Gita Mehta, eminent author and elder sister of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, died in Delhi on Saturday due to age-related ailments, PTI reported. She was 80.
The daughter of legendary leader Biju Patnaik was also a documentary filmmaker and journalist. She worked as a war correspondent for US television network NBC during 1970-’71 and covered the creation of Bangladesh.
Mehta authored five books: Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East, Snakes and Ladders, A River Sutra, Raj and The Eternal Ganesha. She was married to Sonny Mehta, former head of publishing house Alfred A Knopf, who died in 2019.
She was conferred India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri, by the Bharatiya Janata Party government in January 2019 for her contribution in the field of literature and education, but she had declined the award. The writer had said the timing may be misconstrued in an election year.
On Saturday, political leaders across party lines mourned her death.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Mehta had a “multifaceted personality” and was passionate about nature and water conservation. “My thoughts are with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik ji and the entire family in this hour of grief,” he wrote on X.
Writer William Dalrymple said Mehta was full of spark, humour and warmth. “I met her first when I was writing City of Djinns and was dazzled by her irreverent wit, but also by her kindness, and indeed patience...” the author wrote.
Several others on social media also paid tributes to Mehta.