Mr. Rishi Kumar Mishra (1932-2009) is the soul and spirit of the Observer Research Foundation. He was a veteran journalist, thinker, author and a public figure. Mr. Mishra was known for his original ideas, deep insights on a variety of issues, especially those impacting India, and a holistic approach towards life and research. Evidence of his all-encompassing vision is visible in the mark that he has left in areas as varied as politics, economy, corporate affairs, policy making, diplomacy and spirituality.
Born on September 28, 1932, he began his career as a journalist in Kolkata and worked with Vishwamitra, India’s first newspaper to be published simultaneously from Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur and Patna. He also worked with Navbharat Times and Lokamanya, leading Hindi dailies of those times. He rose rapidly in the profession, and at the age of 27 became the editor of Lokamanya. He was the first Indian to become the editor of a daily newspaper at such a young age. He later on moved to Delhi to work with Patriot – an English daily – where he later became the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of the group’s publications – Patriot and Link magazine. In the sixties and seventies, these publications made an indelible impact on the country’s political life and wielded profound influence on decision-makers. After 30 long years of association with this group, Mr. Mishra left Patriot to head the Observer Group of Publications as its Chairman and Editor-in-Chief in early 1990.
As a member of the Indian Parliament (Upper House) from 1974 to 1980, Mr Mishra had worked closely with late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and accompanied her on several important foreign tours. He was a Member of National Integration Council of Government of India and was instrumental in resolving several contentious issues. Former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao had invited him to assist in several important political projects. During the tenure of Mr. A B Vajpayee as Prime Minister, he had been involved in several sensitive assignments. Newspapers in India and Pakistan had extensively reported his role in back-channel diplomacy between these two countries. Mr. Mishra had been to China a number of times since 1981. He last visited China with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988.
Mr. Mishra had traveled widely, as a public figure and as a journalist. The countries he had visited included France, Greece, United Kingdom, United States of America, Germany, Russia, Egypt, Algeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Vietnam, Kampuchea, Lebanon, Pakistan, Italy, Switzerland, Cuba, Portugal, Poland, Thailand, and China. During these visits, he had interacted with leading public figures in all spheres of life.
A social activist and political adviser, Mr. Mishra had authored numerous articles and papers, and had edited several publications on economic, political, cultural and social issues. Of late he had been working on ancient Indian philosophy, the Vedas and the Upanishads. The works released more recently included Before the Beginning and After the End: Rediscovering Ancient Insights, The Cosmic Matrix: In the Light of the Vedas, The Realm of Supraphysics – Mind, Matter, Energy and The Ultimate Dialogue.
Mr. Mishra conceived and founded the Observer Research Foundation as a culmination of his life-long desire to give India its due place in the global hierarchy. His philosophy of an inter-disciplinary approach towards issues of policy importance is the sole reason why policy alternatives are readily available today to decision-makers at all levels. As Founder-Chairman of ORF, Mr. Mishra had taken it upon himself to unearth new and young talent. He kept pushing every single researcher to look at issues in a holistic manner. Today, ORF owes it every success to the indefatigable energy and spirit of Mr. Mishra and will always be guided by his sense of vision and commitment. Mr. Mishra passed away on January 9, 2009 in Bangalore.