Zail Singh Biography

Gyani Zail Singh, the seventh President of the Republic of India, was a deeply religious and knowledgeable individual, despite lacking formal secular education. He dedicated his life to fighting for freedom and social reform, always advocating for the upliftment of the downtrodden. Inspired by the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his companions, Zail resolved to follow in their footsteps and contribute to the welfare of his nation. Despite facing imprisonment and solitary confinement, his spirit remained unbroken. Eventually, he joined the Indian National Congress and held various esteemed positions in the cabinet before being elected as the President of India.

Quick Facts

  • Indian Celebrities Born In May
  • Also Known As: Gyani Zail Singh
  • Died At Age: 78
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Pardhan Kaur
    • Father: Bhai Kishan Singh
    • Mother: Mata Ind Kaur
  • Presidents
  • Political Leaders
  • Died on: December 25, 1994
  • Place of death: Chandigarh, India
  • Cause of Death: Accident

Childhood & Early Life

Gyani Zail Singh was born in a mud house to a poor family in Faridkot district in Punjab, India. His father, Bhai Kishan Singh, worked as the village carpenter. He was the youngest among six siblings, including five brothers and a sister. Tragedy struck the family when his mother died when he was just a child, and the children were later brought up by their mother’s sister. Despite their humble background, Zail Singh’s family had a small piece of land to till. He was brought up in a religious environment and became well versed in the holy scriptures of the Sikhs at an early age.

Education and Early Political Involvement

As a teenager, Zail Singh was accepted into the Shahid Sikh Missionary College at Amritsar, even though he did not have a matriculation certificate. He was a confident young man with excellent public speaking skills, earning him the title “Gyani” for his knowledge of the Guru Granth Sahib and religious studies. He was fluent in Punjabi and Urdu and captivated audiences with his oratory skills. The hanging of Bhagat Singh and his companions in 1931 deeply impacted Zail Singh, who was just 15 at the time.

Career in Politics

Zail Singh was actively involved in politics from a young age and joined the Shiromani Akali Dal when he was 15. In 1938, he established the Praja Mandal, a political organization allied to the Congress party in Faridkot. This move was seen as a threat to the Maharaja of Faridkot, leading to Zail Singh’s capture and imprisonment. Despite being kept in solitary confinement and tortured for his political activities, he remained steadfast in his ideals. After India gained independence, he served as the Revenue Minister of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) and later became the Minister of Agriculture. He also served as a member of the Rajya Sabha until 1962.

Chief Minister of Punjab and Presidency

In the 1972 Punjab Assembly elections, Congress came to power, and Zail Singh became the Chief Minister of Punjab. During his tenure, he implemented a lifelong pension scheme for freedom fighters and organized religious meetings. He joined Indira Gandhi’s cabinet as the Minister of Home Affairs in 1980 and was elected as the President of India in 1982. However, some criticized his selection as President, believing it was due to his loyalty to Indira Gandhi rather than his capabilities. His presidency was marked by controversial events such as Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Personal Life and Legacy

Gyani Zail Singh was married to Pardhan Kaur and had one son and three daughters. In November 1994, he was involved in a vehicle accident that left him seriously injured. He passed away on December 25, 1994, due to his injuries.

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