Mrs Manorama Mohapatra, Eminent Author, Columnist, Public Speaker, Editor and Social Worker was born in 1934. She spent her young childhood years in the throes of the Freedom Movement as her father the renowned Dr Radhanath Rath was an eminent Freedom Fighter and highly regarded social worker besides being the longest-serving Editor of the Oriya Daily Samaja. Hence her entry into the fields of literature, journalism and social work was in a way natural but what made her so eminent was her innate and intrinsic abilities.
An outstanding public speaker, she dominated the space of public speaking for more than 60 years. Her immense knowledge, wide range and tremendous unbelievable memory power made her a magnet which draws people to her. She inspires love among people and awe among peers.
Though her formal education was in the field of Economics and she worked in the Dept of Economics in the famous Ravenshaw College, now University, her real contribution came in the fields of literature and Social Work. She has published more than 40 titles, some of which have been translated into other Indian languages and have been a recipient of many important awards and recognitions. Both her prose and poetry were profound and reflected the society of the time, but always was a clarion call for change. She inspired many generations of women, children and social workers. Her first book was Juar Jeiunthi Uthe, a revolutionary collection of poems on Women emancipation and empowerment was published in 1960. Her first book on stories was Band Gharara Kabat, again on the theme of women empowerment. Ardhanareeswara, Baidehi Visarjita, Sanghatir Samhita, Shakti Rupena Sansthita, Roopam Roopam Pratirupam, Smruti Chandan, Samay Purusha, Smritir Naimisharanya, 151 Poems, Arup Aalo in Bengali, Ye Prithvi Sarsajjya, Uttara Niruttara are some of her better-known titles which have influenced generations.
Highly feted, she won her first award in 1957 for short stories on Women Empowerment and social change. Her first prominent literary award was in 1967, the Jhankar Award. Sahitya Academy Award in 1984, Soviet Nehru Award in 1988, Critic Circle of India Award in 1990, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar Samman in 1991, Rupambara Award in 1994, Utkal Sahitya Samaj Award, Gangadhar Meher Samman, Sahitya Praveena Award, Sarala Award, Sucharita Award, Kadimbini Award, were among the numerous awards and felicitation she received during her illustrious career. She was also awarded the Ravenshaw Gaurav Awards both by the school and its more famous University. She a was a renowned Commentator on Jagannath Culture and was honoured several times for her lucid commentary on the famous Car Festival of Puri.
In recognition of her immense contribution to the field of literature she was appointed as Secretary of Utkal Sahitya Samaj from 82 to 90 and as President of Orissa Sahitya Academy in 1991, the first woman to hold this post, till 1994.
Her tremendous contributions to the field of Literature was honoured by the Rama Devi University which conferred the Honorary D.Lit Award on her in 2019.
Though she inherited the mantle of Editorship of “The Samaja”, the Odia Daily from Dr Radhanath Rath in 1998, she had started contributing as a columnist much before that. As the author of Jhitipiti Kahe Satakshi, she provided analytical and critical analysis of contemporary issues to the general public. Sumati Bhamati was based on Puranic stories and Aieenka Katha was addressed to the children section. They undoubtedly were some of the most popular columns to be published during this time. Despite her prolific writing and demanding work as an Editor, she kept herself busy with strings of social work, her first passion. She was the founder of Lok Sevak Yuva Mandal which worked in the fields of education and relief distribution. She was a founder member of Ramadevi Trust, Kasturba Trust, Daya Ashram, Sahaya, and Orissa Nari Seva Sangha. She worked as the Vice President/Member of Red Cross Society, Scouts and Guides Society, Social Service Guild of Orissa, Lok Sevak Mandal and several other organisations. Till her last breathe, she was always at the forefront of social work. No wonder her work has been recognised not only in Orissa but also by organisations based in Chandigarh, Bhopal, Calcutta and abroad.
Smt. Manorama Mohapatra left us on 18th September 2021 at S.C.B Medical College, Cuttack.