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Harnam Singh

(1851 – 1930) – (Punjab)

Raja Sir Harnam Singh Ahluwalia (Aged 78) was born on November 15, 1851, as a member of the Kapurthala royal family, in the direct line founded by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. He left Kapurthala in 1878 after the premature death of his elder brother led to a struggle for the succession to the Kapurthala throne. Under the influence of his English Tutor Rev. Woodside and aided by a Bengali Missionary Golaknath Chatterji, Harnam Singh converted to Christianity, thus renouncing his rights for good.

He was the first president of the All India Conference of Indian Christians, which played an important role in the Indian independence movement, advocating for self-rule and opposing the partition of India.

He was also a member of the Kapurthala Council of State and one of the founder trustees of the Tribune Newspaper. He was also one of the patrons of the New India Insurance Company, founded in 1906 in Calcutta under the Swaraj movement, which was later nationalized to become India’s fourth-largest Insurance Company National Insurance Company.

Raja Harnam Singh held many dignities in his life. He was a member of the Legislative Council for the Punjab from 1900 to 1902, a Member of the Kapurthala Council of State, and an honorary Fellow of Panjab University. In 1902, he and his wife were in London to attend the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as representatives of the Christian community in India. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in 1885 and knighted as a Knight Commander of the order (KCIE) in 1898. In 1907, Harnam Singh was given the personal title of Raja (roughly equivalent to the modern British life peerage), and he was made a hereditary Raja in 1911, thus enabling him to found a separate branch of the Ahluwalia dynasty. He was given the administration of his Awadh properties for his lifetime, a move which was objected to by Jagatjit Singh but in vain.

Harnam Singh passed away by 20 May 1930 and was succeeded in his title by his eldest son, Raghubir Singh, who himself died two years later without issue, whereupon the title devolved upon his second surviving son, Raja Maharaj Singh. The line of Maharaj Singh maintains the title to this day.