Eminent writer, journalist, and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s elder sister Gita Mehta passed away in Delhi on Saturday evening.

She was 80 and was ailing for quite some time. Gita is survived by his son Ajay Singh Mehta.

Gita, the daughter of prominent politician Biju Patnaik, was married to renowned American publisher late Sonny Mehta, who passed away in Manhattan in December 2019 at the age of 77.

Soon after the news of her death, Naveen Patnaik left for Delhi.

Born in 1943 to Biju and Gyan Patnaik in Delhi, Gita studied in India before moving to the University of Cambridge in the UK, where she met her future husband Sonny Mehta, who later went on to become president of the renowned publishing house Alfred A. Knopf.


In 1979, Gita wrote her first book ‘Karma Cola’, a collection of essays on Indian spirituality and the perception of the Western world about it.

In 1989, she wrote her first novel ‘Raj’ where she discussed India’s colorful history and culture against the backdrop of the Indian colonial past. ‘Snakes And Ladder’ written by Gita is among the most seminal work.

During the years 1970–1971, she was a television war correspondent for the US television network NBC and produced four documentaries.


Her film, a compilation of the Bangladesh revolution, Dateline Bangladesh, was shown in cinemas both in India and abroad. She also made films on elections in the former Indian princely states.

In January 2019, the government of India awarded her Padma Shri in the field of literature and education, which she declined saying it may be misconstrued due to the timing of the award as it had come just before the general election.


The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the demise of eminent author and Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik’s sister, Smt. Gita Mehta.

In a x post, the Prime Minister said;


“I am saddened by the passing away of noted writer Smt. Gita Mehta Ji. She was a multifaceted personality, known for her intellect and passion towards writing as well as film making. She was also passionate about nature and water conservation. My thoughts are with @Naveen_Odisha Ji and the entire family in this hour of grief. Om Shanti.”

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