She does not need an introduction. Around 30 years ago, Dr Sruti Mohapatra, a wheelchair-bound was barred from becoming an IAS officer. Now, a ‘rejected’ Sruti Mohapatra has become a crusader for the differently-abled persons not only in Odisha but also in the country.
When she was 22-year-old she had qualified for the Indian Civil Services Group A (Allied Service) in first attempt and was about to get married to the boy whom she had chosen. As her aim was to become an IAS officer, she appeared the examination again and unfortunately few days to her interview her life changed forever on April 14, 1987.
She met with an accident in Bhubaneswar where a speeding bus hit her car leaving her severely injured. The accident damaged her spinal cord and the lower part of her was paralysed. And she became quadriplegic. Since then she is on wheelchair. But despite being confined to the wheelchair, she did not allow her spirit to be chained.
And her struggles begin….
As her dream remained unfulfilled, the 55-year-old social activist engaged herself in different activities, particularly for the welfare and protection of disabled people.
And it was due to her relentless struggle that the Puri’s Jagannath Temple opened its gates for the people on wheelchair to have the divine darhsan of the sibling deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.
After the accident, her prior focus remains on the development of disabled people.
She is the founder and the chief executive of Swabhiman, a Bhubaneswar-based non-profit organisation, which has been working for the empowerment of people with disabilities in Odisha since 2001. Swabhiman is also organising Anjali, annual festival, which was initially started for children with disabilities, has now expanded to include students from several schools and colleges.
Born on September 29, 1963, she had a brilliant academic career. She holds a PhD degree in Developmental Biology and was the topper and Gold Medalist in MSc. 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.
Since 1987 till 1996 she taught civil service aspirants in training programmes sponsored by the Government of India and Government of Odisha. Thereafter, till 2007, as the Director of Odisha IAS Study Circle, a career counseling and tutorial centre for students, she successfully trained more than 300 students who now occupy various positions in government, banks, research institutes, universities and other services (Indian Civil services, Indian Forest services, Indian Economics Services, Odisha Civil Services etc).