Jeevaraj Alva was a trained physician from St. John's Medical College. In college he became a student leader during the JP movement and this led him to decide against practicing as a doctor. He was one of the close associate of Ramakrishna Hegde.
Alva was born into a middle-class family which hailed from the coastal Canara region of Karnataka and belonged to the Bunt caste. His father, Nagappa Alva, was also a politician and he once headed the state unit of the Congress party.
Alva married the classical dancer Nandini Alva (nee Seth), a north Indian lady who was fourteen years younger than him. They are the parents of a son, Aditya (b. 1989), and a daughter, Priyanka (b. 1983). On 29 October 2010, Priyanka was married to the Hindi film actor Vivek Oberoi. The marriage was in fact arranged by the parents of the bride and groom, in the traditional Indian way, and one reason was the commonality that both Vivek and Priyanka had one north Indian and one south Indian parent each. The couple have a son, Vivaan (born 6 February 2013) and a daughter, Ameyaa (born 21 April 2015).
Alva died on 12 Feb 2001 at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore, after suffering from pneumonia for several weeks. He was 53 years old, and was survived by his wife and two young children, aged 12 and 18.
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