Kishwar Desai

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Kishwar Desai, Baroness Desai
Kishwar Rosha

(1956-12-01) 1 December 1956 (age 62)
Alma materLady Shri Ram College
Spouse(s)Lord Desai

Kishwar Desai (née Rosha) (born 1 December 1956) is an Indian author and columnist. She is also the Chair of The Arts And Cultural Heritage Trust (TAACHT) which has just set up the world's first Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar, Punjab, India. This is a not-for-profit Trust, an NGO, that has created the Museum through donations from people—Partition survivors and their families, as well as corporates and donors. The Museum is only five minutes away from the Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh. The building was recently completed and inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh on Partition Remembrance Day, 17 August 2017.

She is also a Trustee with the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, in which she helped to set up the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Westminster Square in London. While the government allotted the space, the charity, chaired by Lord Meghnad Desai, had to raise the money for it. The statue was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister David Cameron and the Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley, in 2015. Later in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his respects at the Gandhi Statue on his visit to the UK, accompanied by the members of the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust and Prime Minister Cameron.

As a novelist, her last novel The Sea of Innocence was published in 2014 in India as well as in UK and Australia, and was widely discussed ss it dealt with the difficult issue of gang rape . Her first novel, Witness the Night,[1] won the Costa Book Award[2] in 2010 for Best First Novel and has been translated into over 25 languages. It was also shortlisted for the Author's Club First Novel Award and longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. Her critically acclaimed novel, Origins of Love,[3][4][5] was published in June 2012. Desai also has a biography, Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt,[6] to her credit.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Kishwar Rosha on 1 December 1956 in Ambala, Punjab (now Haryana) to Padam and Rajini Rosha, she grew up in Chandigarh, where her father was the head of Punjab Police, and graduated from Lady Shri Ram College in 1977, in Economics (Hons).


She started her career as a print journalist and worked as a political reporter with the Indian Express moving on to television and broadcast media after a while, where she worked for over two decades. She worked as anchor, TV producer and head of a TV channel with some of the major Indian television networks. She was also the Vice President at Zee Telefilms (Zee TV). She anchored Doordarshan's morning show, Good Morning Today, after which she took over as the CEO of Tara Punjabi TV channel, a part of Broadcast Worldwide, which was established by former STAR TV head, Rathikant Basu. Thereafter Desai moved to Zee and NDTV, where she worked as a producer.

Kishwar Desai has written four books. She currently writes columns for The Week magazine, The Asian Age and The Tribune newspapers.

Literary career[edit]

Desai’s last novel The Sea of Innocence was the third in the series, featuring the feisty Indian middle-aged social worker-cum-crime investigator, Simran Singh.

Her award-winning novel Witness the Night, which was the first in the Simran Singh series, dealt with female foeticide. In a small town in the heart of India, a young girl, barely alive, is found in a sprawling house where thirteen people lie dead. Simran is now her only hope as she is charged with the murder of those dead. The judges of the Costa Award (Anita Rani, Anneka Rice and Mark Thornton)[7] said “Kishwar Desai pulls off a remarkable trick, transplanting a country-house murder to modern-day India in a book that's not afraid to tackle serious themes.” Witness the Night was also shortlisted for the Author’s Club First Novel Award and longlisted for the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize.

In Origins of Love, Desai took a close look at surrogacy and adoption. Simran Singh is asked to examine the case of an abandoned baby at an IVF clinic and what follows is a maze of new age fertility rites, and surrogacy. The book received critical acclaim in UK, Australia and India. In her latest novel, The Sea of Innocence, Simran Singh is trying to find a British girl Liza Kay who has gone missing from the beaches of Goa. It was published in India, UK and Australia and received rave reviews. The Sea of Innocence had a reflection of the Delhi gang-rape case in December 2013 in Delhi.

Desai's novels have been translated into many different languages, including Chinese, Spanish, French , etc.

Prior to writing fiction, Desai wrote a probing yet affectionate biography of Nargis and Sunil Dutt, two iconic Indian film stars, in Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt. The book based on interviews with the Dutt family and friends, explored their lives in detail and tells the larger story of the evolution of Hindi cinema, and of a society and a nation in the throes of change. Desai has also written a play, Manto!, based on the life of the famous Urdu writer, Saadat Hasan Manto, which won the TAG Omega Award[8] for Best Play in 1999. Desai is now working on taking the Partition Museum forward and on a new book on Indian cinema.

Personal life[edit]

After her first marriage, she changed her name to Kishwar Ahluwalia[9] and has a son, Gaurav and a daughter, Malika from the marriage. On 20 July 2004, after a divorce, she married[10][11] economist Meghnad Desai,[12] a member of the British House of Lords. She lives between London, Delhi and Goa.


  • The Sea of Innocence. Simon &Schuster Limited, 2013. ISBN 9781471101427
  • Origins of Love. Simon & Schuster Limited, 2013. ISBN 9781471111228
  • Witness the Night, 2009 ; Simon & Schuster UK, 2012. ISBN 9781471101526
  • Darlingji: The True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt. HarperCollins India, 2007. ISBN 9788172236977


  1. ^ "No Girlhoods". Outlook India. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  2. ^ "Two books on India in UK literary award shortlist". The Times of India. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-28.[1]
  3. ^ "No Girlhoods". Outlook India. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  4. ^ "Origins of Love". The Independent. 15 July 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-28
  5. ^ "Origins of Love". ABC Radio National. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  6. ^ "The Queen and the Commoner". India Today. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  7. ^ "Costa Books Awards 2010". The Telegraph. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  8. ^ "Sponsors beg off, it's curtains for theatre". The Indian Express. 11 June 1999.
  9. ^ "People: Kishwar Ahluwalia Profile". Business Today. 22 June 2000.
  10. ^ "Made for Each other". The Tribune. 8 August 2009.
  11. ^ "Lord Meghnad weds his lady love". The Times of India. 20 July 2004.
  12. ^ "Desai unravels economics of Pound: Khushwant Singh". The Tribune. 13 May 2006.

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