Jitubhai C Mehta
Jitubhai receving PSK award from Dr Ashokhai R. Mehta
Editor of the well-known weekly, Swarajya, published in Palanpur, Banaskantha, and leading social worker Jitendra Champaklal Mehta passed away in Palanpur on Friday, October 4, 2019. He edited Swarajya for over five decades!
Recipient of multiple awards for his journalistic and social endeavours, Jitubhai was the son of the Founding Editor of Swarajya, Champaklal M. Mehta, who started the weekly soon after independence to contribute towards the development of Banaskantha district.
Swarjya was launched after Independence, when Banaskataha district was among the more backward ones in Gujarat, with a paucity of schools in the rural areas and literacy rate of mere 1.4 per cent. Thanks to the early efforts by Champaklal Mehta, the government launched some initiatives for social and educational development.
However, due to the sudden demise of his father in 1964, the entire responsibility of continuing to run Swarajya and taking forward the initiatives he had begun, fell on the shoulders of his son Jitubhai.
Through his writings in Swarajya and related activities, Jitubhai, began to highlight, in a fearless but impartial manner, a number of different issues and challenges that confronted the district. He focused attention on the steps needed to usher in all-round progress for the people.
For example, in 1986, when almost all the villages in the district faced water shortage for nearly 10 months or more of the year, he took up the matter and soon after the government launched a project to supply water through pipelines across the district.
Similarly, in 1987, when the rural areas were hit by an acute drought, Jitubhai helped coordinate many major relief programmes. These included steps to distribute food grains and other items as widely as possible, to look after affected animals, particularly cattle, and ensure that medicines and other necessities reached those who needed them. In this campaign, his wife Padmaben also played a major role.
For many years, Jitubhai acted as the local representative in Banaskantha, for the Palanpur Samaj Kendra in Mumbai, helping to start and run cattle camps and many other activities and programmes.
His contribution as an Editor and social worker was widely acknowledged. In 1999-2000, Swarajya was named as one of the Top Weekly publications in the state by the Gujarat government.
He also received two Vocational Excellence awards, one each from Palanpur Rotary Club and from Deesa Rotary Club.
In 2004, the Palanpur Samaj Kendra honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a grand function in Mumbai.
Jitubhai is survived by his wife Padmaben.
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