“Super”- Dr Daljit Singh of Amritsar / By Rashmi Talwar

“Super”- Dr Daljit Singh of Amritsar

Rashmi Talwar

Other than the Magnificent Golden Temple and stimulus to the Freedom Struggle of India- the Jallianwala Bagh, much of world knew Amritsar as the place of renowned ophthalmologist Dr Daljit Singh, the inimitable surgeon and researcher who revolutionized eye care for the world.

“Being true to your Profession is the Biggest Patriotism!” Dr Daljit Singh believed, and followed this focus throughout his glorious innings.

True to his words his children Dr Ravijit Singh Dr Kiranjit Singh completed their surgeries while Dr Indu and Dr Seema prepared Dr Daljit Singh’s body for his last Journey, to join in, when he quietly passed away, after being in coma for a week.

This amply exhibits the dedication of this family towards a lofty mission of attending to the suffering, keeping all else on hold, before proceeding to their various tasks and toils.

Dr Ravijit Singh took the mike on the last condolence meet of the Bhog Ceremony of his beloved father Dr Daljit Singh- “Every father is a Superman for his children”, he started.
“My father too was a superman for us!”

As a boy nick named Ghuggu since he spoke nearly a year after his birth on 11 October 1934, Ghuggu became Daljit Singh, born to Sahib Singh, a Sikh academic of Sikh literature.

In the eyes of his children, he was a ‘Super Son’ who served his parents through their long illnesses.
Ravijit extolled, peeling away bit by bit to share hidden glimpses of the life and memories of his father, before a crowd of nearly 5000 people gathered, to pay respects to Amritsar’s Lofty son Dr Daljit Singh.

Our father was a – ‘Super Student’ making sketches of his teachers who often shunted him out of their class and like Aamir Khan of Three Idiots – a born learner, who would sit in the library and score more marks than the best of them!

A ‘super husband’ who had a love marriage in such times as in 1957. Dr Daljit wrote in his fiancée Sawarn’s gifted diary– ‘Professional competence is the best Patriotism’ and stood by it throughout.

A ‘super sportsman’ wherein his sons couldn’t beat him in carom, chess, table tennis or Billiards. A city club etched Dr Daljit Singh’s name twice as a Billiards Champion.

A ‘Super worker’ who worked 16-18 hours a day and rose at the crack of dawn.

A ‘Super Innovator’ who picked up a liquid from a dentist’s table and used it to create his revolutionary first intraocular lens.

A ‘Super Ophthalmologist’ who needs no introduction suffice to say, he won the Padam Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in 1987. A Dr BC Roy Award credited with isolating three new genes causing congenital cataract and invented “plasma scalpel” for glaucoma and cataract surgery and pioneered a number of innovative and revolutionary surgical instruments.

At the same time a ‘Super instrumentalist’, who played the harmonium, the Tablaa, the flute and eventually left the world trying to master the elusive saxophone.

A ‘Super Techno’ who mastered every new technological innovation that emerged– “He would tell me my laptop or mobile needs upgradation, which meant that he was going to pass on his old laptop or phone to me to buy a new one for himself,” Dr Ravijit inserted with a smile.

A “Super Wi-Fi” with a super antenna to connect to people, track a needy, and help him without boasting. Keeping a Thursday free OPD for poor patients, since years. Also, helping hundreds of Kashmiri boys with pellet injuries who came in droves from trouble torn Kashmir valley. Many a times the family encouraged victims towards the path of education instead of a pointless future in stone pelleting. No wonder, on the sound of my hometown being ‘Amritsar’, many Kashmiris pounced on – ‘Do you know Dr Daljit Singh?’, during my many trips to Jammu and Kashmir. Dr Daljit Singh’s crowning glory was however restoring vision of 11 children, who had lost their eyesight in LPG cylinder blast at Independence Day celebrations in Orissa in 1986.

A “Super photographer” who bought new Cameras with each of his monthly salaries and took perfect shots- “We found his cameras in drawers, cupboards, every nook and corner of the house.”

A “Super Painter” who even intended to take a hobby course in painting towards the fag end of his life at the local Thukur Singh Art Gallery and painted 30 water colour landscapes in a go, along with a repertoire of hundreds of sketches, he left behind.

A ‘Super Author’ who penned over a dozen books on ophthalmology, Dr Singh wrote two poetry and three anthologies of essays: “Sach di Bhal Vich” (In search of truth), “Dooja Passa”(The other side) and “Badi di Jarh” (The root of evil) to educate rural masses about national and international issues. Noted Punjabi author and close friend Kulbir Singh Suri, son of late legendary Punjabi novelist Nanak Singh, said- Dr Singh wrote a book titled ‘Naroi Akh’ (Healthy Eye) in Punjabi decades ago. His three poetry books —‘Dharti Tirhai’, ‘Sidhre Bol’ and ‘Babre Bol’ have been translated into Urdu, English and Hindi.

‘Super Simple’ with no clue of his shirt matching his trousers or turban; often a red socks synchronised his step with a blue one.

And towards the conclusion when I and many amongst us assumed that the last Super-lative by Ravijit would be “Dr Daljit Singh was a ‘Super-Human!”, Dr Ravijit surprised us by adding –Our father was a “Super Teacher” – One who loved teaching, spreading, sharing his vast knowledge in the most simplistic way with everyone including on topics as diverse as economics, politics, finance, anything.

It is not every day a true human is born, with all his fullness, feelings, faults and fallacies.

In 2007-08, Dr Daljit Singh made noble efforts to set up a speciality charitable eye hospital in Nankana Sahib Pakistan along with a university to be named Guru Nanak Dev University in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of the founder Sikh Guru Nanak Dev along with his Pak friend Prof TH Kirmani. Even offering to send Indian doctors to tutor Pak doctors and bring excellent eye care to the sacred land of Sikhs. Lamentingly, the agreement fell through. The demarcated land donated by a local resident Fazal Rabbani was occupied by Pak army and relations soured, over the years between the two nations.

At another juncture, Dr Daljit Singh, the surgeon, with as sharp a wit and forthrightness as his invented scalpel, remained unmindful of anyone’s stature or status and therefore couldn’t successfully win the diplomatic and flattery-ridden field of politics as an AAP candidate.

Alternately, he snatched 80,000 votes, a clean sweep by many standards as a greenhorn in politics, during MP elections 2014, from political heavyweights Arun Jaitley- and Capt Amarinder Singh- who went on to become Union Finance Minister and Chief Minister of Punjab, respectively. Dr Singh intended to bring clean governance from a political platform but couldn’t be manipulated to tell lies, half-truths or stoop to briberies.

Even though holding abhorrence for the political climate of our country, I became Dr Daljit Singh’s Media Manager, solely because he was a father figure to me. And I landed an opportunity to relive some times of our childhood days with him. In the late 60s and early 70s, Dr Daljit occasionally bicycled to our home from the Government Eye hospital opposite our house.

As children then, we lined up to see his bicycle with gears, a rare contraption those times, that held contiguous fascination for me for a long time. Sometimes he even took a shot at our Table Tennis table and once took multiple close-shot pictures of my sister’s hazel eyes, ever since, he focused they possessed rare blue specs in them.
“Fer Chaa piyao!” he would say on a rare chilly evening, while visiting home. And merrily slurp his tea, savouring every masala and mazaa of it.

On a closer note Dr Daljit told me – ‘Tu acha likhdi hain’ that sounded in present times like the Dangal ‘Shabaash’ of Mahavir Singh Phogat to his daughter Geeta winning the gold. And in return – ‘le meri kitab par’ and handed me a number of his books written by him originally in Punjabi.

Dr Daljit Singh’s family -Dr Ravjit Singh and Dr Kiranjit Singh – and daughters-in-law, Dr Indu R Singh and Dr Seema Singh, form a formidable team of eye surgeons.

On my visit to Dr Daljit Singh’s home after his passing away, I could sense that the home still held his warmth of touches, thoughts, his genius, and ensconced his family most lovingly.

I wish, I could bring that warmth in my home with one of his paintings, to get inspired by the Master by his Master strokes, never saying adieu to him.

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39 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Soniya Tripathi on March 17, 2018 at 1:27 PM

    Big loss to Amritsar and India… May his noble soul rest in peace

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  2. Posted by Vee Kay Sharma on March 17, 2018 at 1:28 PM

    RIP renowned Ophthalmologist and Surgeon Dr Daljit Singh.
    He was a multifaceted personality who lived for others.
    The cause of humanity was very dear to him.
    He was a wonderful painter, thought provoking author, poet and above all a super human being .
    Your tribute to him is very rich in every respect, dear Rashmi

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  3. Posted by Jyoti Sandhu on March 17, 2018 at 1:29 PM

    I’m sorry to hear of Dr. Daljit Singh’s passing away. He was an institution in himself. Rashmi thank you for a very thoughtful and comprehensive tribute to the great personality.

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  4. Posted by Mamta Sen on March 17, 2018 at 1:30 PM

    Wonderful write up!

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  5. Posted by Javid Rufai on March 17, 2018 at 1:31 PM

    A great loss. Kashmiri eye patients will miss him a lot.

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  6. Posted by Ellora Puri on March 17, 2018 at 1:32 PM

    I’m learning about his passing here. Thanks for writing this, Rashmi. He made it a point to visit us when he was visiting his in-laws. I knew of him as a renowned doctor, but learnt in the last few years about his various other passions. Such a renaissance personality! Last I talked to him was when he insisted on face timing with me on one of his relative’s phone when he learnt I was with her at a get together last year. And he wanted to know what I was working on and how he could send his books over to me. Feels so sad that had to hear about it on FB. RIP.

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  7. Posted by Sangeeta Arora Seth on March 17, 2018 at 1:33 PM

    Thanks Rashmi for sharing this exclusive write up….came to know quite a bit about the multi faceted personality of Dr Sahib…i had an opportunity to meet him a couple of times…great human being with the simplest personna…long live his memories with us 🙏🏻🙏🏻

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  8. Posted by Sqn Ldr Anil Sehgal on March 17, 2018 at 1:34 PM

    A touching piece about a great and inspiring achiever.

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  9. Posted by Sanjay Kumar on March 17, 2018 at 1:34 PM

    He seems to be a man of multiple talents and excelling in each of them. God bless his noble soul !!!

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  10. Posted by Kamal Uppal on March 17, 2018 at 1:35 PM

    Very well written, Rashmi..

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  11. Posted by Kamal Uppal on March 17, 2018 at 1:35 PM

    Sharing.

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  12. Posted by Nilima Durani on March 17, 2018 at 1:36 PM

    RIP

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  13. Posted by Pushpinder Khinda on March 17, 2018 at 1:36 PM

    A heart touching tribute to a legend..

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  14. Posted by Ruby Bedi Bhopal on March 17, 2018 at 1:37 PM

    Inspiring figure for us all…beautiful tribute

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  15. Posted by Raminder Jit Singh on March 17, 2018 at 1:37 PM

    Beautiful tribute to a towering personality…. void left by Dr. Daljit Singh can’t be filled. May the noble soul #RIP

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  16. Posted by Mupinder Singh on March 17, 2018 at 1:38 PM

    Respect Regards to the noble soul ..

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  17. Posted by Kiranjot Kaur on March 17, 2018 at 1:38 PM

    Beautifully written Rashmi Talwar

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  18. Posted by Minisha Khanna on March 17, 2018 at 1:39 PM

    A standing ovation for sir which goes on and on and on……..

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  19. Posted by Ashwinder Ahluwalia on March 17, 2018 at 1:40 PM

    Really Rashmi you’ve put across everything about his glorious life so well… May his soul rest in peace and may God give his lovedones the courage to bear this great loss.

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  20. Posted by Anita Dangson on March 17, 2018 at 1:40 PM

    A big salute to this amazing man!!
    May his soul Rest In Peace!

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  21. Posted by Anju Seth on March 17, 2018 at 1:40 PM

    Beautiful write up Rashmi of a great human being. Thanks for sharing and letting us know more about him .

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  22. Posted by Punam Mehra on March 17, 2018 at 1:41 PM

    Indeed a great man he was! You have described him aptly Rush!

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  23. Posted by Chaman Lal on March 17, 2018 at 1:41 PM

    Very well written

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  24. Posted by Minni Singh on March 17, 2018 at 1:42 PM

    Super like Rashmi Talwar
    Indeed he was a legend
    A super person
    Well written 👌👌

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  25. Posted by Navjot Kaur Chabba on March 17, 2018 at 1:42 PM

    Really …rashmi tu accha likhdi hae……a real tribute by such a touchy write up

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  26. Posted by Nitasha Jaini on March 17, 2018 at 1:43 PM

    befitting tribute to a great man. RIP

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  27. Posted by Neeta Mohindra on March 17, 2018 at 1:43 PM

    Such a towering personality. A genius. Feel proud to have lived in his times. His family is continuing the tradition.
    Condolences to the family.
    Salute to Dr Daljit Singh ji

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  28. Posted by Bela Mahendru on March 17, 2018 at 1:44 PM

    May Dr Daljit Singh’s soul rest in peace! What an inspiring life-journey…. so well encapsulated by his son and Rashmi!

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  29. Posted by Ridhi Khanna Arora on March 17, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    Wow. Exemplary 👌🏻👍🏻👍🏻

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  30. Posted by Madhurie Agarwal on March 17, 2018 at 1:45 PM

    Wow . May his soul Rest In Peace 🙏

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  31. Posted by Prabhjit Bedi on March 17, 2018 at 1:46 PM

    An outstanding Doctor & a great human being 🙏

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  32. Posted by Vikram Ahuja on March 17, 2018 at 1:46 PM

    Big loss of loosing a very noble man. May his soul rest in peace 🙏
    Beautifully written Rashmi Talwar

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  33. Posted by Nitin Sekhri on March 17, 2018 at 1:47 PM

    One of the most respected and recognised figure of North and a gem of Amritsar tribute to Dr daljit Singh ji

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  34. Posted by Poonam Malhotra on March 17, 2018 at 1:48 PM

    Rashami beautifully written about the legend Dr. Daljit Singh ji who gave his contribution to make the city of Amritsar proud nd given recognition to it🌹🙏🏼

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  35. Posted by Sonali Kimmatkar Soni on March 17, 2018 at 1:48 PM

    So beautifully expressed

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  36. Posted by Geeta Mehta on March 17, 2018 at 1:49 PM

    Heartfelt condolences to the family….May his Soul rest in peace.

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  37. Posted by Avinash Singh on March 17, 2018 at 1:49 PM

    So very true! Naman!

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  38. Posted by Autar Mota on March 17, 2018 at 1:50 PM

    Very well written. A generation of patients from j&k especially jammu have had their surgeries at this Hospital. Professionaly very competent doctor and the hospital had reasonable fee. May the soul of the great doctor rest in peace.

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  39. You are right Rashmi Doctor sahib was a man above all of Amritsar nay Punjab men. What to talk of acedemics, even people from political arena don’t stand near Doctor. He was Superman not for his children alone he was pride of Punjabis. We felt his every breath was for the downtrodden. He was really a genius and innovative quite naturally.
    Rashmi you are a writer quite naturally.

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