.
His wife Kuldeep Kaur, who opened her eyes under the shadow of Takht Kesh Garh Sahib, Anandpur, where her parents lived, was in the education field before switching to the management of their business. They were married in 1963 and now they are the proud Parents of a son Gurpreet “Gogi” now specializing in Computer System Engineering (B.Sc. degree) at
Polytechnic Institute in New York.