Sitting in her wheelchair, Dr Sruti Mohapatra symbolises the cause that she is campaigning for. Fighting for the rights and dignity of the differently-abled in her own inimitable way, she has emerged as the perfect role model for the physically and mentally challenged in India. Sruti is the founder of Swabhiman. Her relentless service in the disability field in the last 25 years had made her a well-known figure around the country, especially for her contribution in socio-political-economic empowerment of people with disabilities in Odisha.
Sruti had a brilliant academic career. She was a topper and Gold medalist in both graduation and post-graduation. She was a National Debating Champion in 1980, 1981 and 1982. As an excellent player in Basketball she was a Member in the State Basketball Team from 1978 to 1983. She was the Literary Champion in Utkal University in 1984. She qualified in the Civil Services Examination in 1987. While getting ready to commence her career in public service in the Government of India, she met with a road accident which left her on the wheelchair (paralysed from neck below)for life. She lost her physical mobility, job and her marriage. Sruti, however, was bold enough to push behind the terrible trauma the road accident caused. And after completing her rehabilitation in Vellore earned both an M.Phil and Ph.D on her wheelchair.
She is the founder of SWABHIMAN, which works towards empowering persons with disabilities. Her relentless efforts has resulted in many notable changes.
Her exceptional ability for innovation has resulted in conceptualising and conducting many innovative programmes. She initiated a Project called ANJALI in the field of Education where the main objective is to create a joyful and inclusive platform for children with disabilities and those without. It has received many accolades in national and international forums. Another worthy initiative of hers has been the creation of Odisha State Disability network (OSDN). OSDN is a network of organizations and individuals in Orissa which promotes local advocacy groups and builds leadership in the disability sector; closely monitors and lobbies with the governments, corporate and other allied sectors to advocate the adoption and implementation of appropriate policies/legislations and builds a common cross-disability platform for sharing of concerns by disabled people from all the corners of the state.
Associated in various Committees and Forums, she has been liberally contributing to the enrichment of our society. Notable associations have been as (i) Chairperson of OSCPCR (Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights), (ii) Member – State Coordination Committee on Disability; (iii) Member ZRUCC (East Coast Railways); (iv) Co-opted Member in Regional Spinal Cord Injury Centre, Cuttack; (v) Member Ethics Committee; (vi) Doordarshan Advisory Committee, etc.
Her activities have been widely appreciated. Government and many organizations have honored her. In National Symposium in Developmental Biology 1992, she received the National Young Scientist Award; Of the 65 awards she has won the recent ones are: NALCO Smile award (2016); Rockstar Award Nina Foundation Mumbai (2015); Kadambini Samman (2014); Bhawan Samman (Social Service) – (Awarded by President of India) - 2013 ; Beasant Selfless Service Award – 2012 ; Subhadra Samman – 2012 ; Sarala Samman – 2011; Woman of the Year Award – 2011 State Bank of India (Orissa); CNN-IBN REAL HERO Award – 2010; Khyamata Samman – 2010 – State Award.
She had been spearheading research and surveys in many areas and also authored many books. An avid lover of nature, she loves to travel and loves writing. She is also actively associated with blood donation drives, care for the orphan children, cultivating reading habit among children and fighting against corruption and negativity.
Her motto in life is – To be happy, give joy to others.