Ravish Tiwari, Express chief of national bureau, passes away

Ravish Tiwari, National Political Editor and Chief of National Bureau of The Indian Express, whose work blended scholarship with journalistic rigour to explain change in politics and society, died Saturday morning. He had been suffering from cancer since June 2020. He was 40 and is survived by his wife, his parents and a brother.

Tiwari led a team of senior journalists at The Indian Express who covered the Union Government, including state and national elections, the Prime Minister’s Office, strategic affairs, diplomacy and infrastructure. Leading from the front as a reporter and an editor, he had travelled and reported from extensively across the country on rural affairs, agriculture, politics and, most recently, the UP election campaign.

“Ravish’s was a rare, unique voice in our profession. Never once seeking the comfort of an echo chamber, he listened to all because he knew that was the best way and the only way to keep a finger on the nation’s political pulse and explain it to our readers and audiences ,” said Chairman of the Express Group Viveck Goenka. “We deeply mourn his loss. As a reporter and an editor, he led from the front. Ravish will live in his work which will be an enduring inspiration for the newsroom and beyond.”

Tiwari had a flair for connecting with people, to speak to a very wide spectrum, manage a conversation with the country’s political leadership across party lines. Irreverent towards power, Tiwari also wore his own brightness lightly.

He studied at the government’s Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya before he went to the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, where he got his B.Tech. His passion for questions that go to the heart of politics and society made him switch to social sciences. He went to Oxford University in 2005-06 as one of the six Rhodes Scholars to study Social Justice in Secondary Education in India. At IIT Bombay, he was one of the key team members behind Techfest, an annual gathering of minds on technology and policy.

A testament to his remarkable range of work came from the tributes Saturday morning, many from the subjects he had reported on. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Destiny has taken away Ravish Tiwari too soon. A bright career in the media world comes to an end. I would enjoy reading his reports and would also periodically interact with him. He was insightful and humble. Condolences to his family and many friends. Om Shanti.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, offering his condolences on Twitter, said, “Shocked and pained to learn about the untimely demise of, Ravish Tiwari. He was a young, bright and professional journalist, full of life.”

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted saying that Tiwari was “amongst the finest, scholarly & objective journalists. He’d been critical of me as (Environment) Minister, but we were closest of friends. Just 4 days ago we had a long chat. Extremely saddened by his untimely demise.”

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called him a “gifted journalist” and tweeted that his “untimely demise is a big loss to the world of journalism in India.”

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said that Tiwari was a “scholar with a sharp mind and had deep insights into the socio-political events of our times. As a journalist he was a thorough professional; his writings and opinion will be missed.”

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal said that Tiwari’s “untimely death” “is extremely saddening. My deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues from the newsroom.”

His party colleague Atishi Marlena, a fellow Rhodes scholar with him, called Tiwari one of her closest friends. “While the world has lost a sharp and insightful journalist, I have lost my dearest and most loyal friend,” Marlena Ttweeted.

“Deeply mourn the sad demise of one of the leading journalist of India,” said former Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. “He was a good friend and outstanding intellectual who had an equally amazing career as an IITian but chose journalism because of his interest and commitment.” Tiwari, he said on Twitter, “had a profound understanding of the polity of the country and also its dynamics. He wrote without fear or favour. This was not the age for you to leave us Ravish Ji. Really a cruel hand of destiny.”

Besides The Indian Express, where he spent a total of around 12 years as a political journalist, Tiwari had also worked with India Today and The Economic Times during his career.

It was soon after the first lockdown in the pandemic that Tiwari was detected with a very advanced stage of cancer. He fought hard for nearly two years, continuing to produce some of the sharpest political commentary and reporting along the way. But he lost the battle in the early hours of Saturday, at a hospital in Gurgaon.

“In the newsroom, each one of us has lost Ravish and one way to remember him is by keeping a little of Ravish alive in us, in the way he asked the hardest questions with respect and humility, both of his subjects and of ourselves,” said Raj Kamal Jha, Chief Editor, The Indian Express. “Since that June morning in 2020 when he told me about the cancer diagnosis — his WhatsApp that night was “fluctuating fever, should be ok in a day or two” — I became more aware of how much a privilege it was to work with him. His shoes cannot be filled but they shall sit in a very special corner of the newsroom for ever.”

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