Lisa Cosmetics

Obituary: Bureaucrat with a literary pen

Centre Court Developments

I was confused when one of former Deputy Commissioners of Chandigarh Inderjit Singh Sandhu sent me an old clip of my then popular column “Inside Babudom”.I wondered what prompted him to remind me of my piece on civil servants taking to writing. This specific clip was about a book written on Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur by one of retired civil servants Manohar Singh Chandla.

Information that followed cleared my confusion but made me sad. Manohar Singh Chandla is no more was the message that may have devastated many who had been helped earlier in their Civil Services career by him. His death came as a personal loss to me as I used to call and consult him on Punjab affairs in general and bureaucracy in particular.

He was a suave, soft spoken perfect gentleman always sure of his facts. Though a career bureaucrat, he had hidden inside him a writer, a historian and a great story teller.

For many in the Punjab Civil Service, Mr Manohar Singh Chandla, had been a colleague, teacher, friend, philosopher and guide. But many may not be aware that Mr Chandla of late had “inherited” the mantle of authorship from Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, his one-time trainee in the PCS (Executive).

Mr Chandla, who retired from the Indian Administrative Service in 1986 as a 1980-batch IAS officer, settled in Chandigarh. One of his books, “Banda Bahadur – Betrayal by his Lieutenants”, was not only a biographical compilation of that great warrior but also a step towards naming him as the first freedom fighter who launched a crusade against the invaders.

This, incidentally, was his third book. His first two books were on the life and religion of the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan. His association with the Bishnoi community probably started from his early days as he was born and brought up in undivided Ferozepur district.

His earlier books – “Jambhoji, Messiah of the Thar Desert” and “The Bishnois, Wildlife Protection an Article of Faith” – were the result of his basic training as a social researcher and keen observer of history.

Similar stories
1 of 1,856

He is also the co-author of “Towards the Starlit Dome”. Besides, he has been contributing articles on current issues to various newspapers and magazines in the region.

Besides books and articles in newspapers, he used to do in-depth writing about relevant current issues. For example, he had done a thorough study about the institution of LokPal. He continued to write till his end came on May 17.

Chandla came into the limelight in his earlier years in the Punjab Civil Service when in undivided Punjab, in his capacity as Civil Magistrate , he was witness to the great escape of Akalis from the Bathinda jail. The escape attempt was followed by the police opening fire on the Akalis. At that time Mr Partap Singh Kairon was the Chief Minister and Mr Sant Parkash Singh the Inspector-General of Police.

Mr Swaran Singh Boparai also conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family. “Chandla sahib was an exceptional man who combined efficiency, humane qualities, sense of humour, honesty with outstanding intellectual qualities. His book on Banda Bahadur set out a line of thought absolving his image of hangovers. I notice a different perception of Banda Bahadur among Sikhs and general people. It is a big loss to us all and to Punjab,” Mr Boparai said.

Mr MS Chahal, too, in a condolence message said that “Chandla sahib’s departure is a big loss. His mastery over the intricacies of the river waters issue was unmatched. His well-researched book on Baba Banda Singh Bahadur will remain as a living monument to his scholarship. The Lord bestows eternal peace on the departed soul.

Mr GS Pandher, a former DGP, also condoled his death. “I pray to the god to give peace to the departed soul and strength to the family to bear with the irreparable loss. Shri MS Chandla was a great research scholar and his books reveal lot of new facts about the Sikh history, particularly his latest book (LOKPAL). Regarding death of general Hari Singh Nalwa and the infighting in the family of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Chandla held various key positions in the Punjab civil administration, including his stint in training new entrants to the Provincial Civil Service.

Pabhjot Singh

You might also like More from author

Comments are closed.