The Legacy of Sardar Pritam Singh in Nepal

Besides his immense contribution to Nepal's transportation sector, Pritam Singh has also contributed significantly in the spheres of education, social services, crisis management, and  empowerment of the people. He also played a  significant role in establishing several gurdwaras throughout Nepal

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Roads to the Valley: The Legacy of Sardar Pritam Singh in Nepal by Kiran Deep Sandhu

Roads to the Valley: The Legacy of Sardar Pritam Singh in Nepal
Author: Kiran Deep Sandhu | Publisher : Notion Press | Publication Year : 2023.   Pages: 307

By  Santokh Singh Bains| Book Review|

A true visionary and pioneer, Sardar Pritam Singh is credited with developing road transport and connectivity in Nepal. In fact he is sometimes rightly referred to as the “Transport King of Nepal.”

Sardar Pritam Singh’s chance meeting  in 1958 on a street of Kathmandu with his old aviation school classmate Captain Trilochan Singh Dulat, who was working for Nepal Aviation in the service of King Mahendra, proved to be a real blessing. Captain Dulat properly introduced Sardar Pritam Singh to the officials of Nepal’s Transport Ministry and King Mahendra’s palace advisors.They encouraged the Sikh gentleman to start transport business in Nepal.

The initial journey of Sardar Pritam Singh’s three trucks from Jammu to Kathmandu, which took almost 16 days in early 1959, was extremely challenging. To cross Karnali river in Western Nepal, three boats had to be tied together before a truck could be loaded over them after creating a strong wooden platform. Later, the trucks had to be driven first parallel to the train tracks and thereafter on the railway tracks after getting  them fitted with flanged steel wheels. The journey to Kathmandu was really arduous.

Nepal’s Transport Minister was pleasantly surprised to see the three trucks with Sardar Pritam Singh in Kathmandu. Following his order, the three trucks were immediately registered and Nepalese driving licenses were issued to the three drivers and also to Sardar Pritam Singh.

In 1959,  Sardar Pritam Singh started his transport service in Nepal; it was known as Nepal Public Motor Service (NPMS). The first NPMS office was opened at a rented location in Amlekhgunj; this small town also served as the last train stop in Nepal.  As his transport business was growing rapidly in the Himalayan kingdom, he kept on bringing more and more trucks to Nepal along with more Sikhs from Kashmir and Punjab for various works like driving, maintenance, painting, tyre replacements etc.

Thus, Sardar Pritam Singh’s family continued to grow their transport business and at one time they owned about 300 trucks. These vehicles were sometimes solicited by the Police, the Army, the Food Corporation and even by King Mahendra. “Whenever King Mahendra and his entourage wanted to go to Chitwan or other places connected by road, we supplied the vehicles; we only charged for the fuel,” says Sardar Pritam Singh whose community of transporters was instrumental in supplying construction materials for several vital projects like the East-West Highway, the Sunauli-Pokhara Road, and the Narayanghat-Butwal Road. Also, the trucks were used for bringing food and other merchandise from India.

Besides his immense contribution in the transportation sector, he has also contributed significantly in the spheres of education, social services, crisis management, and  empowerment of the people.

A devout Sikh, Sardar Pritam Singh played a  very significant role in establishing several gurdwaras throughout Nepal. Mainly due to his efforts, Guru Nanak Satsang Gurdwara was established in 1976 at Kupondole in Kathmandu. This is undoubtedly the largest and the most important non-historical gurdwara in the Himalayan country. An ideal Yatri Niwas (boarding house) has also been constructed within the gurdwara’s compound.

 Earlier, he had ensured establishment of several smaller gurdwaras in various towns of the country: Amlekhgunj (1961), Birgunj (1962), Butwal (1962), and Nepalgunj (1964). Several gurdwaras were initially established within the compounds of the NPMS.

 From time to time, Sardar Pritam Singh was properly awarded and recognized in Nepal as well as in India. Way back in 1963, he was awarded by King Mahendra for rendering laudable services during Nepal’s horrible famine. In 2014, he was honoured with a special Transport Award. At Anandpur Sahib in Punjab in 2015, he was presented a special silver tray for his outstanding contribution for the cause of Sikhism. In 2016, he received Narayani Yatayat Vavasahi Sang Award. In 2017, Sanman Patra was given to him for the positive role played by him for the development of Birgunj Gurdwara.  Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Nepal recognized him in 2019 with its Letter of Honour.

 Sardar Pritam Singh is a staunch believer in family values. He has proved himself to be “a devoted husband, a generous brother, a caring father, and a doting grandfather.”

His amazing life journey offers “valuable lessons on entrepreneurship, leadership, and spirituality, through a plethora of anecdotes, testimonials, and stories …”

 The Nepali readers  will find the biography quite interesting also because a few articles in Nepali language have been included in the remarkable book (page 266 to 270).

 Addition of numerous photographs throughout the book makes a deep impact. The references (page 295 to 303)  provided at the end of the book lend authenticity to the matter contained in the captivating biography.

 Kiran Deep Sandhu, the author of the book who happens to be Sardar Pritam Singh’s daughter, is an accomplished Malaysia-based author, editor,  coach, speaker, and social entrepreneur. She deserves hearty congratulations for preparing the outstanding biography.

RELATED STORY:

Guru Nanak in Nepal (Asia Samachar, 29 April 2018)

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