NEW DELHI: Boobli George Verghese,one of the doyens of Indian journalism and a former editor of the Indian Express and Hindustan Times passed away on Tuesday, aged 87.
He leaves behind his wife Jamila and sons, Vijay and Rahul. The last rites will take place on Thursday.
A Magsaysay awardeee, BGV as he was popularly known,breathed his last at around 6pm. He had been diagnosed with dengue about a month ago and had been running a low fever.
In a condolence message, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said that in Verghese’s demise, “We have lost a fearless commentator and a prolific writer who made valuable contributions to the national debate on important issues of public interest and concern”.
Born in 1927 in Burma(present-day Myanmar), Verghese reportedly became a journalist by accident, joining Times of India as an Assistant Editor after completing his studies at Cambridge. A soft-spoken gentleman, he was a much respected figure in Indian journalism, known to be accessible and a mentor to several juniors. He has published a number of books, including a biography of media baron Ramnath Goenka called Warrior of the Fourth Estate. His other works include ‘Waters of Hope, India’s NorthEast and a memoir titled, ‘First Draft: Witness to Making of Modern India’.
He was Information Adviser to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from 1966 to 1969. But, he turned a trenchant critic of Indira during the Emergency and even contested as an independent candidate in Kerala, but lost.
He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Art in 1975. He was also part of the Editors Guild of India Fact Finding Mission after the Gujarat riots in 2002.
A crusader of civil rights in india’s dark days
Kochi: B G Verghese was a crusader of civil rights and author of many books that dealt with the problems of development. Known for his fearless political writing, Verghese lost his job as editor of The Hindustan Times (1969-75) for criticising Indira Gandhi during the dark days of Emergency. He was earlier information adviser to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1966-69 and wrote her speeches. He also served as editor of The Indian Express (1982-86). 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 Gandhi.