Nikhil Chakravarty, a top Indian political columnist, dead at 74

Nikhil Chakravarty, one of India's best known journalists, has died. He was 74.

Chakravarty was suffering from brain cancer and died in hospital on Saturday, his family said.

Politics was his forte and his columns appeared in leading Indian newspapers and magazines.

Chakravarty also started a weekly news magazine, ``Mainstream,'' in 1962 and edited it for more than three decades.

Last year, the government appointed him chief of Prasar Bharati, an autonomous corporation set up to end government control of radio and television.

Chakravarty declined a top government award in 1990, saying no journalist should be identified with the governing establishment.

He graduated from Calcutta University and studied at Oxford University's Merton College in England.

Chakravarty taught history at Calcutta University in the 1930s before taking to journalism as correspondent of a weekly brought out by the Communist Party of India.

He later joined the CPI and remained a member until 1978.

He closed the Mainstream weekly for a while when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed emergency rule in India 1975-77, jailing political opponents and imposing censorship on newspapers and magazines.

Chakravarty was born November 3, 1913, in India's northeastern state of Assam.