Sharmili Mallick

Well-known social worker from Odisha, Gandhian follower and Padma Shri, Shanti Devi passed away on Sunday late night at her residence in Gunupur of Rayagada district. She was 88.

Shanti Devi suddenly fell unconscious after suffering chest pain last night and was immediately rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital. However, she was declared brought dead by the doctors, said family sources. 

Shanti Devi was recently conferred with India’s third-highest civilian honour, Padma Shri for her invaluable contribution for the upliftment of tribal girls and women in the then undivided Koraput district.

Condolences poured in from various quarters after the news of the demise of Shanti Devi came.

"Saddened by the demise of noted social worker, Smt. Shanti Devi Ji. She will be remembered for her untiring efforts for the empowerment of tribal girls through education. My deepest condolences to her family. Om Shanti!,"said M. Venkaiah Naidu in a tweet.

PM Narendra Modi condoled the death of Padma Shri Shanti Devi. "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. Om Shanti," tweeted the PM.



“Deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of the Padma Shri awardee and social worker, Shanti Devi. Her lifelong efforts to help the helpless and tribal will always be inspiring. Her contribution to social work is invaluable. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and wish them well,” wrote CM Naveen Patnaik while condoling the death of the renowned social worker.

“Saddened to hear about the sad demise of renowned social worker Padma Shri Shanti Devi. Her selfless service for upliftment of tribal girls in Undivided Koraput will be remembered forever. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family & all well wishers. May her soul rest in peace,” tweeted Koraput MP Saptagiri Ulaka.



Shanti Devi was born on April 18, 1934 to a landlord family in Balasore district. After two years of college at the age of 17, she was married off to a doctor Rata Das, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and moved to then undivided Koraput district with her husband.

She established an ashram at Sankhalpadar village in Rayagada district (then undivided Koraput district) for the tribal children and started looking after leprosy patients there.

Shanti Devi met Gandhian follower Acharya Vinoba Bhave in 1955-56. Inspired by his ideology, she started working for the development of tribals, destitute women and orphaned girls and took part in his Bhoodan Movement.

She also founded Seva Samaj Ashram at Gunupur in Rayagada district in 1964 for rehabilitating orphans, destitute and poor children. 

She also set up another ashram at Gunupur for the education, rehabilitation and vocational training of orphans and destitute children.

Shanti Devi also has three orphanages dedicated to girls in Gunupur and Rayagada, a hostel at Limameda for tribal girls and eight welfare centres for tribal children in Rayagada and Gajapati. 

In 1961, she became the secretary of Utkal Navajeevan Mandal. She became the President of Odisha Prohibition Congress and was also associated with several Gandhian organisations. She is the vice-president of Agragamee’s governing body since its foundation.

Apart from Padma Shri, she was felicitated with the Jamunalal Bazaz Award and Radhanath Rath Peace Award.

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