For those born over the last two decades or so, it may not be easy to visualize that there were two different India prior to independence: one a British India and the other consisting of Princely States. The Princely States, many of them with despotic rulers entitled to 17/19 gun salutes, were mostly puppets in the hands of British rulers. Without them the British would n. have found it easy to win the first war of Indian Independence in 1857 and the subsequent two world wars.They also wielded significant powers, combining both judicial and executive authorities, something difficult to imagine in today's era of Lk Pal and judicial activism.
It was in 1920 when our hero, Sardar Nathu Lal entered the stage as the administrator- Nazim Sahib , Sangrur, the Capital of erstwhile Jind State in the neighborhood of Patiala and Nabha, one of the Phulkian States,later combined as Pepsu.
He was a very popular Collector and Sessions Judge during his time. Once, when one Mr. Kaul was the Prime Minister/ Diwan of the State, his detracors conspired to get him transferred to CharkhiDadri, now in Haryana. The camel was his only means of transport.But on popular demand he had to be recalled to Sangrur very soon to bring back normalcy. It was a sight to see the turbaned Nazim Sahib having a stately drive in the morning and evening through the main city streets on a horse driven carriage.
His father, Lala Atma Ram who was himself a revenue official, managed to get him married in a very notable family of Hoshiarpur which had been able to send their son to England for higher studies.
He built a palatial mansion adjoining the right side of Dhuri Gate - one of the four gates locking the city at night. He named it as Atam Dale, dedicated to his father, Lala Atma Ram.
The fore court of this building was purposely kept kacha mud floor to enable quick cooling with water sprinkling in hot summer. With cushioned reed stools spread round in a circle, he would hold meetings with his officials in the evenings.lf he went to the clubhe made it a point to shave again because he had to be the star of the show.He was given the privilege of one of the few telephones in the city. It had to be activated by turning a handle to call the exchange.But the demands of his exalted service could be heavy.
Once an ex-convict kidnapped his eldest son. With the intention of killing him he took the by to the lonely, unfrequented forest outside Dhuri Gate. The by had a providential escape because of his insistence to keep company with his cousin of the same age. Before the kidnapper could use his twelve inch dagger the boy's cries caught the attention of a bodyguard who happened to be passing close by The kidnapper was apprehended and convicted.
Consequent upon the conferment of the title Sardar by the rule, he christened both his sons accordingly. His eldest daughter was married to the son of famous Dr. Maleri of Nabha. Dr. Maleri had studied medicine in England for 10/11 years. Upon return he was appointed the personal physician to then Maharaja of Nabha.
His second daughter Smt. Surrendra Gupta-later a Padma Shree Awardee -was married to Lala Bansi Dhar Gupta a very well known family of old Delhi, Civil Lines.
His third daughter was married to a well known industrialist of Ludhiana-Siv Industries. Her father-in -law was a pioneer in bringing umbrella spokes making machinery from Japan and capturing a sizable share of the Indian market.
His eldest son was married in the Aminchand Payarelal family, now nationally renowned as Apeejay, of Jalandhar, whose scion rose to claim and obtain the life membership of the UK House of Lords.
He was an advocate and served as public prosecutor at Delhi. His younger son got settled in the USA.
He equally cared for his younger brothers.In the true spirit of Ram Rajaya when Ram was always accompanied by his step brother Lakshman, he helped his younger brother get educated as a medical doctor from Lahore in the 1940's. This doctor brother of his married a doctor and finally settled in Khar, Mumbai as a very popular child specialist. His clientele extended to Bollywood.
Perhaps only one of his desires remained unfulfilled-to learn to drive a motor vehicle.
Since the maharaja had gifted him a chauffeur driven car he could not focus his attention on honing his driving skills. He was always engrossed with his official duties.
After retirement he settled in Ludhiana along with his daughter-in-law who had by then made a name for herself in the education department. It is learnt that Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon, the then CM of the undivided Punjab was personally very appreciative of her work.
He expired in a freak accident in Delhi in 1968.