Colonel Garcha captained the Indian Polo Team on several occasions back in the day and was awarded the coveted Arjuna Award, India’s highest accolade for outstanding sportsmen. Colonel Garcha has also played and represented India internationally from the 70’s to the 90’s. He has won the ‘Indian Open National Championship’ (20 goals) for a record of 13 times – the oldest and most coveted prize in Indian Polo – a trophy that’s over 100 years old! He has travelled extensively and played in almost 25 countries across the world.
Modern day polo credits India as the birthplace for the sport as it was in Manipur, India, that the sport was introduced to the Western civilization in the 19th century. Today, Indian polo has evolved much since the times of Babar, the founder of the Mughal royalty, in the 15th century, who popularized the sport.…Read More...
Polo in India
The origin of ancient polo is debatable, with several countries including Persia and China, laying claim to this aristocratic game of prowess and skilled horsemanship. Known by several local names in different countries – Chaughan (Persian), Da-Kyu (Japanese), Khis-Kouhou (Russian), Djerid (Turkish), and Sagol Kangjei (Indian). However, the origin of the modern name of ‘polo’…Read More...
Colonel Kuldeep Singh Garcha
President, Jaipur Polo Club
President, Aashita Foundation
Birth & Native: Maajara, Sanehwal, Ludhiana
Residence: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Headline: Galloping to zenith!
Some people win life the hard way, choosing to learn and grow on their own. Living his life by his rules is Colonel (Retd.) Kuldeep Singh Garcha, spiritual, thankful and down-to-earth, yet practical, up-front and raring. In love with life, he "has an aura about himself," though it is a bit mystical. How does a man, friends with the who's who from across the world, keep himself grounded!
Reaping the laurels of my parents
Col. Kuldeep Singh Garcha was born to late Sardarni Dalip Kaur and late Major Jaswant Singh in 1945, three years after his elder sister, Amarjit Kaur. Brought up to be spiritual, disciplined and cultured, he did part of his schooling at a boarding school in Ludhiana, wherefrom he ran away twice. Later, while in Lawrence School, Sanawar, Shimla, ill-health forced him to stay with his family thereon, thus travelling across India as per his father's postings, a quality he still lives by. The Major lost his father when he was only two, rendering him a very independent, strong and striving man, qualities that Kuldeep inherited from him.
Small incidences teach you to keep going-on
After schooling, he joined a medical school in Delhi, where he got involved with college union leader and was soon published on the front-story cover picture in Hindustan Times, the leading national daily, having participated in a local protest. Thus, his father forced him to withdraw from college within a year to join National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, graduating out of which he joined India Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, before being commissioned in the 61st Cavalry Jaipur in 1966.
I began a new era... for myself, of learning
While at NDA, the young Garcha longed to play Polo with cadets. On being asked to join, he jumped at the idea and without any prior training performed better than them.
And thus started his love story with Polo...
Starting to play for India in 1970, the sport took him to various places across the globe; however, when India was seen as an underdeveloped and poor nation, a turbaned, bearded and a dark-skinned Indian playing a game of the elites garnered a lot of attention and recognition. A stoic, honest, straight-forward Garcha, with spiritual attributes, attracted friendly relationships with several royal families, presidents, prime ministers, film stars, business dignitaries and political leaders alike, also having played alongside Prince Charles during 1975-1980.
The 1987 Arjuna Awardee was leading IMA Polo team as the equitation officer from 1977 to 1979, when they participated in 14 major international tournaments, reading the finals of 12, raising the trophies in 10.
I did whatever I felt like; I just did it from my heart
Adrenaline rushed in the young man when he saw and decided to buy Chevrolet Impala, though was scolded and denied by his father. The very next day, a newspaper said that the government will hand-over the diplomat-owned cars to ex-army officers to be run as taxis. Stealthily, he applied and registered National Tours, in his father's name. Surprisingly, the same car was allotted to them around two months later. Keen to learn and grow his business, taking small steps forward, he soon owned a fleet of around 20 imported cars. Though excited for the successful business, he still decided to bring it to a close in 1981 when his father breathed his last, thus losing beatific support.
Zest and enthusiasm are contagiously good
Our Poseidon, the 5-goal handicap, keeps himself busy with his pet project, Jaipur Polo Club, which offers a game not just on horses, but camels and elephants too. Established in 2000, with Late HH Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur being the chief patron, the clubs aims to revive, promote and give something back to the sport. Today, it boasts of Polo ponies from abroad and some of the most handsome thoroughbreds in India too. The establishing of the club did demand a lot of blood and sweat, however, with the zealous ambition that he had, nothing could stop him as he kept galloping ahead.
Eager to promote Polo, Garcha, along with his son, Satinder, also runs teams in Argentina, Singapore and England.
To err, learn and move-on is human
Garcha could have retired to enjoy the luxuries of life in 1997 after spending 32 years Retiring as commandant of 61st Cavalry, he ardently set-up a few business ventures, before he, along with his younger son Harinder, spearheaded People Prime Worldwide, an HR recruiting firm, based out of Hyderabad. Besides, he's also heading Ring MD, a telemedicine platform, as its director in India.
Give hope to those who don't have it.
A very positive person at heart, Garcha wants others to stay positive too. Following the same, in 2011 he, along with his wife, founded Jaipur-based NGO, Aashita, which gives a holistic development to a few specially-abled girls; from self-defence, to horse-riding, to facilitating the deserving ones to international universities too.
Promoting women empowerment, Garcha organises 'battle of sexes' tournament, against the pretty and dramatics backdrop of his Polo club.
They take you forward
The lively couple, Mrs. Inderjit Brar and Kuldeep got married in 1968, being blessed with three children. The endeavour is enthusiastically supported and participated in by his wife too. Daughter Harmanjit Kaur, the eldest, born in 1969, is married and settled in Singapore. Elder son Satinder, born in 1971, following his father's footsteps did schooling from Lawrence School, Sanawar, studied computer science at the University of Texas, and liberal arts at Lawrence University, USA. He is now residing in Singapore with his family, taking care of Garcha Group of Hotels and Elevation Company. Harinder also studied in Lawrence School, Sanawar, heading to Carleton College, USA, for a bachelor's in Economics (economics), and is now settled in Hyderabad, as the Director of People Prime Worldwide.
5 ways to be successful
Be passionate: Do anything you want, do it wholeheartedly. Make mistakes, learn and move on.
Humbleness: Respect success, but don't let it get to your head.
Move up: But never pull anyone down.
Love: Maintain your relationships, be available to people you love. Be helpful to anyone who needs it.
Compete: But don't compare.
When opportunity knocks softly, it's common sense to take it.
Message to the youth
Do whatever you like to do, do it with all your heart, with lot of hard and smart. work. Also, I see there's a new wave of women liberalisation across India, youth shout slogans, we make movies, but we forget respecting them at home, which the youth need to take care.
What's the best way to learn?
I am a dreamer, without any ambition. I dream to reach somewhere, I don't aim for it. Even if I reach it nearby, I don't feel let down; I am rather at peace that I am close to what I wanted out myself!
Keep no regrets. What good or bad happens today, happens for a larger good later.