The Tribune - Magazine section - Saturday Extra Hardit Singh Malik (1894-1985) Not many of the present generation would know very much about Hardit Singh Malik. He was the most distinguished Sikh of his time, and had a remarkable career as a sportsman, civil servant and diplomat. He was born into a well-to-do Sikh family of Rawalpindi in 1894. After schooling in Pindi for a few years, he proceeded to England for further studies. He was then only 14. When World War I broke out in 1919, he volunteered for service in the French Red Cross, and ran an ambulance from the war front to different hospitals in France. After two years he returned to England and joined the Royal Air Force, the first non-Brit with a turban and beard to become a fighter pilot. He took part in dogfights with German war planes over Germany and France. His plane was riddled with hundreds of bullets, of which two pierced his legs. He crashlanded in France, and while doing so, broke his nose. After convalescing for many months in England hospitals, he was back in the battlefield. When the war ended, he joined Balliol College, Oxford. He played cricket and golf for the university. <object width="460" height="370"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.guardian.co.uk/video/embed"></param> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param> <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param> <param name="flashvars" value="endpoint=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2010/sep/29/world-war/json"></param> <embed src="http://www.guardian.co.uk/video/embed" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="460" height="370" flashvars="endpoint=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2010/sep/29/world-war/json"></embed> </object> As soon as he finished college, he was selected for the Indian Civil Service and posted to his home state. He returned home to India after 11 years abroad. He married the younger sister of his elder brother’s wife. Both girls came from a Hindu Arya Samaj family. Both turned devout Sikhs. In their homes, the days began and ended with recitations from Granth Sahib. Malik served in many districts of Punjab before he was appointed Prime Minister of Patiala. He stayed in the post for three years till it was merged in Punjab in 1947. Pandit Nehru appointed him India’s first High Commissioner to Canada. He stayed in Ottawa for three years before taking over as Ambassador of India to France. After a lifetime in service in India and abroad, he retired to his newly built home in New Delhi . Malik had a passion for golf. He was seen at Delhi Golf Club every afternoon till almost the end of his life. He once expressed the wish to die on the golf course. That was not to be. He had a massive heart attack in 1984. A second attack in October, 1985, proved fatal. Malik had no intention of writing his autobiography. He was persuaded by his wife and children to do so. It lay untouched for many years till his daughter Harji Malik took it upon herself to edit it and have it published. A Little Work, A Little Play: The autobiography of HS Malik (Book Wise) is now available in the market. It has an introduction by Pearson, who he befriended in Oxford, and who later became Prime Minister of Canada. It will be a source of inspiration to the present generation, specially to young sardars, who will learn how a person can be both devoutly religious and yet gain worldly success. Sangat ji - Special thanks to Aman Singh ji for finding a photo of Hardip Singh Malik in our photo archives.