Iqbal Singh Biography: Iqbal Singh Kingra (1 May 1926 – 29 January 2022) was an Indian Sikh religious and social leader. He established The Kalgidhar Trust, The Kalgidhar Society, and Baru Sahib. He was regarded as one of the most influential Sikhs on the planet. In 2016, he received the Sikh Lifetime Achievement Award. Takht Sri Harmandir Ji Patna Sahib awarded him the Shiromani Panth Rattan (precious jewel of the Sikh community) in 2018. The Government of India awarded him the Padma Shri in 2022 for his contributions to the sphere of social work.
Iqbal Singh Biography
Singh was born to Sanwal Singh and Gulab Kaur in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab’s Bharyal Lehri. Young Iqbal Singh was captivated by the lives of Dhruva and Bhakta prahlada, on the one hand, and Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, Guru Gobind Singh’s junior Sahibzadas, on the other. In sixth grade, he was influenced by the lives of Ashoka’s daughter and son, Sanghamitta and Mahinda.
Iqbal Singh Education and Career
In 1949, Singh earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Lyallpur, Pakistan. In Pakistan, he encountered Teja Singh Ji and Attar Singh, whose teachings influenced him. He subsequently became Teja Singh Ji’s disciple. Singh was profoundly moved by their lives and philosophies. While pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture science, he maintained constant communication with Teja Singh.
Iqbal Singh later worked for the administration of Himachal Pradesh. He disclosed the previously known Tapo Bhoomi at Baru Sahib, which was founded in 1956. Iqbal Singh established and registered The Kalgidhar Trust and The Kalgidhar Society in 1982.
Awards and distinctions
In January 2011, he attended a Workshop on Global Development and Institutions Inspired by Faith in South and Central Asia in Dhaka, Bangladesh, organised by Georgetown University’s Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. In November 2013, globe Sikh Awards UK ranked him as the fifth most influential Sikh in the globe.
In April 2014, the New York City State Assembly presented him with a Citation for being an Outstanding Individual worthy of the respect of the nation, the community, and the Great State of New York for promoting tolerance to all people regardless of culture or ethnicity.
In December 2014, he participated as a guest of distinction in The Alliance of Religions: Peace Summit of the Americas and signed the symbolic Peace Agreement.
NICER (National Institute of Cleanliness Education Research) presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in March of 2016.
On November 19, 2016, Top Sikh 100, London, presented Baba Iqbal Singh with the Sikh Lifetime Achievement Award.
Assisted in opposing the Turban prohibition by FIBA International.
Takht Sri Harmandir Ji Patna Sahib bestowed upon him the “Shiromani Panth Rattan” in July of 2018.In 2022, the Government of India awarded him the Padma Shri for his contributions to the sphere of social work.
Iqbal Singh retired from the administration of Himachal in 1986. After his retirement, he moved permanently to Baru Sahib and promptly began working at Brahm Vidya Kendra. With the assistance of Khem Singh Gill, he opened the Akal Academy with five students and a single classroom. The school later evolved into a private 10+2 English-language institution affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education in New Delhi. This institution is currently affiliated with the IB Primary Years Programme.
In addition to the educational programmes, Iqbal Singh established 129 low-cost schools and two private institutions in Baru Sahib, Himachal Pradesh, as well as several other locations in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
Iqbal Singh has been working with the assistance of beneficiaries and volunteers to provide education in North India’s rural, disadvantaged regions. He believed that rural children were excluded from the mainstream and unable to contribute to the nation’s development, so it was necessary to “educate-enshrine-empower” such a large population.
He founded Eternal University at Baru Sahib in 2008 and Akal University at Damdama Sahib in Punjab in 2015. His biography by Benedict Parmanand was published in April 2017 in New Delhi by former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Iqbal Singh Controversies
Iqbal Singh has been criticised for his views on the early schedule of his pupils, their vegetarianism, and the school’s simple dress code. In the institution he founded, students are expelled if discovered defiling their hair or beards in accordance with Sikh doctrine.
In 2008, Akal Academy/Akal College of Engineering and Technology became the subject of controversy. It was asserted that the ‘Turban’ was being forced upon them. Akal Academy later responded to the controversy by stating that Sikh students were required to don the Turban while children of other faiths were required to wear a simple patka.
Singh passed away on January 29, 2022, at the age of 95 in Baru Sahib.