India’s first English news anchor on Doordarshan, Gitanjali Aiyar, passed away in Delhi on Wednesday, June 7. The popular anchor was in her mid-70s.
Working for three decades as a national broadcaster, she was one of the first English news anchors in the country. She joined Doordarshan in 1971 and received the Best Anchor award four times. She also established many records in the field of journalism.
According to family reports, Aiyar had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for years. She collapsed after she came home from an evening walk.
Aiyar graduated from Loreto College, Kolkata, after completing her bachelor’s degree in English. She also completed a diploma from the National School of Drama (NSD). Then she joined Doordarshan in 1971 and worked hard for three decades as a national broadcaster. She was awarded the Best Anchor award four times. In 1989, Aiyar received the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award for her excellent work.
Aiyar presented popular shows related to taking English song requests, "A Date With You – on Friday nights’ on All India Radio. She had also been a popular face in several print advertisements. She had acted in Sridhar Kshirsagar’s TV drama ‘Khandaan’ in 1985 on Doordarshan.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Aiyar was associated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the head of the major donors department. She also ventured into corporate communications, government liaison, and marketing after a decades-long career in the news industry. In 2001, she worked as the vice president of the public affairs department at Yash Birla Group. In 2005, she moved to the Oberoi Group as the director of international sales. She was also a consultant for the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). She was also the deputy head of the Press and Public Affairs wing of the British High Commission in Delhi for over three years.
Several noted personalities and many people are taking to Twitter to pay condolences to Aiyar. Also, many prominent journalists mourned her death.
Congress leader Netta D'Souza tweeted, "We fondly remember the days when Gitanjali Aiyar ji graced our TV screens, leaving an indelible mark on our news-watching experiences. Saddened by her untimely demise, I offer my heartfelt condolences to her loved ones. May she find eternal peace."
Journalist Sheela Bhatt tweeted, "Gitanjali Aiyar, India's one of the best TV newsreaders, a warm and elegant person, and a woman of immense substance, passed away today. Deepest condolences to her family."
The Hindu's Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar said, "Sad news indeed... For an icon, a role model, and a dear neighbour. Deepest condolences."