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Sardar Swaran Singh
Sardar Swaran Singh.jpg
Minister of Defence
In office
10 October 1974 – 1 December 1975
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byJagjivan Ram
Succeeded byIndira Gandhi
In office
13 November 1966 – 27 June 1970
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byYashwantrao Chavan
Succeeded byJagjivan Ram
Minister of External Affairs
In office
27 June 1970 – 10 October 1974
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byDinesh Singh
Succeeded byYashwantrao Chavan
In office
18 July 1964 – 14 November 1966
Prime MinisterLal Bahadur Shastri
Indira Gandhi
Preceded byLal Bahadur Shastri Acting
Succeeded byM. C. Chagla
Minister of Agriculture
In office
1 September 1963 – 9 June 1964
Prime MinisterJawaharlal Nehru
Preceded byS. K. Patil
Succeeded byChidambaram Subramaniam
Minister of Railways
In office
10 April 1962 – 21 September 1963
Prime MinisterJawaharlal Nehru
Preceded byJagjivan Ram
Succeeded byH. C. Dasappa
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Personal details
Swaran Singh Purewal

(1907-08-19)19 August 1907
Shankar Village, Punjab Province, British India
Died30 October 1994(1994-10-30) (aged 87)
New Delhi, India
Cause of deathCardiac Arrest
SpouseCharan Kaur
ChildrenParam Panag, Sat Boparai, Iqbal Sidhu, Jasvinder Kaur
ParentSardar Partap Singh Shankar
EducationRandhir College, Kapurthala, Government College Lahore

Sardar Swaran Singh (19 August 1907 – 30 October 1994) was an Indian politician. He was India's longest-serving union cabinet minister.[1]He is father-in-law of GBS SIDHU former IPS officer of 1964 batch and a R&AW officer who played important role in Sikkim merger of India and written books named "The Khalistan Conspiracy: (A Former R&AW Officer Unravels the Path to 1984)" and "Sikkim Dawn of Democracy: (The Truth Behind the Merger with India)"

Early life

Swaran Singh Purewal was born on 19 August 1907 in Shankar (village) in Jalandhar district of Punjab. He was born in Jat Sikh family. He completed his intermediate (High school) at Randhir College in Kapurthala. He then joined Government College, Lahore and completed a degree in Physics with honors.[citation needed]

He then worked as a lecturer in Physics in Lyallpur Khalsa College. After leaving this job he studied law in Government law college in Lahore and received his L.L.B in 1932.[citation needed]

He started a law practice near his birth village in the nearby town of Jallandhar, specialising in criminal law.[citation needed]

Political career

The early days

In 1930s he joined the Akali Dal political party and by the mid forties he was a prominent leader in the mid-1940s. He played an important role in the compromise between the Indian national congress party and the Akali Dal in the early 1940s.[citation needed]

Just before the 1946 elections, the Panthic Party was formed with Baldev Singh as the leader and Singh was elected its deputy leader. In 1946 he was elected a member of the Punjab legislative assembly. He then became parliamentary secretary to the Punjab Coalition government.[citation needed]

He was a member of the Punjab Partition Committee where he played an important role.[citation needed]

On 15 August 1947, the day of Indian Independence he was sworn in as Home Minister in the cabinet of the state of Punjab. At the same time the capital of the Punjab was shifted from Shimla to Jalandhar.[citation needed]

On 13 May 1952 he resigned his position here when Jawaharlal Nehru included him in the central cabinet.[2][3]

In the central government

He entered the cabinet of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1952, and was that government's last surviving member.

He spent 23 years of his life as a high ranking Cabinet Minister in the Government of India. He had a reputation for being an effective debater and negotiator. "His debates at the UN Security Council on Bangladesh's cause, when East Pakistan liberation war (1971) was in full swing, were impressive," attests Former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, Narendra P Jain, "He proved to be more than just a match for his then Pakistani counterpart Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. During one of the council debates when Bhutto said that Sardar's hands are full of blood in conflict, Swarn Singh got up and showed his clean, spotless hands."[4] He was familiar with and was a proficient speaker of several languages. He assisted Jawaharlal Nehru in his talks with the Chinese leader Chou-En-Lai, on the Indo-China border question in 1960. He was in the Indian delegation during the six rounds of talks with Pakistan in 1962–63.[5]

He remained a part of successive governments until he resigned in November 1975.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1957, 1962, 1967 and 1972.

Cabinet positions

To this date he is the longest-serving union cabinet minister in India.[citation needed] Babu Jajgivan Ram holds the record for maximum duration as cabinet minister i.e. around 30 years, but the record for consistent and uninterrupted membership of the cabinet in continuation is held by Mr. Swaran Singh.[citation needed]

Ministry Date
Works, Housing and Supplies 1952–1957
Steel Mines and Fuel 1957–1962
Agriculture 1963-1964
Railways 1962–1963
External Affairs 1964–1966
Defence 1966–1970
External Affairs 1970–1974
Defence 1974–1976

He is best known for his role as India's external affairs minister.[citation needed]

He was also president of the National Congress in 1969, and 1978.[citation needed]

External Affairs Minister

He visited the USSR in July 1966 along with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

On 9 August 1971, he signed "The Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation between the USSR and the Republic of India" which provided for closer contacts between the two countries in economic, political cultural and other fields. The treaty was also a defense pact under with both countries were obliged to come to each other's assistance in the event go a conflict with a third country. This treaty was binding for 20 years and was co signed by Andrei Gromyko[6]

He led the Indian delegation to the UN general assembly in 1971 to explain India's position in the ongoing war with Pakistan.[7][8]

George H. W. Bush, who at the time was the US Ambassador to the UN and led the US delegation at the UN security council demanded an unconditional cease fire by India to which Swaran Singh responded, "this one sided and partisan attitude of the distinguished representative of the United States has shocked and surprised us. The US is entitled to its own opinions and interpretations, so are we. But facts are facts and must be stated. Right from the beginning of this unfortunate situation that has arisen in the subcontinent, India had been asking for a political settlement acceptable to elected and acknowledged representatives of the people of Bangladesh."[9]

On 16 December 1971, East Pakistan troops there surrendered to joint forces of Bangladesh and India, who had seized the capital city of Dacca (now Dhaka).[10]

Swaran Singh Committee

Mohammad Amir Khatamiو his wife and Asadollah Alam, Indira Gandhi and Sardar Swaran Singh during his trip to Iran
Mohammad Amir Khatamiو his wife and Asadollah Alam, Indira Gandhi and Sardar Swaran Singh during his trip to Iran


Sardar Swaran Singh was chairperson of the committee entrusted with the responsibility of studying the Constitution of India in 1976 during the national emergency.[11] Soon after the declaration of the national emergency, Indira Gandhi constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh to study the question of amending the constitution in the light of past experiences. Based on its recommendations, the government incorporated several changes to the Constitution including the Preamble, through the Forty-second Amendment of the Constitution of India (passed in 1976 and came into effect on 3 January 1977)[11]


He was awarded Padma Vibhushan award - the second highest civil award by the republic of India in 1992.[1]

The Eminent Persons Group on South Africa

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Sardar Swaran Singh met with Nelson Mandela in prison three times in the mid 1980s. He was a member of the eminent persons group on South Africa sponsored by the Commonwealth Institute that consisted of Malcolm Fraser who had been Prime Minister of Australia for eight years, General Obasanjo of Nigeria, Lord Barber who had been Edward Heath's Chancellor of the Exchequer and was also chairman of the Standard Chartered Bank, Dame Nita Barrow, Reverend Scott and John Malecela, a Tanzanian former government minister. The group went to South Africa and spent five weeks there to collect information, interact with local people, and met with Nelson Mandela and the ANC; their findings were published by the Commonwealth Institute entitled "Mission to South Africa: the Commonwealth Report".

UNESCO Boards of Directors

Sardar Swaran Singh served as a member of board of directors from 1985 - 1989 for sessions 123 - 132.[12]


  1. ^ "Articles by PRS Team".
  2. ^ "Pakistan Study Centre" (PDF). Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Africa and South Asia, Volume XI, Part 2 - Office of the Historian". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Swarn Singh had precision, Vajpayee an instinctive feel, while Rao had hand on pulse". 12 July 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Jewels of Jalandhar". Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  6. ^ The Times. 10 August 1971. ((cite news)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "SYND 11-12-71 INTERVIEW WITH INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SWARAN SINGH IN LONDON". YouTube. 23 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  8. ^ "INDIA WALKOUT - SOUND". YouTube. 21 July 2015. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  9. ^ "YouTube". YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  10. ^ Pace, Eric. "Swaran Singh, 87, Spokesman For India During War in 1971". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "Swaran Singh committee recommends new chapter on fundamental duties in the Constitution". India Today. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  12. ^ "India - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
Political offices Preceded byJagjivan Ram Minister of Railways 1962 – 1963 Succeeded byH. C. Dasappa Preceded byLal Bahadur Shastri Minister for External Affairs of India 1964 – 1966 Succeeded byM C Chagla Preceded byYashwantrao Chavan Minister of Defence 1966 – 1970 Succeeded byJagjivan Ram Preceded byDinesh Singh Minister for External Affairs of India 1970 – 1974 Succeeded byYashwantrao Chavan Preceded byJagjivan Ram Minister of Defence 1974 – 1975 Succeeded byBansi Lal