Television

Architect of autonomy for AIR DD breathes his last

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NEW DELHI: Veteran journalist BG Verghese, who in 1975 won the Ramon Magsaysay award for outstanding journalism, died on 30 December, aged 87.



Verghese, a former editor of the Hindustan Times, passed away at 6 p.m. at his son's residence, a family member said. The former information advisor to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi leaves behind wife Jamila and sons Vijay and Rahul.



Verghese headed the group set up by the then Information and Broadcasting Minister L K Advani during the Janata Party rule in 1977 to work on an autonomous All India Radio and Doordarshan. The Verghese Committee recommended setting up Akash Bharati as an autonomous trust,



Born on 21 June 1927, he was a veteran journalist. He was editor of the leading papers The Hindustan Times (1969–75) and The Indian Express (1982–86).In 1975, he received the Ramon Magsaysay award for outstanding contribution to journalism. Since 1986, he has been associated with the New Delhi think-tank Centre for Policy Research.



Verghese attended The Doon School. He then studied Economics at St. Stephen's College, Delhi and pursued a Master's degree from Trinity College, Cambridge. While at Doon, Verghese edited The Doon School Weekly.



Verghese started his journalistic career in The Times of India. He was information adviser to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1966-69 and wrote her speeches. Subsequently, he joined as editor, Hindustan Times, but he lost his post for criticising Indira Gandhi during the dark years of the Emergency. His integrity in those years earned him immense respect and he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award that year. Immediately afterwards, he contested Lok Sabha elections in 1977 from Mavelikkara in Kerala but lost.



A crusader for civil rights, Verghese has long worked on problems of development. He was also on the Editors Guild of India Fact Finding Mission after the Gujarat riots, 2002.



He has written extensively on developmental issues. Waters of hope (1990) and 'Winning the future (1994) discuss managing the Himalayan watershed. Design for tomorrow (1965), India's North East resurgent and Reorienting India: Rage, reconciliation and security (2008) are other books with a progressive theme. He is also the author of Warrior of the Fourth Estate (2005), an acclaimed biography of Ramnath Goenka, owner of the Indian Express. In October 2010, he published his autobiography First Draft: Witness to Making of Modern India, which discusses the steady degradation of democratic processes during the tenures of Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv.

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