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Author: Vaibhav Goyal, IV year of BA.LLB(H) from University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University (SSGRC, Hsp.), Chandigarh

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

—Arnold Schwarzenegger

Hardik Singh Malik originally went to the United Kingdom in 1908 when he was 14 years of age at Balliol College, Oxford University, and later turned into a member of the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. As the first Indian pilot with a turban and an exceptional protective cap, he got renowned as the "Flying Sikh". Hardit Singh Malik additionally played cricket for Sussex and was likewise India's diplomat to France after a long and recognized profession in the Indian Public Service. In any case, it was during 1917–19 as a military pilot that he turned out to be exceptionally popular.

In an extraordinary unfamiliar field, Indians, for example, Ranjitsinhji and the senior Nawab of Pataudi had set themselves up as capable cricketers inside the English club and district framework, sometime before India had its group. Similarly, youthful Indian pilots like Hardit Singh Malik, S.C. Welinkar, Errol Sen, Indra Lal Roy, and a couple of others, made the possible foundation of India's own Air Force somewhat surer, the defeating of establishment’s complaints somewhat simpler, by substantiating themselves as decent and surprisingly recognized pilots inside the British military avionics foundation.

Altogether, a million and a half Indians served during the Great War. What's more, among them, neat in their RFC outfits, was a little number of Indians who served in the flying corps, moving with each appearance of exhilaration into the wood-and-material biplanes of the time, enveloped with downy fixed cowhide coats and caps with scarves flying, and lifting off over Belgium and France in Sopwith Camels.

Hardit Singh Malik, the first Indian military pilot, was at Oxford when the conflict started. Like the majority of his schoolmates, he chipped in for military assistance, yet was at first dismissed as he was an Indian. He served for a period with the French Ambulance Corps and was about to start joining their Air Corps when his Oxford coach, a previous British Army official, intervened with Lieutenant-General Sir David Henderson, GOC of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), to get his RFC bonus.

Malik was chosen for scouts (as contenders were then called), and presented on 28 Squadron of the RFC, flying Sopwith Camels, the most famous British aeroplane of the conflict. Camels were quick and flexible, yet viewed as hard for everything except the best pilots to fly. This, truth be told, was like how the notorious HAL-constructed Gnat warrior was considered in the post-Independence Indian Air Force of the 1960s.

Malik went right into it in September 1917, at first in France and afterwards from Droglandt in Belgium. His Flight Commander was the Canadian Captain William 'Billy' Barker. Barker finished the War with a VC, two DSOs, and three MCs, the most profoundly enhanced serviceman in the Commonwealth.

"As a symbol of unbelievable World War I, legend Hardit Singh Malik, the world's first Royal Flying Corps (presently the Royal Air Force) Sikh, the turbaned military pilot will be significant for the more extensive Sikh commitments in the British military of World War I and II, with Malik's unprecedented achievements as a "standard' for the entire Sikh people group and other of its lesser-known saints," takes note of the One Community Hampshire and Dorset (OCHD) association behind the mission for the remembrance, which was affirmed by the Southampton City Council a year ago.

Malik trained at the No.1 Armament School from April 1917 and was named a Flying Officer in No. 26 Squadron on 13 July 1917. As a perceptive Sikh, he wore a turban rather than a protective cap, and later wore an extraordinarily planned flying cap that fitted over his turban. Because of his surprising protective cap, he was nicknamed the "Flying Hobgoblin".

In May 1918 (with impact from 1 April 1918), Malik was elevated to the meaningful position of lieutenant. In the mid-year of 1918, he was stationed in France with No. 11 Squadron RAF, first stationed at Bapaume, at that point at Nivelles. Malik was stationed at Aulnoye-Aymeries when the Armistice was endorsed on 11 November. By the conflict's end, Malik had been credited with two airborne triumphs, however, he affirmed six triumphs, which made him a flying pro and the solitary another Indian flying pro of the First World War other than Indra Lal Roy.

Of the four Indians who flew with the RFC and RAF during the First World War, Malik was one of two who endured: the other was Erroll Chunder Sen, who had been a German POW during 1917–18. Thus, Malik chose to join the Indian Civil Service. He got back to England to pass the assessments in 1921, joining the service in January 1922 as an Assistant Commissioner in Sheikhupura District. He was elevated to DeputyCommissioner(administering) in April 1926 and to Deputy Commissioner (provisional) in November 1927.

In the last part of the 1920s, when the Indian Sandhurst Committee was set up to choose Indians to turn into the first Indian officials in the proposed Indian Air Power, Malik was one of just two enduring Indians who had seen battle with the RAF during the First World War. Showing up before the board of trustees, he assumed a critical part in its choice to send six Indian official cadets to England for pilot preparation in 1930. Those men - among whom was the future IAF Chief of the Air Staff Subroto Mukherjee - would, in 1932, become the principal Indian officials in the Indian Air Force.

Malik got back to London as a Deputy Trade Commissioner from 1930 to May 1934, momentarily filling in as the acting Trade Commissioner from May–September 1932. furthermore, was then Trade Commissioner in Hamburg from 1933. In June 1934, Malik was named a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Indian Commerce and went through the following four years in India before his posting as Trade Commissioner to Canada and the United States in July 1938. He served in New York, Washington, and Ottawa from 1938 until 1943.

Malik was designated an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in January 1938 and was named a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in June 1941. In April 1944, Malik was appointed as the Prime Minister (dewan) of the incredible salute realm of Patiala, under Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, serving until Indian autonomy in 1947 and the disintegration of the Indian Civil Service.

In 1949, he joined the new Indian Foreign Service and was selected as the first Indian High Commissioner to Canada. He at that point filled in as the Indian Ambassador to France, during the time frame when France decolonized its Indian belongings in French India, including Pondicherry. He was likewise head of the Indian assignment when the United Nations General Assembly was held in Paris. In April 1956, he was brightened as a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor by the President of France, René Coty.

Malik resigned in 1957 and moved to Delhi. In January 1975, he was elevated to the privileged position of Group Captain in the Indian Air Force. He kept on having a functioning existence until the age of 88. After an extensive stretch of ailment, Malik passed on in Delhi on 31 October 1985, three weeks before his 91st birthday.

His biography, A Little Work, A Little Play, was distributed after death in 2011. The sensational and interesting self-portrayal of an incredible military pilot and a significant figure of Indian history whom Khushwant Singh depicted as the 'most recognized Sikh of his time'.


Hardit Singh Malik, A Little Work, a Little Play: The Autobiography of H.S. Malik, Bookwise (India),

K.S. Nair, The British were so impressed by Indian WWI aviators that they gave India its own Air Force, The Print, September 27, 2019

Sikh fighter pilot memorial in the UK to honour Indians who fought in World Wars, The Indian Express, March 7, 2021

Malik Made Honorary Group Captain, Press Information Bureau of India, January 30, 1975

Sardar H.S. Malik, 90; Former Indian Official, The New York Times, November 6, 1985

Manimugdha S Sharma, Indians who lorded over European skies in WWI, The Times of India, October 8, 2014


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