- Khushwant Singh was born in Hadali, Khushab District, Punjab (which now lies in Pakistan), in a Sikh family. He was the younger son of Sir Sobha Singh and Veeran Bai.
- Births and deaths were not recorded in his time, and for him his father simply made up 2 February 1915 for his school enrolment at Modern School, New Delhi.
- But his grandmother Lakshmi Devi asserted that he was born in August, so he later set the date for himself as 15 August.
- Sobha Singh was a prominent builder in Lutyens’ Delhi.His uncle Sardar Ujjal Singh (1895–1983) was previously Governor of Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
- His birth name, given by his grandmother, was Khushal Singh (meaning “Prosperous Lion”). He was called by a pet name “Shalee”.
- At school his name earned him ridicule as other boys would mock at him with an expression, “Shalee Shoolie, Bagh dee Moolee” (meaning, “This shalee or shoolee is the radish of some garden.”) He chose Khushwant.
- He entered Delhi Modern School in 1920 and studied there till 1930. There he met his future wife, Kanwal Malik, one year his junior.
- He studied Intermediate of Arts at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi during 1930-1932.He pursued higher education at Government College, Lahore, in 1932, and got his BA in 1934 by a “third-class degree”.
- Then he went to King’s College London to study law, and obtained an LL.B. in 1938.
- Khushwant Singh started his professional career as a practising lawyer in 1939. He worked at Lahore Court for eight years.
- In 1947 he entered Indian Foreign Service for the newly independent India. He started as Information Officer of the Government of India in Toronto, Canada.
- He was Press Attaché and Public Officer for the Indian High Commission for four years in London and Ottawa. In 1951 he joined the All India Radio as a journalist. Between 1954 and 1956 he worked in Department of Mass Communication of the UNESCO at Paris.
- From 1956 he turned to editorial services. He founded and edited Yojana, an Indian government journal in 1951 -1953; The Illustrated Weekly of India, a newsweekly; and two major Indian newspapers, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times.
- From 1980 to 1986, Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan for service to his country. In 2007, the Indian government awarded Khushwant Singh the Padma Vibhushan.
- Singh died of natural causes on 20 March 2014 at his Delhi residence, at the age of 99. His death was mourned by many including the President, VicePresident and Prime Minister of India.