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 has made her a well-known figure around the state and the country.
A brilliant students, national debater, member State Basketball Team till 1983, literary champion of Utkal University (1984), she had qualified in the Civil Services Examination in 1987 when she met with a road accident in 1987 that left her on the wheelchair (paralysed from neck below)f or life. She lost her physical mobility, job and her marriage. Sruti, however, was bold enough to push behind the terrible trauma behind, 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 have resulted in many notable changes like proper enumeration in census, ramp culture in Odisha, setting up of the office of Disability commissioner, a minister being given charge of disabilities and finally an independent department of disabilities in Odisha. She has been in the forefront of many policy changes in both national and state level. Her exceptional ability for innovation has resulted in conceptualizing 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.
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: Rockstar Award Nina Foundation Mumbai (2015); Vidya Bhawan Social Service Award – (awarded by President of India) – 2013 ; Beasant Selfless Service Award – 2012 ; Subhadra Samman – 2012 ; Sarala Samman – 2011; Woman of the Year Award – 2011; CNN-IBN Real Hero Award – 2010; Khyamata Samman – 2010 – State Award.
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.