Gandhian journalist Nachiketa Desai passes away at 72
Reporter, editor, translator and scholar Nachiketa Desai breathed his last on Sunday morning at Ahmedabad. In his last years he preferred to be known as an activist
Nachiketa Desai, former Consulting Editor with National Herald and Gandhian activist, passed away on Sunday morning at his Akhbar Nagar residence on February 5. He was 72.
A multilingual journalist and author, Desai was grandson of Mahadev Desai, Mahatma Gandhi’s personal secretary and son of Narayan Desai, who was also a Gandhian scholar and much-respected journalist. Mahadev Desai had passed away in jail after being arrested with Gandhi Ji during the Quit India Movement. An anthology of his unpublished work edited by grandson Nachiketa Desai was launched at Sabarmati Ashram last month.
Nachiketa Desai started his career in journalism with The Indian Express in 1978 and went on to work with Himmat Weekly, UNI, The Telegraph, The Independent, ETV NewsTime, India Abroad New Service and Dainik Bhaskar among others in various capacities over a career spanning over 40 years.
His contemporaries and friends remember him as a genial and forthright person who as a reporter wrote several incisive investigative reports and human-interest stories from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
According to family members, Desai was not keeping well and his health started deteriorating in the past two years due to several ailments.
But despite poor health and other challenges, Desai was working with irrepressible spirit. ‘Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi’s Frontline Reporter’, a book that he edited last year was released by the Sabarmati Ashram and Preservation Trust in January 2023.
Moulded in Gandhian ideals, Desai never fought shy of raising voice against state repression. He sat on a fast against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) outside Sabarmati Ashram in December 2019 and was forcibly evicted by the police. He was the solitary person offering a silent fast but he was first asked to leave the Ashram and he shifted outside, was forcibly removed.
When the Gujarat government went ahead with its proposal to redevelop the Sabarmati Ashram, he was at the forefront of the protests.