These are some of many Odia women who have made it big in the face of insurmountable odds.
Sruti is a tireless crusader for the disabled, always at the forefront to secure a rightful place for the physically challenged in society. All this and more—from a wheelchair.
She’s the founder member of SHARE (Shared Entertainment and Recreation) a local organisation that stages street plays, organizes treks, fashion shows and other activities for the disabled. One of the more successful efforts in which she was involved was ‘Samara’, a fashion show in Chennai, where 30 physically challenged persons including Sruti shared the ramp with the likes of Aishwarya Rai and Devika Menon. Convenor of the Women’s Cell of Disabled People’s International (WCDPI), an organisation that spans 152 countries, Sruti and her group have done more for sensitising attitudes towards the disabled in the state than the government or any NGO.
What makes her special is the ability to reach out to the less fortunate, something for which she derives the strength from the personal battle she’s been waging for over a decade now.
Kalpana Dash, a mountaineer from the Sariapara village in Dhenkanal district of Odisha, now resides at Kumbhar Sahi, Dhenkanal Town, successfully climbed the 8,848-meter the highest peak of World Mount Everest. A team of 5 climbers from Canada- US and Nepal was climb the peak in the leadership of Miss Kalpana Dash. She reached the peak at 11.30 AM on 21st May 2008.
Kalpana, had made her first attempt to climb the world’s highest mountain peak on 2004, but had not been successful. Her second attempt in 2006 had also ended in failure due to hostile weather conditions.
Parbati Ghosh is the epitome of Odia Cinema. She is a tough, dedicated and highly-creative filmmaker of the State. When Aparna Sen was making 36 Chowringhee Lane, Parbati Ghosh had already won three national awards in the best Oriya film category and was” an established name in Eastern India film scenario. In fact long before Sai Paranjpe, Kalpana Lajml and Aparna Sen, Parbati Ghosh had started her own film concern, acted and produced her own films, establishing herself as a pioneer woman director in the country.
Ghosh, born on March 28. 1933, made her debut as a child artist in, Sri Jagannath in 1950. In 1953, she came to mainstream Oriya filmdom as an actress essaying the lead role opposite Gour Ghosh in Amari Gaan Jhua followed by Bhiai Bhai (1956), Maa (1959). Laxmi (1962). Kaa (1965), Stree (1968) and Sansara (1971). Laxmi, Kaa and Stree won national awards as a best regional category.
Parbati made her debut as a director in Chha mana aatha guntha (1986). It was a good rendering of the famous novel of the same name by Fakir Mohan Senapati but faced a lot of criticism from film critics. But her films on various social themes with , sensitive treatment and brilliant narrative touched the hearts of the masses. Moreover, her films were deeply rooted in the socio-cultural ethos of the then Oriya society. Her last film as a producer-director is Salabega (1998) which she gave to the Films Division.
Sanjukta Panigrahi was a dancer of India, who was the foremost exponent of Indian classical dance Odissi. Sanjukta was the first Oriya girl to embrace this ancient classical dance at an early age and ensure its grand revival.
In recognition of her contribution to dancing and associated activities, she was honoured with one of India’s highest civilian awards the, Padma Shri (1975). She is also recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1976.
Apart from presenting Odissi performances in different parts of India, Sanjukta Panigrahi has been a part of Government’s cultural delegation to different countries, including to the USA and the Philippines (1969), United Kingdom (1983), Israel, Delphi International Festival in Greece (1989). She has also performed in France for eleven weeks, and participated there in the International Music Festival at Paris.
Tulasi Munda is a noted social activist who has done a lot of work to spread literacy among the tribal people and released hundreds of tribal children from a future as exploited daily labourers by setting up a school in mining area.
She has triggered a silent revolution in Serendra – a village about 30 km from the mines city of Joda in Orissa and its vicinity. The mission started by her in 1964 has borne fruit. The village once under the grip of illiteracy and poverty now boasts of a model school which has served as a catalyst for the over-all development of the area.
What makes Padma Shri Tulasi Munda’s achievement in this sphere all the more extraordinary is that she herself had never gone to a school in childhood. But it did not prevent her from dreaming to sow the seed of education in the village which would someday grow into a huge tree to provide shades of relief to the ill-fated populace of the area that suffered from abject negligence and underdevelopment.
Today Tulasi commands an iconic recognition not only in the area that she once chose to be the beneficiary of her social mission but also in the entire state of Orissa. Her dedication to the cause has aptly been recognized by the Govt. of India which conferred the prestigious Padma Shri award on her in the year 2001.