Year-ender 2023: Eminent personalities from Odisha, whom we lost this year

Starting from eminent English poet from Odisha Jayanta Mahapatra to pioneering cardiologist and renowned artist Dr. JP Das, the sad demises have left deep voids. The luminaries will always be remembered for their significant contributions to the State.


Hussain Rabi Gandhi

Renowned writer Hussain Rabi Gandhi died while undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) in Cuttack City on January 28. He was 75.

The former president of Odisha Sahitya Akademi wrote in the Odia language and was conferred with the Secular India Harmony Award by former President Giani Zail Singh in 1993 and the Gangadhar Meher Kabita Award in 2015 for his contributions to the field of Odia poetry.

Inspired by Biju Patnaik, he joined the Janata Dal in 1988 and was the general secretary of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on its formation in 1998. He continued to hold the post till 2005. He was one of the founding members of the party.

Hussain was an established writer, who contributed immensely to Odia literature.


Naba Kishore Das

A former ASI of police identified as Gopal Das allegedly opened fire at Health Minister Naba Kishore Das at Gandhi Chhak in Brajrajnagar of Jharsuguda district, on January 29.

The firing took place when the minister alighted from a car to attend a programme and his supporters were garlanding him. He sustained bullet injuries on his chest leading to the fatal mishap.

The senior BJD leader was rushed to the district headquarters hospital (DHH). He was later airlifted to a private hospital in Bhubaneswar for treatment where he succumbed.


Pintu Nanda

Popular Odia actor Pintu Nanda breathed his last while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Hyderabad on March 1. Nanda was suffering from cirrhosis and doctors had advised him to undergo a liver transplant. He was 45.

Nanda started his acting career in the Odia film industry in 1996. He became a household name in Odisha with his performances in films, music albums, and TV serials. He proved his versatility and carved a niche for himself with comedy performances and villain roles.

He acted in over 70 movies including ‘Wrong Number’, ‘Bahudibe Mo Jaga Balia’, ‘Prema Rutu Asilare’, ‘Dosti’, ‘Hatha Dhari Chalutha’, ‘Rumku Jhumana’, and ‘Katha Deli Matha Chhuin’.


Dr. Prafulla Jena

Renowned scientist and Padma Shri awardee Dr. Prafulla Kumar Jena died on March 7. He was 92.

Dr Jena encouraged and inspired scientific research, especially in metallurgy. Through his research works, he pioneered new waste management processes and metal value recovery processes from industrial and mining wastes. He was instrumental in popularising science among students.

The noted researcher had played a key role in the establishment of several institutions of science and technology in Odisha. He was the former chairman of the Institute of Advance Technology & Environmental Studies and the former president of the Natural Resources Development Foundation.


Trilochan Kanungo

Former Jagatsinghpur MP Trilochan Kanungo passed away on April 21 while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar. He was 82. The veteran leader was admitted to the healthcare facility on March 30 following illness.

Kanungo was elected to the Lok Sabha from Jagatsinghpur in 1999. He was also elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly thrice.

Born on November 24, 1940, at Badamalei village in Cuttack district, Kanungo had been residing in Sheikh Bazaar area of Cuttack city for the last few years. Kanungo started his political career in student life and was president of the erstwhile Ravenshaw College and Utkal University in the 1960s.


Jayanta Mahapatra

Eminent litterateur, legendary poet and Padma Shri awardee Jayanta Mahapatra breathed his last on August 27. The poet died at the age of 95 while undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) in Cuttack, after suffering from pneumonia.

Mahapatra was born on 22nd October 1928. He is the first poet to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for English poetry. He authored notable poems such as ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Hunger’, which are regarded as classics in modern Indian English literature.

The litterateur was awarded Padma Shri in 2009. He penned around 27 books on poems, of which seven are in Odia and the rest in English.


Surjya Narayan Patro

Former Odisha Legislative Assembly Speaker and senior BJD leader Surjya Narayan Patro breathed his last on September 2 at a private hospital. He was 74.

Patro was elected as a legislator from Mohana Assembly constituency four times and Digapahandi three times. He was elected to the Assembly for the first time in 1990. He served as a Minister and held several portfolios. He resigned as Speaker earlier this year on health grounds.

Born on December 24, 1948, in Berhampur of Ganjam district, Patro joined electoral politics in 1977.


Dr. Rajkishore Das

Noted medicine specialist Professor Dr. Rajkishore Das passed away on September 11 at his residence in Tulasipur locality of Cuttack City. He was 87.

Apart from practicing his medical profession, the octogenarian was a good sportsperson too. When he was studying at erstwhile Ravenshaw College, Das led the tennis and football teams of the educational institution. Even to the extent, he became the tennis Doubles Champion in 1981.

Born in Mangalpur village under Nischintakoili block of Cuttack district in 1936, he worked as Head of the Medicine Department at SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das is his son-in-law.


Gita Mehta

Renowned writer and filmmaker Gita Mehta passed away at 80 on September 16 in New Delhi. She was the sister of Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and daughter of Biju Patnaik.

Gita Mehta will be remembered for her coverage of Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war for NBC and her acclaimed documentary ‘Dateline Bangladesh’. She was married to American publisher Sonny Mehta.

In 2019, the noted author was given the Padma Shri award but she refused to accept it.

Mehta’s books include Karma Cola, Snakes and Ladders, A River Sutra, Raj and Eternal Ganesha. She also produced and directed at least 14 television documentaries for UK, European, and US networks.


Sarat Chandra Mishra

Former Odisha Director General of Police (DGP) Sarat Chandra Mishra passed away at a private hospital, on October 10. The retired IPS officer was admitted to the healthcare facility after testing positive for dengue. He died at the age of 88 years.

Mishra served as the DGP of Odisha during 1991-92. He also worked with the foreign intelligence agency of India, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The IPS officer was a noted writer and had received the Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award. Mishra was also a columnist for Odia daily ‘Sambad’.


Binodini Devi

Veteran Odia lyricist Binodini Devi died on October 16 following a prolonged illness. She was 86.

Binodini rose to fame by writing lyrics for Odia films, which include ‘Rakata Talamala Khaira Panchapala’ from the film ‘Mala Janja’, ‘Kalia Asila Bhai Kalia Asila’ and ‘Seta Bhakata Bhabare Bandha’ from ‘Shree Jagannath’, ‘Nirimakhi Kuanri Mun’ from ‘Tapoi’ and ‘Nara Hey Manji Potila’ from ‘Jay Jagannath’.

Born in 1937 in the Tigiria area of Cuttack district, Binodini was also a prolific litterateur. Her works like ‘Khokatiye Khokitiye’ (compilation of children’s songs), ‘Amruta’ (devotional song compilation), ‘Tiki Tiki Naali Kaincha’ (children’s song compilation), ‘Ei Kala Mora Kalank’ (modern song collection) were some of the most talked about literary works.


Swarup Nayak

Eminent music director Swarup Nayak breathed his last at his residence in Cuttack, on October 27. He was suffering from throat cancer. He was 76.

Nayak had composed music for as many as 41 Odia films and was the lyricist in 30 of them. He also lent his voice to songs in several films and acted in a few.

Born on February 8, 1947, in Cuttack, Nayak’s tryst with the Odia film industry began when he acted as a child artiste in the film ‘Jayadev’ in 1962.

Nayak composed music for popular Odia films like ‘Hira Neela’, ‘Bagula Baguli’, ‘Lal Paan Bibi’, ‘Jahaku Rakhibe Ananta’, ‘Ki Heba Sua Posile’, ‘Panjuri Bhitare Sari’, ‘Kula Nandan’, ‘Pua Mora Bhola Shankar’, ‘Lakhe Siba Puji Paichi Pua’, ‘I Love You’, ‘Sasu Ghara Chalijibi’ and ‘Romeo: The Lover Boy’.


Maheshwar Mohanty

Maheswar Mohanty, former Speaker of the Odisha Legislative Assembly and Cabinet Minister for several terms, passed away on November 7 at a private hospital. He was 67.

A five-time MLA from Puri assembly constituency, Mohanty reigned supreme in Puri politics for around three decades. He first became an MLA in 1995 from Puri on a Janata Dal ticket.

Mohanty was elected as Speaker of the Assembly in May 2004, which he held till March 2008. After that, he was made a Minister for the first time in 2012 and continued to be in the Naveen Patnaik Cabinet till May 2019 before he lost elections to a BJP contender.


Dr. Jadunath Das

The nationally acclaimed cardiologist Dr. Jadunath Prasad Das died on November 19. He was 90.

Born on August 5, 1933, the nonagenarian was also an accomplished artist. He left an indelible mark in the realms of medicine and art. A distinguished Fellow of multiple medical societies, he pioneered cardiology in the State, earning accolades as the ‘Father of Cardiology’.

Dr. Das was the sixth qualified Cardiologist in India and received several awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cardiological Society of India. His legacy extends beyond medicine, showcased in solo art exhibitions worldwide.

Dr. Das worked as the Head of the Cardiology Department of SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH). He also set up a Cardiology Research Centre in Cuttack.


Sudhanshu Mohan Patnaik

Former Odisha Chief Secretary Sudhanshu Mohan Patnaik passed away on December 17. He was 83.

Patnaik breathed his last at his residence in Bhubaneswar. He was the first member of the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC). During his service period, he was the chairman of the Odisha Staff Selection Commission (OSSC).

Patnaik served as the chief secretary from March 8, 2000, to October 31, 2000.

An alumnus of Allahabad University, the bureaucrat had started his career as a Lecturer in History at SCS College in Puri.

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