The Flying Sikh : Milkha Singh


Sardar Milkha Singh is the greatest living Sikh Athlete. Born in a family of modest means, joining the army and then discovering the penchant for running and winning is his life in summation. . He deservedly got an epithet named “Flying Sikh” from Pakistan General Ayub Khan. Till date (Until 2000 Sydney Olympics) the ‘Flying Sikh’ is the only Indian to have broken an Olympic record. Unfortunately, he was the fourth athlete to reset the mark and thus missed the bronze medal in the 400m event at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

For the man who won 77 of the 80 races he ran, Milkha Singh has no medals. It has been some years that ‘The Flying Sikh’ donated his sporting treasures to the nation. No personal souvenirs line his living room walls, no trophies sit on the mantle. Instead, the walls make do with pictures of the surgeon in America who saved his wife’s life and Havildar Bikram Singh, a Kargil martyr. “I have given permission that my medals be transferred from the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi to the sports museum in Patiala,” says the 72-year-old Singh. Strangely, the stadium gallery lined with many of India’s sporting talent does not have a single picture of Milkha Singh. In a country where great sportspersons are few and far between, India has a strange way of honouring its stars.

But Milkha Singh’s achievements can do without such testimony. “The people of this country remember me. I may have started dyeing my beard but I am recognised at airports, railway stations — anywhere. School textbooks have chapters on me, and somehow the sobriquet ‘The Flying Sikh’ has endured in people’s memory,” he says. Singh, however, has no complaints about the recognition given to him by the government. A Padma Shri and Arjuna Award winner, the legendary athlete who started his career on a Rs 10 wage went on to become director, sports, ministry of education in the Punjab government. “I have received more than I deserved.”

It was a hard uphill climb for the refugee from Muzaffargarh in west Pakistan. The Partition massacres of 1947 took the lives of his parents and Singh was rejected by the army thrice. He subsequently enrolled in the army’s electrical mechanical engineering branch in 1952 when his brother Malkhan Singh put in a word for him, and experienced his first sport outing at its athletics meet a fortnight later. “That was the first time I saw a ground bedecked with flags,” reminisces Singh. “I later participated in a crosscountry race with 300 to 400 jawans. And sat down after the first half mile before starting again — that was my first race.”

Determined to be the best and realising his talent as a sprinter, the jawan took to training five hours every day. Motivated by his coach Havildar Gurdev Singh, he left it to the elements to hone his craft — running on the hills, the sands of the Yamuna river, and against the speed of a metre gauge train. He says so intense was his training that very often he vomitted blood and would collapse in exhaustion.
Every morning Milkha Singh still goes for a jog by the Sukhna lake in Chandigarh. Most afternoons are spent playing golf and he uses the gym in his house regularly. “Discipline. You have to be disciplined if you want to be world class,” he says, “That’s what I tell my son Jeev. I give him the example of Tiger Woods, and hope he would bring the medal I couldn’t.” Jeev Milkha Singh, India’s best golfer, was recently awarded the Arjuna Award and is striving to make a mark on the international golf circuit. Whether he does manage to bring the sporting glory that eluded his father, is yet to be seen. Till then, it is a disappointment that Milkha Singh will never forget. Forty years on, that failure in Rome still haunts him. 1960. The Olympics at Rome.

After clocking a world record 45.8 seconds in one of the 400 metres preliminaries in France, Milkha Singh finished fourth in a photofinish in the Olympics final. The favourite for gold had missed the bronze. By a fraction… “Since it was a photofinish, the announcements were held up. The suspense was excruciating. I knew what my fatal error was: After running perilously fast in lane five, I slowed down at 250 metres. I could not cover the lost ground after that — and that cost me the race.” “After the death of my parents, that is my worst memory,” says Singh, “I kept crying for days.” Dejected by his defeat, he made up his mind to give up sport. It was after much persuasion that he took to athletics again. Two years later, Milkha Singh won two medals at the 1962 Asian Games. But by then his golden period was over.
It was between 1958 and 1960 that Milkha Singh saw the height of glory. From setting a new record in the 200 and 400 metres at the Cuttack National Games, he won two gold medals at the Asian Games at Tokyo. The lean Sikh went on to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, and was awarded the Helms trophy or being the best athlete in 1959.

Three years before the Indo-Pak war of 1965, Milkha Singh ran that one race which made President Ayub Khan christen him ‘The Flying Sikh.’ His defeat of Pakistan’s leading athlete and winner of the 100 metres gold at the Tokyo Asiad, Abdul Khaliq, earned him India’s bestknown sports sobriquet. “It has stuck since,” he adds.

Thirty six years later, Britain’s Ann Packer remembers him too. This time for his camaraderie. Jittery about her performance in the 800 metres against formidable French German and Hungarian athletes in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, Packer clearly remembered her encounter with Singh in the lift they shared on the day of her event. ‘Ann you vill win,’ she recounted Singh’s words to a The Sunday Times journalist at her home in Cheshire recently. And vin she did. Packer clocked 2min 1.1 sec and set a new world record. Singh was among the first to congratulate her.

There are many who still congratulate Milkha Singh. “Sirji, I remember seeing you when I was a young recruit in the army,” said Gairwar Singh as he chanced upon the former athlete getting into his car outside the Chandigarh Golf Club. Elated that Singh stops to shake hands with him, Gairwar Singh — now a driver with a transport company in Delhi — tells him about his interest in wrestling. “It is appreciation from the people that helps me go ahead at this age,” Singh had earlier said at his home in Sector 8, Chandigarh. With two of his daughters married and one away in the United States, and his son travelling around the world regularly — Singh says he enjoys the tranquility. Last year, he adopted the seven-year-old son of Havildar Bikram Singh who died in the Battle for Tiger Hill. The child is at a boarding school and Singh has taken on the responsibility of bringing him up.

“We owe it to those who have died for the honour of our country,” he says, “Unlike our cricketers who have sold our country.” Deeply disappointed with these ambassadors of India’s most popular game, he firmly believes the guilty should be punished. “They cannot mock the aspirations of an entire nation,” says Singh surveying the debris of many a fallen sporting icon.

Say Country What?

The Lady
Now today, I would like to enlighten you about a simple but seemingly complex issue that is ’Patriotism’. Now here in Teen Soup,
my main focus is surely the teens of today or the GenY. But it does reach out to the viewers of all ages. So to speak, this
generation appears to be the ruthless and carefree one, so brothers and sisters I feel you though but a part of me now
understands my lack of belonging towards humanism due to my sheer selfishness. A good example to explain my point to all my
fellow friends would be of citing an example of the biopic of the legendary Aung Sang Su Kyi, titled as The Lady. You guys, I’m
sure most of you don’t even know who she is and what she stood for and still continues to. She is one of the great followers of
the Gandhian principles which in today’s world are only known in theory. She is the driving force behind liberating Burma, now
known as Myanmar from the cruel and atrocious rule of the military force. She chose her country before her dying husband ridden
with cancer and her two young kids. She sacrificed her peaceful life in Oxford to fight for the rights of millions of aggrieved in
Burma and be their voice. The first election that was a result of her non-violent aggitations turned victorious for her with she
winning by 392 to 10 votes. Still she believed that her struggle and fight wasn’t over and there was a lot left to do in Burma.
She was kept on a house arrest for 15 long years away from her family. She was conferred with the Noble Peace Prize during the
time she served under strict prohibitions. Sadly her life had always been tragic with she first losing her father, country, mother and
later husband. And inspite of such a traumatic and life changing experience, she was hurt both mentally and psychologically but
she carried on with the vision she had come with in Burma. So teens, don’t you think she is enough of an inspiration for us to
change that I couldn’t care a damn attitude to actually realize what we have is through the sacrifices of many such people like
Gandhi, Mandela, Su Kyi etc. If we can’t get the meaning of freedom then better atleast respect it. Because what comes to us so
easily is a result of phenomenas like mass protects, genocides, sacrifices etc. I myself am not a person too much into patriotism
or nationalism. But after watching this beautiful movie of this Iron Lady, it gave me a reason to cherish what I’ve been gifted with.
So people, look up from those bedazzled phones, fancy watches, expensive shoes and mirror to see and understand life more
than materialism. Yes we have been brought up in a free world, but underestimating those martyrs would be a shame and
disgrace to them and their personal loss. So just try to go beyond what’s written in texts and utilize those teachings and principles
left like an abandoned kid wanting to be needed again or a dog wanting to be adopted. Look through the travails of time, and
worship your country like the monks of Burma to the ultimate sacrifice of Su Kyi for her people. This article wasn’t my plan, but the
impact or the impression that this movie left on me was worth sharing and making aware of.

Knowing A Beautiful Country Called India : Simply Incredible

India is a country of natural and historical wonders. There are so many things to know about India. India is home to plenty of rivers, mountains, mountain passes, tribes and clans, and geological territories. India is a country that truly features “unity in diversity”. With so many races and cultures, India ranks as one of the culturally diversified countries of the world. Rich in flora and fauna, the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks amaze the tourists. The snow-clad mountains, waterfalls, and picturesque rivers charm the visitors.

The Indian economy is finally overcoming some of the obstacles that have traditionally been cumbersome to growth and today, India’s economic growth rate is among the fastest in the world, based largely on a flair for information technology and knowledge-based industries. As a result, India is providing an IT workforce for high tech companies around the world and is gradually on the path to becoming the “knowledge center” for the global technology economy.

Most of us know this, but here are 15 facts that you may not know. These facts are as of December 06, so some of them might have changed, especially number 6. If you have recent information, leave a comment and I will add it to the list:

India is one of only three countries that makes supercomputers (the US and Japan are the other two).

India is one of six countries that launched satellites.

The Bombay stock exchange lists more than 6,600 companies. Only the NYSE has more.

Eight Indian companies are listed on the NYSE; three on the NASDAQ.

By volume of pills produced, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is the world’s second largest after China.

India has the second largest community of software developers, after the U.S.

India has the second largest network of paved highways, after the U.S.

India is the world’s largest producer of milk, and among the top five producers of sugar, cotton, tea, coffee, spices, rubber, silk, and fish.

100 of the Fortune 500 companies have R&D facilities in India.

Two million people of Indian origin live in the U.S.

Indian-born Americans are among the most affluent and best educated of the recent immigrant groups in the U.S.

Thirty percent of the R&D researchers in American pharmaceutical companies are Indian Americans.

Nearly 49% of the high-tech startups in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. are owned by Indians or Indian-Americans.

India sends more students to U.S. colleges than any country in the world. In 2004-2005, over 80,000 Indian students entered the U.S. China sent only 65,000 students during the same time.

In a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, an Indian-American woman scientist, Dr. Ananda Chakrabaty, won the argument that persons may be granted patents for useful manufacture of living organisms. She defeated the U.S. Patent Office, that argued that living things may not be patented, thus establishing the legal foundation for the biotech industry. Dr. Chakrabaty invented a microbe that eats oil spills.

PATRIOTISM: Teenage Lesson #5

Something which we hate talking about. And I mean it, literally hate. Why? Not cool to talk about people who sacrificed their lives just for us, the selfish ones? The ones who without once thinking of their families  were ready to take the guns? Guys, are we really that mean of teens? Did’nt think so. Believe me, if they would’ve come to look at how we guys have turned our mother land, India to, they would’nt have been proud to have put their lives & homes at stake just for our being. Pathetic it is, I say. I myself being a teen, don’t really like talking of such stuff. But when Dad starts with his Pandora box of patriotic knowledge, that sense of belonging just erupts within me like a voltaic lava. I get shocked at times when I think of myself being that way. But the true Indian in me just erupts from nowhere. Guys, thinking of cars, the opposite sex, porn, videos etc. is okay & normal for us as teens. But to ponder of how it lead to our independence struggle, how it ended etc. should also be given considerate importance. It requires your ears & attention. It has been craving to reveal it’s truth & reality, but nobody to listen sadly. India, is the seventh largest country by area, the second most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Four of the world’s major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism—originated here, whereas Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam arrived in the 1st millennium CE and also helped shape the region’s diverse culture. The Indian economy is the world’s eleventh-largest by nominal GDP and third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It  also has the third largest standing army in the world and ranks ninth in military expenditure among nations. Now after so much of development, advancement, an expanse of scenic beauty, history, diverse religious groups & what not, don’t you think this country has more to give than us to offer? Then why not conquer the super cool demon in us & uplift the patriotism? Like yesterday only, I was reluctant to watch this movie, ‘The Bhopal Express’, telling the tale of the major Union Carbide Gas Tragedy in Bhopal, where over 8000 people died. After searching a lot on imdb, I got to know it’s synopsis & somehow I just had to watch it. It actually made me cry like a baby. Seeing the peoples’ suffering & pain, I could’nt have felt more ashamed & embarrassed of the deflated Indian in me. Guys, try to adhere to those History & Political Science lectures at times. It has a lot to reveal about India & it’s fascinating tales. Not only the Indians, but I preach this to all my other fellow country mates. Revive the ‘Indian’ in you. Jai Hind.