Dr. Sarup Singh (डॉ सरूप सिंह) (1917-2003) was born on January 9, 1917 at Village Sanghi in district Rohtak of Haryana. After he passed his tenth class examination from Jat School, Rohtak, he moved to Delhi for Higher education, where passed the graduation and M A Examination (1940) with high credits from Ramjas College. Did his Ph.D. from University of London (1953). He was V C Delhi University. He was appointed Member of the Union Public Service Commission. He was a member of Rajya Sabha (10-4-1978 to 9-4-1984). He remained Governors of Kerala and Gujarat. He has written number of literary books to his credit.
Family back ground
[The following article and the brief life sketch at the end were first writen by Dr.S.S.Rana and published in a felicitation volume, namely, Dr. SARUP sINGH: A LIVING LEGEND, presented to Dr.Sarup Singh in 1997. The Biography authored by Dr. Bhim Singh Dahiya verbatim incorporates a good amount of text from the above Volume.He is welcome]
His Father Shri Gordhan Singh, when five years old lost his father Shri Mohan Singh. The grand mother of Dr. Sarup Singh did not remarry and devoted herself to the bringing up of her son. She sent him to the village school. One day the school teacher beat him. On learning this she went to the school, gave a slap on the teacher's face and brought her home never to send him to school again. She got him married when he was nine yeas old. The bride belonged to village Kalahawad. She died before Muklawa ceremony could take place. Shri Gordhan Singh was thirteen years old then. After the passage of one year he remarried. Two years later the second wife also died. After two years he married again. The third wife gave birth to Dr. Sarup Singh. She also died in 1918 when Dr. Sarup Singh was hardly a year old. His father Shri Gordhan Singh was young. The grand mother was keen to get her son married again . Negotiation for the fourth -time marriage were made. Before the engagement ceremony was performed Shri Gordhan Singh happened to go to the outskirts of the village for some work. There he met a sadhu who had come to know about the negotiations for marriage going on in Shri Gordhan Singh's house. The Sadhu said, "Kill your infant son before you go ahead with this new marriage. If you don't do it now the young bride would do it soon after she comes to your house'. This had an electrifying effect on Shri Gordhan Singh. He abandoned the idea of marrying again. He had discovered the mission of his life- to devote his life to serve his mother and bring up his son.
The grandmother of Dr. Sarup Singh brought him up like a loving mother. She sent him to the village school. As early marriage was the normal practice in those days, she got him married when he was studying in the 5th class. As a student he was bright in all subjects except Mathematics. He had little liking for the subject. But the Mathematics teacher would not spare him for his unsatisfactory performance. The stories of the Mathematics teacher beating her grandson reached the grandmother. She could not bear the situation and decided to withdraw her ward from the school. But the father Shri Gordhan Singh intervened as he did not want to deprive his son of the benefit of education which had been denied to him inadvertently. And thus continued Dr. Sarup Singh's tryst with education. His father devotedly nursed his ailing mother. Hers was a prolonged illness. She died leaving behind her son and two grandchildren. Dr.Sarup Singh was then a student of eighth class. He passed his tenth class examination from Jat School, Rohtak. He was placed in the first division with high marks.
Dr. Sarup Singh moved to Delhi for Higher education, This opened new horizons for him. He joined Ramjas College. A fee-waiver was granted to him. The hostel expenses were about ten rupees per month. Things were moving quite smoothly. Dr. Sarup Singh felt very comfortable with the subject of his choice that is, English. His teacher. Shri B.B.Gupta had already identified him as a bright student. The brightness was perhaps waiting to shine and application for some polish was needed. An opportunity was providentially provided by Dr. Sarup Singh himself. An incident occurred. The scene was in the passage outside the classroom. Some students were quarreling amongst themselves. Dr.Sarup Singh was one of them and was using four -letter words for cursing his adversary. The teacher Shri B.B. Gupta happened to pass that way. He noted Dr. Sarup Singh who was in the dress of a village lad with a turban on his head. He also recalled that the student then engaged in the game of abuses had scored very high marks in the recently held terminal examination. Shri Gupta called this bright student to his residence. There was a counseling session of an hour's duration. Obviously the topics included were dress, hair-style, language and interpersonal relations with fellow students. Above all, the need for making a career was appropriately emphasized. The teacher's concern and words of advice had a tremendous impact on Dr.Sarup Singh's mind. He set his sights high and settled down to work hard for a rewarding future. He passed the Intermediate Examination with high credits. He was to join the graduation course. Some one advised him to join St.Stephen's College. There was another suggestion that he should go to Lahore for his graduation. He was being offered scholarship at both the places. But Dr.Sarup Singh went by the advice of his mentor. Shri B.B. Gupta and joined the graduate course at Ramjas College. Finance was problem though not insurmountably. Chaudhary Chajju Ram, a near cousin was working in Delhi Judicial service. He extended help by giving money on loan to Dr. Sarup Singh whatever money he gave was recorded in a Bahi and the signatures of Dr.Sarup Singh were taken thereon. Repayments also continued to be made to the extent possible Studies progressed smoothly and Dr. Sarup Singh stood second in the B.A,(Hons) English examination. He had already married and had a daughter. The responsibility of running the house was to be taken up. But he decided to continue his studies and joined MA Course in English. Finances were still a problem. Shri Chhajju Ram Continued to give him the needed loan after obtaining his signatures on the Bahi. The situation appeared to be embarrassing to Dr.Sarup Singh as he grew in years. But he did not allow his studies to suffer on any count. He sat for the M.A, (Final) examination in 1940. When he was to take the examination in the last paper his wife died. It was a great setback. After the examinations were over Dr. Sarup Singh was to leave the College. He went back to his village and waited for the fruit of his hard work. When the results were declared, he found himself at the top of the successful candidates in the first division. This gave Dr. Sarup Singh a sense of identity as well as recognition.
Shri Chhajju Ram on his part continued to be helpful to Dr. Sarup Singh and used his good offices in getting him a job of tutor in Hindu college on a consolidated salary of one hundred ruppees per month. Even before the completion of this assignment, he was appointed Lecturer in the same college. Now he needed some accommmodation to live in Delhi. He started living with Shri Chhajju Ram. The first thing that he did now was to clear the loan he had taken from him. Rupees eleven hundred was calculated as the outstanding amount. The same was paid back. Though a widower, he was a bright young man, most eligible for marriage. Shri Chhajju Ram persuaded him to marry Shiela ji who happened to be a near cousin of Shri Chhajju Ram's wife. After marriage, Dr Sarup Singh shifted to a rented house in Subzi Mandi area. He lived there with his family till 1944 when he moved to Rohtak to take up the assignment of Vice Principal of Jat college. But he could not adjust himself to the environment there. Dr Sarup Singh had nationalist and socialist leanings whereas the Management of Jat College had a Unionist milieu. Criticism of Sir Chhotu Ram by Dr.Sarup Singh was not liked by the management. Dr Sarup Singh felt disillusioned. He was imbued with the spirit of doing something towards improving the educational lot of the rural people. He returned to his parent institute, Hindu College, Delhi in January 1945.
During the period Dr. Sarup Singh stayed at Rohtak, Shri Chhajju Ram's younger brother had occupied his rented house in Subzi Mandi. Dr Sarup Singh faced resistance in getting, the house back for his own exclusive use. Some adjustment was made and everybody was accommodated. Soon things moved for the better. Dr. Sarup Singh was appointed as warden of the college hostel. This solved the problem of housing for him as also for his cousin who shifted to the Warden's house in Hindu College. The house was quite big but not big enough to accommodate his cousin and many other relatives visiting Delhi quite frequently. After all, visiting Delhi was in those days considered equivalent to fulfilling a mission of one's life time (the saying goes:"jisne dekhi na Dilli voh na kutta na billi"- one who has not seen Delhi is not worthy of being even a dog or or cat). As the reputation of Dr.Sarup Singh spread far and wide in the rural areas,his home attracted more and more visitors, seeking help of one kind or the other. Years rolled on. He also took keen interest in political activities and was a member of the Socialist Party. He so impressed Shri Jaya Prakash Narayan that the latter ensured his election as the president of the Delhi unit of the Socialist Party of India in 1951. However, he resigned from that position after a couple of months as he did not receive the required co-operation from those who mattered in the Party affairs at the time.
Dr. Sarup Singh continued to perform the role of a friend, philosopher and guide for many young people particularly those belonging to the rural areas. He became a role model. He was to his young students what Shri B.B.Gupta had been to him-friend, philosopher and guide. The summer of 1950 was to provide an opportunity for them to be together on a holiday in Simla Hills. The two with their families were joined by Mangat Ram, Dr. Sarup Singh's former classmate and Lecturer in English in Ramjas College. The concern of Shri Gupta was how his brilliant student could rise to further academic heights. Study for a Ph.D. degree in some University in England was thought to be the best way to proceed. So papers were submitted for admission to the University of London and admission was granted to him to the Ph.D. course. Funds were arranged by pooling and creating resources. A sum of rupees four thousand was taken as advance from the Provident Fund account. Another sum of rupees four thousand was taken as loan from the Hindu College. Four thousand rupees were received as royalty of a book which Dr. Sarup Singh had prepared for the Matriculation course of the Board of Examinations of Delhi. He himself earned one thousand rupees by doing some work in the U.K. A loan of one thousand rupees was taken from the Indian High Commision in the U.K. These arrangements assured him of his financial requirements but the delay in the arrival of remittance from home on some occasions put him to test of sorts. It took two years' hard work to complete the thesis. The last date for submission of the thesis was June 8,1953. There was some hurdle in the printing and binding as all the establishments appeared to be busy or preoccupied in connection with the preparations for the Coronation Ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II. The thesis was accepted. Viva-Vose examination was held on July 13,1953. Having earned his Ph.D. Dr.Sarup Singh sailed back to India via France, Italy and Switzerland. He had money enough just for meeting the expenses of his journey upto Bombay. A sum of rupees one hundred and fifty was arranged through Liyod's Bank to meet the expenses on his travel from Bombay to Delhi. He rejoined Hindu College on August 18,1953. His Ph.D degree brought him two additional increments apart from the academic recognition that he received in the University. Dr. Sarup Singh was one of the few lecturers in Delhi University, in those days, who had a Ph.D. degree in English from a University in England.
Joined as Professor
The following year he applied for the post of Professor in Government College, Ludhiana. The interview was held at Simla. Dr. Sarup singh was selected for the post and received the offer to join duty. Principal Hardwari Lal did not want Kirori Mal College to be deprived of the services of Dr. Sarup Singh. He used the good office of Shri Khem Lal Rathi a common friend to persuade Dr. Sarup Singh to continue to serve Kirori Mal College and also made him the Vice-Principal of College.
In the year 1956 Shri Hardwari Lal was appointed member of the Punjab Public Service Commission. Dr. Sarup Singh took over as Acting Principal of the College. Shri Hardwari Lal resigned in 1957 as he could not tbegranted more than a year's leave from the post of Principal. The post was advertised. Dr. R. R. Sethi of Punjab University Camp College, New Delhi was a close contender for the post. At the time the Vice-Chancellor of the University was Professor V. K. R. V. Rao. He had a great linking for Dr. Sarup Singh for his many qualities an as such desired that the man who had already proved his competence as an administrator should be elevated to the position of Principal. Accordingly, Dr. Sarup Singh was appointed Principal of Kirori Mal college in 1957 With this started a new era in the life of the College. Dr. Sarup Singh knew that the essence of an institution lies iin the quality of its faculty and its students. Therefore, he took measures to attract the best of teachers from different parts of the country to join his College. Such teachers attracted better students. The College was now set on the smooth road of progress. The ever present academic instinct in Dr. Sarup Singh took him to London to do research at the University College under a British Council fellowship in 1960. But his stay at London was cut short as he had to return to India to attend to his ailing wife Shrimati Shiela. The same year Kurukshetra University invited him to take up the post of Professor of English. Dr. Sarup Singh served in this position fc about a year. He joined back as Principal of Kirori Mal College in 1961. Shri Hardwari Lal had ceased to be Principal of the College in 1957 but he continued to occupy the Principal's house till 1962. The University tool It as a case of subletting of the college accomodation and explanation was asked from college. Hardwari Lal immediately vacated the house. After some time his term as member of Punjab Public Service Commission came to an end. There were suggestions from certain quarters that Dr. Sarup Singh might step down from the post of Principal to make room for Shri Hardwari Lal. That was not required. The elections to to State Assemblies were held the same year. Shri Hardwari Lal contested and won the election as a Congress candidate. Dr. Sarup Singh was among the prominent persons who campaigned in his favour. Shri Hardwari Lal moved to Chandigarh. Dr. Sarup Singh shifted to the Principal's residence. By this time he was in full control things in Kirori Mal College. He gave dignity and identity to the College. There was no more derisive laughter at the rehearsals in the Convocation Pandal when the students of the College were presented for conferring degrees. The college made rapid progress in academic field. The elite game of Cricket saw itself on top. It also held the field in several other games and sports. Cultural activities, especially dramatics were hallmark of t college.
The role of Dr. Sarup Singh had already expanded beyond Kirori Mal College in the University. He had demonstrated his organising skill when he took and led a large contingent of the University of Deihi in the Republic Day Parade of 1963, Which received a new impetus in the wake of the Chinese invasion of India. Shri Chintamani Dwarkanath Desmukh was the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University at that time. He developed great liking for Dr. Sarup Singh. When in 1964 a crisis developed in W.A.F.M Shivaji College Dr. Sarup Singh was deputed as Officer on Special Duty to perfom the functions of principal of that College in addition to being the principal of Kirori Mal College. Such an arrangement was perhaps made for the first time in any College Delhi University. His association with the college for a couple of months brought stability and solidity and the College community was instilled with confidence. Supply of potable water was arranged and Dr. Sarup Singh dealt efficiently with the problem arising due to the death of a student by drowning while he was fiddling with Tonga carriage which skidded into a pond.
Dr. Sarup Singh continued to be more and more helpful in the matters of governance of the University, But did not allow his academic pursuits to slacken in any way. He was one of the most sought-after teacher in the post -graduate teaching programme of the Department of English. The publication of his Ph.D. thesis (The Theory of Drama in the Restoration Period) attracted wide attention in the scholarly world. The Time's Literary Supplement Published a critical review acclaiming the high standard of scholarship demonstrated by the author. The year 1965 marked a new phase in the career of Dr.Sarup Singh. He was appointed Professor of English the University of Delhi. He also became the Head of the Department the same year. It was for the first time that a student of Delhi University rose to the position of Professor in any of its Departments. But there arose a problem of housing. He had to vacate the Principal's house in Kirori Mal College and he did not have a house his own in Delhi. The problem was solved by the University. He was appointed Master of Jubilee Hall. In that capacity he was entitled to official accommodation meant for the Master of Jubilee Hall. As Head of Department of English.Dr. Sarup Singh made several innovations in the curriculum for post-graduate courses. Courses were developed including standard translations of classics of Indian literature. Under his leadership the Department expanded in many ways.
V C Delhi University
Dr. Sarup Singh always took keen interest in the welfare activities for teachers. He is in fact, one of the founder-members of 'Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA). He was Vice-President of the organisation for some years. Late sixties were the years of great turmoil in educational institutions all over the country. Delhi University also witnessed its share of troubles. It was at this juncture that Dr. Sarup Singh was appointed Proctor of the University. He held this position till 1969 and contributed, a lot towards improving the academic environment of the University. But in spite of the goodwill of vast sections of the University, the gentle -and soft-spoken Vice-Chancellor, Dr. B.N.Ganguly, failing to come to terms with the prevailing circumstances resigned. Professor Majumdar, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor acted as Vice-Chancellor for sometime. Thereafter Professor K.N.Raj became Vice-Chancellor. Dr. Sarup Singh was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor. It was 1969. Harsh statements were issued against Professor Raj by Bharatiya Jan Sangh leader, Shri Kanwar Lal Gupta and some others for his political leanings. Dr. Sarup Singh vehemently condemned the issuing of such statements. It is an irony that some elements having proximity to Professor Raj dubbed Dr. Sarup Singh as a Jan Sangh man. This hurt Dr.Sarup Singh as a Jan Sangh man. This hurt Dr. Sarup Singh quite a great deal and he offered to resign. Professor Raj, however, did not agree. The tenure of Professor Raj as Vice-Chancellor did not last long. He embroiled himself into controversies by initiating several radical reforms at a time when even the normal running of the University was a difficult job. There were cases of serious breach of discipline on the part of a group of students professing affiliation to the Congress Party. Some of these students were expelled from the University. Intervention at the level of the Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi took place. The expelled students were taken back. Subsequently Professor Raj resigned as Vice-Chancellor. Dr. Sarup Singh met Shri V.V. Giri, the President of India, who was Visitor of the University and requested him not to accept the resignation of Professor Raj. But Professor Raj was determined to quit. The resignation was eventually accepted. On acceptance of the resignation of Professor Raj, Dr. Sarup Singh became Acting Vice-Chancellor. Soon after taking charge he was to handle a communally sensitive issue. A Muslim teacher Mr. Javed Alam of G.D. Salwan, College had married a Hindu girl. On instigation from some communal elements, the students of the College started an agitation demanding the resignation of the teacher. The Governing Body of the College initiated steps to terminate the services of the teacher. This gave rise to a counter-agitation by the DUTA demanding that no action be taken against the teacher.
Dr.Sarup Singh met Justice H.R.Hardy, Chairman of the Governing Body and Shri G.D. Salwan, Chairman of the Trust. He also spoke to the students of the College and impressed upon them not to turn a personal matter into a public controversy and that too on communal basis. He did not leave any doubt in anyone's mind about the stern measure that he would take in case the college victimized the teacher for his act in marrying a Hindu girl. The national press fully supported the stance taken by Dr. Sarup Singh. Good sense prevailed and the matter was amicably resolved. The Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was impressed with the way the issue was got settled by Dr. Sarup Singh.
This was about the time when the search for the new Vice-Chancellor of the University was on. The search Committee included Dr. Sarup Singh's name in the panel of three out of which the Vice-Chancellor was to be appointed. The other two names were those of Professor F.C. Aulack and Professor Tripathi. It did not take much time for Mrs. lndira Gandhi to decide on the name. Dr. Sarup Singh was her choice. She brushed aside some Insinuations made against him in certain quarters and recommended the name, to the Visitor. Accordingly, Dr. Sarup Singh was appointed Vice-Chancellor on January 7, 1971 and he assumed charge on January 8,1971, Coincidentally on the eve of his 55th birthday. The appointment was widely hailed in the University community. It was not an ordinary event. It was for the first time that the University's own former student had become its Vice-Chancellor. Such an event has now occurred the second time after about a quarter of a century in the appointment of Professor Vrajendra Raj Mehta as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi on March 18,1995. Immediately after assuming charge Dr. Sarup Singh approached the Executive Council for creating the post of Dean of Colleges, equivalent to Pro-Vice-Chancellor. The Executive Council agreed and Shri Shanti Narayan, Principal of Hans Raj College was appointed Dean of Colleges. Professor Vidya Prakash Dutt was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
The tenure of Dr. Sarup Singh as a Vice Chancellor was eventful. Several Building Project were undertaken and completed. The Institute of Post Graduate (Evening ) Studies was merged with the respective Departments. Second Evening Law Centre was started in the building of Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College at- Dhaula Kuan . School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education was provisionally permitted to start a Co-educational teaching wing in the School subject to the approval of the University Grants Commission. Later it was converted into what is now Satyawati Co-educational College.
Non-Collegiate Women's Education Board was reorganised so that it could function more effectively, by opening three to four teaching centres In different localities of Delhi. The mode of appointment of Head of Department was changed. As part of the democratization process the provision of Staff Council was made in the Ordinance governing the Colleges. He handled firmly but very deftly an indefinite strike called by Delhi University Students Union under the leadership of Sri Ram Khanna, its President.
When the strike failed Shri Sri Ram Khanna sat on hunger strike. The Vice-Chancellor did not agree to concede his demands. Shri Khanna assessed his stand in a realistic way, arrived at an agreement and called off the hunger strike. The message was loud and clear to all. Dr.Sarup Singh could not be pressurized into taking decisions. It is worth mentioning that after this event no Students' Union has ever thought of giving a call for an indefinite strike.
The creation of the College Council was a quite a thorny issue agitating the minds of teachers of the Universit Mr V.V. John had been appointed the chairman of the council. The DUTA launched an agitation for the scrapping of the Council. Dr. Sarup Singh weighed the merits and demerits of having the College Council. The odds were against having the Council.He took no time in announcing the abolition of the Council. However, it attracted complaint from the Education Minister Professor Nurul Hasan. The Minister said that the V C did not consult him before scrapping the Council. The reply of V C was that the Minister had himself set the trend as he did not consult the V C when the decision to amend the Delhi University Act incorporating a provision for the creation of College Council was taken.
Two more instances bear out his concern for University autonomy. Professor Sukhmaya Chakravarty of Economics Department had been appointed as member of the Planning Commission and was on extra-ordinary leave. The leave expired, but his services were required for some time. The Minister for Planning spoke tot V.C. for sanction of leave to Professor Chakravarty. The reply of the V.C. was that Professor Chakravarty should himself apply for the leave which will be considered by the Executive Council of the University. The Minister felt surprised and shared his feeling with the Education Minister in the presence of some other Ministers. Education Minister told him what stuff the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University was made of and how the University of Delhi maintained its autonomy. A teacher in Daulat Ram College was an applicant for the post of Principal of the College. She approached the Vice-President of India for help in the matter. The Vice- President told how autonomous the Vice-Chancellor was and added, as if to prove it, that Dr.Sarup Singh had not paid even courtesy call to him though he was the Chancellor of the University. So he told the teacher that it would be embarrassing for him to speak to the V.C. about such a matter. The Chancellor's remarks somehow reached Sarup Singh. He soon sought an appointment and met the Vice-President. The Vice-President was gracious and appreciated Dr. Sarup Singh's way of doing things. The meeting resulted in a closer rapport between the two.
It was the first year of the tenure of Dr.Sarup Singh as Vice-Chancellor when the Bangladesh war erupted. The University extended its helping hand in raising funds for the war-effort. The Prime Minister,Mrs. lndira Gandhi addressed a large gathering of the University Community Sports ground. A purse of rupees one lakh eleven thousand one hundred and eleven was presented to her on behalf of the University. Another major decision the creation of South Campus in its present form. It was the outcome of a discussion between the Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and a delegation of the University led by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Sarup Singh. The members of the delegation emphasised the need for opening a new University in Delhi to share the load of increasing numbers. The Prime Minister was in favour of starting a separate Campus of the University would cost about one-fifth of the amount required for setting up a new University. Accordingly, steps were taken and the South Campus was established. The post of director, South Campus was created and Dr. Amrik was appointed Director. Several Colleges of South Campus were given permission to start MA classes operative teaching classes were organised In several subjects at the south Campus. Since the University did not have its own building for running the c1asses and housing its administrative offices, buildings were hired for this purpose in South Extention Part-I and Part-II. The permanent building of the Campus was to come up later. Directors of Physical Education were recognised as teachers of the University. The Librarians, thoug not recognised as teachers, were given pay parity and other benefits at par with teachers.
Another important development was the opening of the University College of Medical Sciences. To begin with the College was housed in the premises of the Chemistry Department. Soon it was shifted to the campus of safdarjang Hospital from where it moved to its present spacious campus in East Delhi. While function at safdarjang Hospital premises the College faced some problems of administrative jurisdiction vis·a·vis JNU evinced interest in taking over the College and shifted it to its campus. A meeting was called in the Ministry of Health where the JNU was represented by Professor Moonis Raza. In the meeting Dr.Sarup singh posed the question that If the JNU was Interested in sharing the rresponsibility of undergraduate education in the Medical Faculty, where was the hitch in extending it to the rest of the faculties? The imlecations were enormous for the JNU. The matter ended there. (It is a different matter that Professor Moonis Raza looked after the affairs of the University College of Medical Science When he was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi from 1985 to 1990.)
Overall, things stablished in the University. On the initiative of Dr.Sarup Singh, a Teacher's Welfare Fund was established. The Delhi University and Colleges Karamchari Union (DUCKU) was recognised by the Executive Council. It was the fourth year of Dr.Sahib's tenure. The political climate of the country was hotting up. The Total Revolution movement of Shri Jaya Prakash Narayan was gathering momentum. Wide sections of University students all over the country were involved in the movement. A long standing commitment on the part of Dr. Sarup Singh to take up a teaching assignment in America was to be met. So he wanted to give up the position of Vice-Chancellor to meet his academic commitment. Accordingly, he expressed his desire to relinquish the office of Vice-Chancellor, to the Prime Minister sometime in March, 1974. The Prime Minister persuaded him not to resign. So he continued in his position for another couple of months. But the assignments could not be kept pending for long. Therefore,he submitted his resignation in July,1974. It was accepted and the Pro-Chancellor, Professor VP Dutt became the Acting Vice-Chancellor.
Went to America
Dr. Sarup Singh proceeded to America to take up the assignment as Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois. But before his term expired, his father died. He returned to India and consigned the mortal remains of his father to the holy waters of the Ganges at Haridwar. He rejoined the Department of English and looked forward to participating in the academic programmes of the Department. The political climate of the country took a queer turn. Internal Emergency was declared. It was about the middle of 1975, Dr.Sarup Singh was appointed Members of the Union Public Service Commission.
In this position he introduced a fresh element in the approach to testing candidates viva-voce. It was his emphasis that students coming from rural background should be assessed on the basis of their response to such questions as are relevant to their situation Candid assertion of his beliefs brought him recognition among bureaucratic circle also. That merit will not be ignored in matters under his consideration, became widely known. But he was not to complete the full terms as Member of the Commission . In 1978 he was elected to the Rajya Sabha by the Haryana Vidhan Sabha as a Janta Party candidate. It was for a six year term. The Janta Party split in 1979 and Chaudhary Charan Singh became the Prime Minister with Congress support But before the vote confidence was to be taken the support was withdrawn and the Government resigned. Fresh elections were called.
The Congress, under the leadership of Mrs Indira Gandhi swept the polls. These events did not affect Dr. Sarup Singh. He continued to contribute to the proceedings of the Rajya Sahba in his own inimitable style, on most occasions transcending party affiliations. At times his interventions in the debates, especially those related to Education gave an impression as if he belonged to the treasury benches. During this period he vigorously pursued his academic interests as well. He published his second book: Shakespeare and Family Relationship in the Restoration Comedy of Manners. He also continued to do some teaching in the Department in his capacity as Professor Emeritus an honour conferred on him by the University of Delhi after his retirement from Universlty in 1977.
His term as Member of Rajya Sabha came to an end in 1984. This was around the time when Military Action known as Operation Blue Star took place. Tension was building up in the political life of the country. The Government action was hailed among most sections of the people of India. Elections to the Lok Sabha were due in the beginning of January, 1985. The Prime Minister declared the holding of election on schedule. It was going to be a tough fight between the contending parties. The Janta Dal persuaded Dr. Sarup Singh to be its candidate from the Rohak parliamentary constituency. The odds appeared to be in his favour. Preparations started in all earnestness. The tragic assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi by her own security guards , who happened to be Sikhs changed the context of the election. A vast majority of people, who would not have thought of voting for the congress rallied behind it as if no register their disapproval of the ghastly killing of the Prime Mnister inspite of popularity the chances of Dr. Sarup Singh's victory appeared bleak. A prominent Haryana leader of his Party went round saying that Dr. Sarup Singh had enough votes already in his pocket and that he hardly needs to beg for the same. The inadvertence also proved costly. Dr. Sarup Singh lost the election The wave that arose in the wake of the tragic assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi took its own toll.
The academician in Dr. Sarup Singh took the defeat in the election to to Sabha in its stride. His academy preoccupations went on unabated. While he continued to teach at the university of Delhi and the Jamia Millia Islamla he devoted sufficient time to his productive work. He published his third book, The Double Standards In Shakespeare and Related Essays in 1988. As far as political activity is concerned he played the role and elderly statesman available for advice on crucial issues and served as a cementing force in the formation of the Janta Dal.
Governor of Gujarat
The elections to the Lok Sabha held in 1989 brought the Janta Dal to power with the support of the Left parties. The new government was looking for eminent persons for appointment to the post of Governor in several states. It is quite a compliment that Dr. Sarup Singh was preferred for appointment as Governor of Kerala. He took up the job with a sense of commitment and performed the role of an elderly person consenting a course of moderation in respect of contentious issues. He was responsible for averting many a piquant situation by his gentle but persuasive intervention at both the Government and at the opposition levels. Dr. Sarup Singh had hardly completed a years tenure when he was transferred to Gujarat. There were several political changes in Gujarat during his tenure. Sarup Singh was looked upon with respect and deference by all concerned. His word of advice was always heeded. All this while Dr. Sahib continued to devote time to the writing of books. His fourth Book: Marriage in Eighteenth Century English Novel, Which was published in 1995 was conceived mainly while he was Governor in Gujarat. He completed his tenure of five years as Governor towards the end of 1994. But the Government considered it advisable not to make the appointment of a new Governor immediately, ultimately, he relinquished charge as Governor of Gujarat in 1995
Dr. Sarup Singh's life has been a saga of handwork , perseverance and sincere in involvement in the job under his charge. He has strike to a welcome balance between academic pursuits and administration. But there is, however, an element of paradox in his thought and conduct. It is difficult to distinguish between the Sattvika and the Rajasika qualities as they appear in the thoughts and actions of Of. Sarup Singh. He is sage-like in his dealings with people and like a solider in his thoughts. As he turns eighty, the balance sheet appears to the m in favour of the word of letters and saner counsel. It is natural, therefore, that a large number of his friends, associates, former students and admirers find in him a rare example of an integrated personality and a source of inspiration for generations to come.
Details of the life sketch of Dr. Sarup Singh
1. Date of birth : 9 th January, 1917
2. Place of birth : Sanghi Village, Rohtak District (Haryana)
3. Education :
- (a) Primary education : (upto Class IV) in Sanghi Village.
- (b) Matriculation : Punjab University (1934)
- (c) Intermediate Arts : Delhi University (1936)
- (d) B.A. (Hons.) in English : Delhi University (1938)
- (e) M.A. in English : Delhi University (1940)
- (f) Ph.D. : London University (1953)
4. Positions held :
- (a) Appointed as Lecturer in Hindu College, Delhi (1940)
- (b) Admitted by University College, London, for Ph.D. in English Literature in 1951. Obtained the Ph.D. degree in 1953 and rejoined Hindu College, Delhi.
- (c) Appointed Vice-Principal of Kirorimal College, Delhi, in 1954.
- (d) Appointed Principal of Kirorimal College, 1957.
- (e) Appointed Professor and Head of the Department of English in the University of Delhi in 1965.
- (f) Appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi in 1969.
- (g) Appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi in January, 1971.
- (h) Resigned from Vice-Chancellorship of the University of Delhi in July, 1974.
- (i) Appointed Visiting Professor, Deptt. of English, University of Illinois, Urbana, USA in August, 1974.
- (J) Appointed Member, Union Public Service Commission, in February, 1975.
- (k) Resigned from the Union Public Service Commission in March, 1978.
- (l) Elected Member of Rajya Sabha in 1978 from Haryana, Term as member ended in April, 1984.
- (m) Appointed Emeritus Professor, Deptt. of English, Delhi University for life.
- (n) Sworn-in as Governor of Kerala on 12 th February, 1990.
- (o) Sworn-in as Governor of Gujarat on 21 st December, 1990.
5. Assignments abroad :
- (a) Visiting Professor, National University of Australia Canberra (1968).
- (b) Visiting Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana, U.S.A. in 1974 and in 1977. Also Visiting Professor at the University of Southern California in 1977.
- (c) Represented India in the United Nations as a member of the Indian Delegation in 1979.
- (d) Represented India in Indonesia and in Denmark in 1967 and 1968 at conference organised by UNESCO to discuss problems of higher education.
6. Publications :
- (a) The Theory of Drama in the Restoration Period. (Orient Longmans, Calcutta, 1963.)
- (b) Family Relationships in Shakespeare and the Restoration Comedy of Manners.(Oxford University Press, New Delhi,1983)
- (c) The Double Standards in Shakespeare and Related Essays : Changing Status of Women in 16 th and 17 th Century England. (Konark Publications, New Delhi, 1988).
- (d) Marriage in the Eighteenth Century English Novel: ISBN:8173041245 H ardcover, 238p.
Pub. Date: Jan 1995 , 1st Ed. Publisher: Manohar Publishers & Distributors
7. Distinctions / Honours :
- (a) D.Litt. from Meerut University, Uttar Pradesh.
- (b) British Council Research Fellowship (1960-61).
- (c) Liverhulme Senior Research Fellowship (1968)
- (d)'Distiguished Citizen Award' given by Delhi Government (1995)
- (e) D.Litt.(Hon Causa) conferred by Delhi University at the Platinum Jubilee Convocation(1998)
Married to Smt. Sushila Devi (1941).
Three daughters and two sons.
9. Hobbies :
Reading, Writing, plays, films, music and travel.
Books on Dr Sarup Singh
Dr. Bhim Singh Dahiya’s 152-page fast-moving biography of Singh titled - Dr. Sarup Singh and His Times an anecdotal account brings to the fore admirably his roles as son, husband, father, teacher, administrator, politician, statesman, and scholar. The book is a carefully researched depiction of a man whose humanitarianism and generosity manifested themselves in every position that he occupied. Himself a former vice-chancellor of Kurukshetra University, an MLA in the Haryana Assembly, and now the first incumbent to the newly created Dr Sarup Singh Chair at the same university, the author’s career bears a striking resemblance to that of his subject. Interestingly both are from Rohtak district, and both earned Ph.Ds in English Studies from abroad; Dr Sarup Singh from the University of London on 18th-century English drama, and Professor Dahiya from the University of Cincinnatti on Ernest Hemingway.
Focusing on the highlights of Dr Sarup Singh’s career, the biography is divided into 19 chapters among which are "A Feel of the Freedom Struggle," "A Popular Teacher," "As Vice-Chancellor (of Delhi University)", "UPSC and Bansi Lal," "As a Member of Parliament," "Exit from Haryana Politics." Born in the small village of Sanghi in Rohtak in 1917, Sarup Singh lost his mother in the first year of his life, leaving him in "the care of an uneducated father and an ignorant grandmother." Though illiterate, his father was keen to ensure that his son acquired a good education, and the boy did not let him down. Completing his schooling from the village school, he passed the Matriculation examination in the Ist division in 1934; BA Hons (English) from Ramjas College, Delhi, in 1938, securing the 2nd position; then stood Ist in MA (English) of Delhi University in 1940; and finally, after 11 years of college teaching, qualified for the Ph.D degree from London University—a rare distinction in that period after India’s independence.
Quoting extensively from written records of former students as well as his own reminiscences of Singh during his years as principal of Kirori Mal College, professors at Kurukshetra University and Delhi University, and vice-chancellor of Delhi University, the author gives us a fascinating account of the heady mix of academics and politics that marked the decades from the 1950s to the 1970s. With the succeeding chapters the tempo quickens as politics plays an increasing role in Dr Sarup Singh’s activities.
Dahiya’s most amusing and ironical chapters on Haryana politics reveal his inside knowledge of the antics of the players in the game as well as his own Falstaffian perspective of amused detachment while surveying the absurdities and contortions of aspirants for power, as well as his Johnsonian irony in describing "the vanity of human wishes" that such aspirations reflect. One such anecdote deserves to be quoted: "As usual in politics, each of the groups (Dr Sarup Singh’s and Ch Devi Lal’s) wanted to corner more tickets than the other. The joke at the time was that while Dr Sarup Singh would not agree on a candidate unless he had at least a BA Pass degree, Ch Devi Lal would reject a candidate if he had an education beyound the High School level." But in the political tussle, Devi Lal proved too wily a fox for Dr Sarup Singh, the academic, to contend with, and, as Dahiya notes with wry humour, "Clearly, the match between Ch Devi Lal and Dr Sarup Singh was highly uneven. It was like a wrestling match between a plump pehalwan and a spectacled scholar."
The book’s last chapters dealing with the evening of Dr Sarup Singh’s life show him to be as mentally alert as ever though, inevitably, physically less energetic than before, as well as being disillusioned with the pettiness of human nature that politics exposed. Finding a refuge in his "favourite world of books," he, nevertheless, continued to remain in touch with the political scene, no more as a participant but simply a spectator: "Whenever Ch Bansi Lal was in Delhi," the author observes, "he always, without fail, called on Dr Sarup Singh for a little gossip, besides inquiring about his health and the welfare of the family. In those quiet days, Dr Sarup Singh’s constant company were his books. I remember his bedroom in his house in Maharani Bagh where he loved to study and entertain his close contacts."
Written with painstaking care, enthusiasm, and admiration, Professor Dahiya’s biography is lively, informative, and delightfully readable.
He died on 6 August 2003.
- Sarup Singh : a living legend by S. S. Rana, ISBN: 8121406536
- Dr S S Rana: Dr Sarup Singh - A Living Legend, Pariwar Parichay Smarika, Delhi, October 1998, pp. 52-58
- Pride of Haryana R.W. Desai, The Tribune Sunday, April 29, 2007
- An extraordinary teacher remembered, The Hindu, Jan 12, 2005
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