PASSINGS

Ramaswamy Venkataraman

Former legislator, president of India

Ramaswamy Venkataraman, 98, who was India's eighth president and helped draft the country's constitution, died Tuesday in New Delhi, after being admitted Jan. 12 to the Army Hospital, according to the state-run broadcaster Doordarshan. Venkataraman was admitted to the hospital with delirium and dehydration, and his condition progressively deteriorated, a government statement said.

Venkataraman served as president from 1987 to 1992 and before that was vice president. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly that wrote India's constitution, which was adopted in 1950, three years after India gained independence from Britain. He was also a member of the country's first Parliament and later served as defense and finance minister.

Venkataraman was born Dec. 4, 1910, in Rajamadam, a village in the southern state of Tamilnadu. He studied law and economics and began a legal practice. He was jailed for three years in the 1940s after taking part in demonstrations against British rule.

Nora Kovach

Hungarian ballerina defected to the West

Nora Kovach, 77, a Hungarian ballerina who along with her partner and then-husband Istvan Rabovsky, created a sensation when they defected to the West from the Soviet bloc in 1953, died Sunday in Miami. The cause of death was not announced.

In the days before the Berlin Wall, Kovach and Rabovsky were on tour in East Berlin in May 1953 when they learned that a subway to the west ran right below their hotel, the New York Times reported. They hopped a train and were granted asylum. They were quickly signed by the American impresario Sol Hurok and appeared with major companies in the United States, Europe, Latin American and Japan.

They made the headlines again in 1956, when they were rescued from the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria after it collided with another ship, the Stockholm, off Nantucket, Mass.

In the United States, the couple eventually started their own small dance troupe, Bihari. Their marriage ended in divorce.

Kovach grew up in Budapest and studied dance at the Budapest Opera Ballet's school. She later studied in the Soviet Union at the Kirov Ballet's school.

-- From Times staff and wire reports

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