Kartar Singh Duggal was an Indian writer who besides Punjabi, also wrote with equal ease in Urdu, Hindi, and English and excelled in all genres of writings such as short stories, novels, dramas and plays. These have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages. Professionally, he worked in the All India Radio, and retired as a Director. In 1988, he was awarded one of the highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan by Government of India; and in 2007, the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour given by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters. He was also a member of parliament (M.P.) after being nominated for Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Indian Parliament) in August, 1997.
Kartar Singh Duggal was born on 1 March 1917, in Dhamal, Rawalpindi District, of British India; now in Pakistan; to Jiwan Singh Duggal and Mrs. Satwant Kaur. He received his M.A. Honours in English from Forman Christian College, Lahore.
In 1942, Duggal started his professional career with All India Radio (AIR). He worked there for 24 years till 1966 in various positions including the Station Director. He also wrote and produced programmes in Punjabi and other languages. He authored a large number of plays and dramas.
From 1966 to 1973, he held the position of the Secretary and later Director of the National Book Trust, India.
From 1973 to 1976, he served as an Information Advisor at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (Planning Commission).
He also helped in founding of many institutions, including Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation, Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bangalore; and Zakir Husain Educational Foundation.
Kartar Singh Duggal, in a love-marriage, married Ayesha Jaffri, a Pakistani girl who was doing her medicine course at Lady Harding Medical College in Delhi. He was well travelled and had visited Bulgaria, North Korea, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, the UK and U.S. He resided in New Delhi after retirement and spent his time reading.
He died on 26 January 2012, at the age of 94, after a brief illness.
Duggal has authored twenty four collections of short stories, ten novels, seven plays, seven works of literary criticism, two poetry collections and an autobiography. Many of his books have been adopted by various universities for graduate studies. He has also rendered a fine translation of the holy Guru Granth Sahib in poetic English in tune with the spirit of the scripture. Among his works are:
Veehveen Sadi te Hor Kavitaavaan (Twentieth Century and Other Poems)
Kandhe Kandhe (Shore Shore)
Sarad Poonam Ki Raat (A Cold Full Moon Night)
Tere Bhanhe (Your Wishes)
Nails and Flesh (1969)
Awards and Honours
Duggal was associated with many literary and cultural associations including being the President of Punjabi Sahitya Sabha (Punjabi Literary Society), Delhi.
He was nominated Fellow of the Punjabi University in 1984. He was also honoured with nomination to the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Indian Parliament) in August, 1997.
He has bestowed with many awards throughout his career, including:
Sahitya Akademi Award in 1965
Ghalib Award in 1976
Soviet Land Award in 1981
Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award
Padma Bhushan in 1988
Punjabi Writer of the Millennium, by the Government of Punjab
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah