Veteran journalist R.K. Mishra dead

January 10th, 2009 - 8:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) Veteran journalist and chairman of Observer Research Foundation (ORF) R.K. Mishra, who played a key role in Track-II diplomacy between India and Pakistan, has died in Bangalore after a prolonged illness. He was 76.Mishra, who worked closely with a succession of prime ministers across the spectrum, is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. He died Friday night.

He was cremated here Saturday. Vice President Hamid Ansari, Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader A.B. Bardhan, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh and industrialist Mukesh Ambani and his wife Neeta were among those who gathered at the Lodhi Road crematorium for the last rites.

Known for his extensive contacts, Mishra was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1974 to 1980 and worked closely with former prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Born on Sep 28, 1932, Mishra began his career as a journalist in Kolkata and worked with a number of Hindi dailies like Vishwamitra, Navbharat Times and Lokamaya before moving to Delhi to join the English daily Patriot. He became editor-in-chief and managing editor of the newspaper and its sister magazine, Link. In 1990, he was instrumental in starting the now defunct Business and Political Observer.

His expertise and knowledge of national and international affairs was widely in demand. He was a Member of National Integration Council and assisted former prime ministers P. V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in several important political projects.

In diplomatic circles, Mishra is remembered for his important role in Track-II diplomacy - an exercise aimed at continuing a high-level dialogue between India and Pakistan on sensitive issues like Kashmir. His considerable abilities as a troubleshooter and mediator came into the limelight when he was sent on a secret mission to meet the then prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif to explore ways of ending the 1999 Kargil conflict.

Mishra, the author of numerous books and research papers, brought his formidable scholarship and experience in public affairs to the ORF, a think tank started with financial assistance from the late Dhirubhai Ambani.

He became chairman of the ORF and shepherded its emergence as an influential platform for debate and dialogue on seminal public policy and diplomatic issues. Former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, for army chief Gen. (retd.) V.P. Malik, former foreign secretary M.K. Rasgotra, Prof. S.D. Muni and former head of the Research & Analysis Wing, Vikram Sood and scores of former diplomats are associated with the think tank.

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