Social activist and Padma Shri awardee Shanti Devi passed away last night at her residence in Gunupur in Odisha’s Rayagada district. Shanti Devi was a well known social worker in Odisha. She was born on 18 April 1934. The 88-year-old has dedicated her life to working for tribal women and children. She was among the six Padma Shri awardees who was conferred with the Padma Shri award last year.
According to family members, Shanti Devi complained of chest pain on Sunday night and fell unconscious at her ashram in Gunupur. She was then taken to the district hospital in Raigada, where doctors declared her brought dead.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over her demise, stating, “Shanti Devi Ji will be remembered as a voice of the poor and underprivileged. She worked selflessly to remove suffering and create a healthier as well as just society. Pained by her demise. My thoughts are with her family and countless admirers.”
Who Was Shanti Devi?
Shanti Devi was an Odisha-based Gandhian social worker who was serving in the Maoist hit area of Rayagada for the past 60 years. Her remarkable work is considered in the eradication of Yaws, a chronic bacterial infection.
She was conferred with India’s fourth-highest civilian honour Padma Shree on the 72nd Republic Day last year. Accepting the award, she said, “I am thankful to the government to have chosen me for this prestigious award. But, I feel the real award for any human is his or her work for the betterment of society. If one can bring about a positive change in the life of a less-fortunate person, there cannot be any bigger prize.”
Shanti Devi was also a former director of education who worked for propagating Odia culture. She was working with the tribal people of Odisha where she also established an ashram to treat those who were suffering from various diseases.
Inspired by Vinobha Bhave, in 1965, she also established a voluntary body called Seva Samaj that worked for providing education and rehabilitation for the orphans. The children in this ashram were also given vocational training. She established a branch of Seva Samaj in Rayagada and used to manage three orphanages dedicated to girls.