Eminent litterateur from Odisha, Manoj Das is considered one of India’s foremost bi-lingual authors today. For his contribution to literature, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2001 and the Sahitya Akademi Award Fellowship, the highest literary award in the country, in 2006.
Dr Damayanti Beshra
One of the most prominent Santali writers, Dr Damayanti Beshra is the first female writer in the language to author and publish an anthology of poems ‘Jiwi Jharna’ in 1994. She was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award for her extraordinary anthology ‘Say Sehed in 2010 and since 2011, she has been publishing the first Santali women’s magazine ‘Karam Dar’. So far, she has authored over 11 books in Santali language and five in Odia
An eminent literary figure, Binapani Mohanty carved a niche for herself in the field of Odia fiction writing. Her literary career as astory-teller began with publication of ‘Gotie Ratira Kahani’ in 1960. Some of her best stories are ‘Pata Dei’, ‘Khela Ghara,’Naiku Rasta’, ‘Bastraharana’, Andhakarara’, ‘Kasturi Murga O Sabuja Aranya’ and ‘Michhi Michhika’. It was ‘Pata Dei’ that won the Sahitya Akademi Award for Mohanty in 1990.
A rare filmmaker, Manmohan Mahapatra was the hrabinger of realistic cinema in Odisha. Known as the ‘Father of new wave Odia cinema’, Mahapatra has 12 films to his credit including one in Hindi ‘Bits and Pieces’ which mostly portrayed socially relevant stories dealing with working class and poor, feudal structure, orthodox society and corruption. His debut film, ‘Seeta Rati’ was the first Odia film to be selected for the prestigious ‘Indian Panorama’ section of the International Film Festival of India, New Delhi. He is the only Odia filmmaker to have won eight consecutive National Film award
Shashadhar Acharya represents the fifth generation in the family of traditional Chhau performers who have significantly contributed in the evolution and development of the dance form. A master of Seraikela Chhau, Acharya has a number of awards and recognitions to his credit. He has been awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2004 for his sustained and innovative work in Seraikela Chhau. He continues to promote Chhau dance in the rural parts of Jharkhand and Odisha.
Utsav Charan Das
Utsav Charan Das has been tirelessly working to keep the centuries-old Ghoda Nacha folk dance form alive. Not only has he been training several young artistes in the dance form, Das has even introduced innovations in Ghoda Nacha to suit the urban audience while keeping all its traditional elements intact. For his contribution to the art form, Das has been awarded the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi.
Mitrabhanu Gountia Lyricist of the famed Sambalpuri song ‘Rangabati’, Mitrabhanu Gountia has composed over 1000 Sambalpuri songs. Apart from songs, he has written several lyrical plays including ‘Bhai Juntia’, ‘Krushna Avatar’, ‘Mahisa Nasini’,’Gambhiribije’, ‘Khaiunjula’, ‘Kelikadamb’, ‘Rangakeli’ and ‘Gujuna’.
Radhamohan and Sabarmatee
Former State Information Commissioner, Prof Radhamohan initiated several grassroot-level efforts to establish colleges, schools and NGOs for development in the State. His NGO Sambhav works for sustainable development, agriculture and gender justice. Daughter Sabarmatee has been practising organic farming since 1989. She has preserved over 450 varieties of paddy seeds in Odisha. She trains farmers in organic farming.
A progressive farmer of Sarakana village in Khurda’s Balianta block, Batakrushna Sahoo has been instrumental in introducing hundreds of farmers to pisciculture. Without any financial help from the Government, he has trained farmers in spawn production through traditional breeding plans. His hatcheries in Sarakana produce 20 crore spawns annually.
Dr Digambar Behera
A pioneer of lung cancer chemotherapy, Dr Digambar Behera is a senior professor at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. A native of Cuttack, he is now the chairman of National Taskforce of National TB Elimination program and also the chairman of some divisions of ICMR’s Indian TB Research Consortium.
Prof Prasanta Kumar Pattanaik
Prof Prasanta Pattanaik of University of California is a pioneer of the alternative methods of measuring social and cultural deprivation. Along with Amartya Sen and Kenneth Arrow, Pattanaik is an advisory editor for Social Choice and Welfare.