Gita Mehta, eminent author, journalist, and Odisha CM’s elder sister, breathed her last

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  • Gita Mehta, renowned writer-filmmaker passed away on Saturday in New Delhi. Mehta, who died at 80, was the sister of Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and daughter of Biju Patnaik. 
  • Gita Mehta will be remembered for her coverage of Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war for NBC and her acclaimed documentary “Dateline Bangladesh”. 
  • Born in 1943 to Biju Patnaik and Gyan Patnaik in Delhi, she pursued her higher studies in India as well as at the prestigious Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. 
  • Gita Mehta was the elder sister of Naveen Patnaik and businessman Prem Patnaik. 
  •  Her publisher husband Sonny Mehta had predeceased her. 
  • She has penned books including ‘Karma Cola’, ‘Snake and Ladders’, ‘A River Sutra’, ‘Raj’ and ‘The Eternal Ganesha’. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled her death.

Renowned author, filmmaker, and journalist Gita Mehta passed away at the age of 80 in New Delhi. She was the elder sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Gita, the daughter of prominent politician Biju Patnaik, was married to renowned American publisher late Sonny Mehta, who passed away in Manhattan in December 2019 at the age of 77. Gita was ailing for quite some time. Several ministers and eminent personalities expressed their grief over Mehta’s demise.

Gita, the daughter of prominent politician Biju Patnaik, was married to renowned American publisher late Sonny Mehta, who passed away in Manhattan in December 2019 at the age of 77. Soon after the news of her death, Naveen Patnaik left for Delhi.

Mehta, sources said, was very close to her younger brother Naveen Patnaik. During her earlier visit to Bhubaneswar, she had told reporters that “people of Odisha are fortunate enough to have a CM like Naveen Patnaik”.

Born in 1943 to Biju and Gyan Patnaik in Delhi, Gita studied in India before moving to the University of Cambridge in the UK, where she met her future husband Sonny Mehta, who later went on to become president of the renowned publishing house Alfred A. Knopf.

In 1979, Gita wrote her first book ‘Karma Cola’, a collection of essays on Indian spirituality and the perception of the Western world about it. In 1989, she wrote her first novel ‘Raj’ where she discussed India’s colorful history and culture against the backdrop of the Indian colonial past. ‘Snakes And Ladder’ written by Gita is among the most seminal work. During the years 1970–1971, she was a television war correspondent for the US television network NBC and produced four documentaries.

Her film, a compilation of the Bangladesh revolution, Dateline Bangladesh, was shown in cinemas both in India and abroad. She also made films on elections in the former Indian princely states.

In January 2019, the government of India awarded her Padma Shri in the field of literature and education, which she declined saying it may be misconstrued due to the timing of the award as it had come just before the general election.

(With inputs from agencies)

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