Kartar Singh Duggal – The Indian Top Bureaucrat Who Was Also One of the Greatest Writers of India Post-Independence


Kartar Singh Duggal

Quick Facts

  • Name: Kartar Singh Duggal
  • Famous As: Writer
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Birth Date: 1 March 1917
  • Birth Place: Dhamal, Rawalpindi District, British India (now in Pakistan)
  • Died On: 26 January 2012
  • Awards: Sahitya Akademi Award (1965), Padma Bhushan (1988)
  • Parents: Jiwan Singh Duggal (Father), Mrs. Satwant Kaur (Mother)
  • Spouse: Ayesha Duggal (Ayesha Jaffri)


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.

Brief Bio

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.

Professional Career

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.

Personal Life

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.

Padma Bhushan Kartar Singh Duggal (1917 – 2012)


He died on 26 January 2012, at the age of 94, after a brief illness.

His Works

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



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Raj Kumar Hansdah
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Raj Kumar Hansdah, better known as RK, fell in love with books at his mother’s knees; and the fascination with the printed word kept growing over the years and still continues to be his passion. An alumnus of IIM-Indore and IISWBM-Kolkata, he had also attended IIM-Calcutta. He has more than two decades of corporate experience with companies in the public and private domain, namely SAIL, Jaypee Group, and Adani Group at the rank of General Manager in the Human Resources vertical. He loves to freelance as a literary consultant, a management consultant, and a writer. When he is not busy reading, ghostwriting or working on his debut thriller; not necessarily in that order; he loves to spend time with his wife and son.

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