Nirmal Singh

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Nirmal Singh was born in the Year 1931 in the City of Amritsar. In 1946, he joined F.C. College, Lahore. However due to the Partition of India & Pakistan in 1947, like many Sikhs, Nirmal had to move to Delhi. In Delhi he joined Delhi University for Bachelors in Sciences and later Osmania University for Bachelors in Engineering. Subsequently he acquired graduate qualifications in Management and Technology. Soon-after his Engineering degree, Nirmal joined the Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Indian Army. While serving in the Army, in 1958 he was responsible for an extensive study on equipment reliability. His study was broadly accepted by the General Staff of the armed forces. Then he was selected for a faculty position at the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering. There he introduced teaching of Management and Industrial Engineering in the years 1960-1961. After his Technical Staff College Course (M Tech) he was drafted to assist the newly created Department of Defense Supplies set up in the aftermath of '65 operations for promoting indigenous production of military hardware. A massive undertaking that has paid off after its long gestation was a great learning experience and many of the approaches he then developed have stood the test of time and laid the foundation for creating the infrastructure for manufacture of defense hardware in the private sector. Later he led a Technology Mission to the UK for design evaluation, quality assurance and management of the contract for a series of value engineered Light Armored Vehicles by Vickers, GKN and Rolls Royce as principal suppliers. On his return from the U.K., he was selected to head Planning & Evaluation division in the Department of Defense Production where he was involved with major policy formulation processes; planning of projects; performance evaluation of Defense Production programs; budgets; systemic changes and so on. In 1978 Nirmal decided to take early retirement from the Department of Defense and join Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad. He was Professor, Chair - Operations Management and Dean for all the consultancy work of the College. At this position, he had instrumental role in the effort of launching development programs for the Cabinet Ministers and Secretaries in the Rajiv Gandhi Administration. Besides being a highly sought after consultant, his work on Management Consultancy was greatly regarded. The Planning Commission adopted one of his papers as a working document for a Group created in 1986 to promote development of management consultancy in the country. He was also considered a National Resource person for research in consultancy development. Then in 1988, Nirmal with his wife and three daughters moved to the United States. He started out as a management consultant traveling Monday through Friday. It was a hard life in a new environment and he had to learn a lot about American business practices, regulatory requirements and work culture very quickly to succeed as a consultant. Soon, his work started receiving attention and appreciation. He soon was invited to join a company which was in severe problems at that time: of declining business, poor cash flow, difficulty in making payroll, heavy debt burden, union at war with the management etal. However, with Nirmal's strategic management, hard work and motivating leadership, the company turned around in a few years. The success brought several offers for acquisition of the business, which eventually accomplished, Nirmal Singh decided to retire. Since then he has devoted himself almost exclusively to issues confronting and the needs of his own community. He got involved with inter faith activity and has been working on sharing information about Sikh faith, its history, culture and values with the larger American Community. He has offered seminars on Sikhs and Sikhism at Hartford Seminary, at retreats for inter faith ministers, for the Connecticut Council for Inter-religious Understanding and others. He has made presentations on Sikh perspectives at several inter faith conferences e.g. Eco Justice Network; Wisdom House; Imam Hussain Day; Global Dharma Conference; Farmington Forum for Religions and others. He was invited to Pakistan, earlier this year, along with a group of well known Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars from the US and UK to participate in conference (s) on faith perspectives on global issues of peace and justice. He was invited to present a paper on the vision of the Sikh Gurus and Syed Nursi on the virtue of "contentment" in a conference convened by Istanbul Foundation for Science & Culture at Istanbul, Turkey in Early October. He was also asked to address the inaugural session and was accorded photographic coverage on the front page of leading Turkish newspapers. He served the Connecticut Sikh Association as Chair, Nomination Committee and then President and it was in his time that the sangat (Sikh Congregation) came together to buy a new building and set up the Gurdwara at Southington, CT. He organized the first Sikh cultural program, named 'sawan rut aaeyi' in Connecticut. Since then he has succeeded in opening the window on Sikh culture to the mainstream and in the current year Sikh youth were invited to participate in several cultural events organized and attended mainly by the mainstream. At the invitation of Hindu University of America he accepted to offer a course on Sikhism for their Graduate and Doctoral programs. The course will be offered through distance education mode initially and is likely to be announced later this year. He was also invited by Educators Society for Heritage of India to a conference at Rutgers University in Sep where he presented his findings on the problems relating to the treatment of Sikhs and Sikhism in North American school and college education. He hopes to continue to generate awareness and catalyze activism to get the related issues given consideration. He was one of the first Sikhs to be on TV after the events of September, the 11th, to clarify mistaken Sikh identity problem. He called Fox news as soon as he saw the arrest of a Sikh in Rhode Island, in their nightly news on September, the 12th. The next morning the crew came to his home, covered his interview and the evening news opened with the image of him reciting a passage from the Sikh Scriptures - Guru Granth Sahib at his home. He made several other appearances on NBC, CBS and PBS in addition to interviews on Connecticut Public Radio and Connecticut Radio Network. He invited the Senate President and the State Governor to the Gurdwara on Sep 20 and 21 respectively, which was very reassuring for the community. He was honored with Indus Stars Award - 2004 earlier this year. This award is given to "luminaries in the New England's South Asian community who shine at what they do," His citation says "through activism and writing, he is helping, in his way, to tip the scale of religious tolerance toward healing, inclusion and understanding. His book "Exploring Sikh Spirituality & the Paradox of their Stereotyping in Contemporary American Setting" (co published with Sanbun, Delhi) has gone into reprint thrice since its initial publication in March 2003.


Nirmal Singh and his wife live in Farmington, Connecticut.