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Taranjit Singh Sandhu: BJP's candidate from Amritsar, representing a Sikh legacy at the heart of Sikh faith

Written by  Annesha Barua -- March 31st 2024 12:55 PM
Taranjit Singh Sandhu: BJP's candidate from Amritsar, representing a Sikh legacy at the heart of Sikh faith

Taranjit Singh Sandhu: BJP's candidate from Amritsar, representing a Sikh legacy at the heart of Sikh faith

PTC News Desk: Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India's former Ambassador to the United States, has stepped into the political arena as the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) candidate for the Amritsar constituency, marking his debut in electoral politics.

His connection with Amritsar holds profound historical significance

Born into a family renowned for its pivotal role in Sikh institutions and the liberation of gurdwaras from British-appointed administrators, Taranjit Singh Sandhu's lineage is deeply intertwined with India's struggle for independence. For those well-versed in Sikh history, the mention of being the grandson of Teja Singh Samundri invokes profound respect.

Let's journey back to 1882: Teja Singh, hailing from Burj Rai Ke in the Tarn Taran tehsil of Amritsar district, earned the moniker Teja Singh Samundri after relocating to Samundri in the Lyallpur district of undivided Punjab.

Teja Singh Samundri's story is a testament to resilience and dedication to the Sikh community. Despite his formal education ending at the primary level, his contributions to Sikh institutions and social reforms remain etched in golden letters.

After serving as a Dafadar (Junior Commissioned Officer) in the British Indian army for three-and-a-half years, Samundri became a prominent figure in promoting Sikh religious and social reforms. At a time when colonial powers controlled gurdwaras through non-Sikh mahants or custodians, he played a pivotal role in founding Sikh institutions and advocating for change.

Teja Singh Samundri, iconic Sikh leader and grandfather of Ambassador Sandhu..jpg

Returning to his village, Samundri joined the Chief Khalsa Diwan, a premier Sikh educational and social institution. He went on to establish two Khalsa schools in Sarhali, contributing significantly to Sikh education. Additionally, Samundri was instrumental in the founding of the daily newspaper, Akali, which served as a platform for Sikh activism and awareness.

In 1921, the brutal massacre known as the Saka Nankana Sahib unfolded, resulting in the deaths of at least 168 Sikhs at the hands of British-appointed mahants. In the aftermath, British authorities handed over the administration of Sri Nankana Sahib gurdwara to the Akalis, appointing Samundri to the new managing committee.

His leadership and resistance against colonial rule earned him widespread respect within the Sikh community. Samundri played a crucial role in the formation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in 1920, rising through its ranks to become Vice President.

However, his activism came at a cost. Samundri was imprisoned multiple times for his involvement in various Akali Morchas aimed at challenging British authority and advocating for Sikh rights. Despite facing adversity, he remained steadfast in his commitment to the Sikh cause.

Tragically, Teja Singh Samundri passed away in custody on July 17, 1926, due to a heart attack. His legacy lives on through the Teja Singh Samundri Hall, which houses the SGPC headquarters on the Sri Darbar Sahib complex, serving as a reminder of his enduring contributions to the Sikh community.

Ambassador Sandhu's family background

Ambassador Sandhu's father, Prof. Bishan Singh Samundri, held significant roles in academia, notably serving as the founding Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University. Established in 1969 in Amritsar to commemorate the 500th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib, Guru Nanak Dev University stands as a prominent educational institution in the region. Additionally, Prof. Bishan Singh Samundri served as the Principal of Khalsa College in Amritsar, further contributing to the educational landscape of the city.

Ambassador Sandhu's mother, Jagjit Kaur Sandhu, also made significant contributions to education. She worked as a teacher and later served as the Principal of the Government College for Women in Amritsar. Jagjit Kaur Sandhu pursued her doctoral studies in the United States before embarking on her career in academia.

Ambassador Sandhu's spouse, Reenat Sandhu, is a distinguished member of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and currently holds the position of Ambassador of India to the Netherlands. Their family includes two children, highlighting their commitment to both family and professional endeavors.

Ambassador Sandhu's educational background

Ambassador Sandhu commenced his academic journey at The Lawrence School, Sanawar, before furthering his studies at New Delhi's prestigious St. Stephens' College, where he graduated with honors in history.

Subsequently, he pursued higher education at Jawaharlal Nehru University, where he obtained a master's degree in international relations, consolidating his expertise in global affairs.

Ambassador Sandhu's diplomatic career

Ambassador Sandhu, an esteemed member of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) from the 1988 batch, concluded his illustrious diplomatic journey as India's Ambassador to the United States on February 1, 2024.

Throughout his career, Ambassador Sandhu held various key positions, showcasing his expertise and dedication to diplomatic service. He served twice at the Indian mission in Washington DC, first as Deputy Chief of Mission from July 2013 to January 2017, and earlier as First Secretary (Political), where he handled relations with the United States Congress from 1997 to 2000.

Ambassador Sandhu's diplomatic career.jpg

Additionally, Ambassador Sandhu contributed significantly to India's representation at the United Nations, serving at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York from July 2005 to February 2009. Before assuming his role as Ambassador to the United States, he served as the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka from January 2017 to January 2020, where he played a crucial role in furthering bilateral relations between the two countries.

Furthermore, Ambassador Sandhu's diplomatic career included a tenure as the Consul General of India in Frankfurt from September 2011 to July 2013, where he effectively represented India's interests in Germany.

Ambassador Sandhu's entry into politics

Ambassador Sandhu's decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Amritsar marks his political debut, joining the ranks of former diplomats transitioning into politics under the Modi administration. He follows in the footsteps of distinguished figures such as Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and S. Jaishankar, who have made similar transitions from diplomacy to active political roles.

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(Inputs from agencies)






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