A Good Samaritan

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A well-established physician, noted social activist, eminent theatre personality and an accomplished writer – Dr. Jagannath Mohapatra has proved that with the right attitude and positive approach towards life no milestone is impossible to achieve. The inspiring journey of Dr. Mohapatra and his tenacity to rise above all odds is enviable.
Inspite of being born in a poor family in Asureswar, Dr. Mohapatra always dreamt big and aspired to be a doctor. Dr. Mohapatra shares his journey with Team Coffee Bytes…“When I was in Class IX, I came to Bhubaneswar and got admitted into Capital High School, Bhubaneswar. One fine day I decided to enroll my name for Army Recruitment. So without informing anyone, I secretly left for Secunderabad to join the Army,” he says.
Dr. Mohapatra had no prior knowledge about the Army. Unable to face its tough training and recruitment process, he decided to leave the Army. On returning back to Bhubaneswar, he didn’t have a single penny to spend or have shelter to live. “One day, I came across my school headmaster who inquired bout my whereabouts, he forcibly took me to his home and gave me Rs 300. I took admission in Capital High School again and continued my studies with an aim to become a reputed doctor,” says Dr. Mohapatra wiping the tears from his eyes.
But Dr. Mohapatra’s struggle was far from being over. He walked over 5kms on foot to his school to save money and gave evening tuitions to pay his school fees. “I successfully passed the matriculation exam but it was a dream to take admission at BJB College back then. With much difficulty, I got into BJB College in 1960,” he says. It was during this phase he got involved in several social activities. Having seen poverty so closely, he never wanted to see anyone in trouble and hence stood like a pillar for everyone at college.
The urge to become a doctor was still very much alive in Dr. Mohapatra’s mind and heart and finally in 1962, he took admission in SCB Medical College, Cuttack. Apart from studies, he was actively involved in the student politics, sports, theatre, cultural and social activities that made him popular among his friends and teachers.
After passing out from SCB, Dr. Mohapatra got posted at a medical aid centre as an Assistant Surgeon in Banamalipur. “With no basic facilities in hand, life at Banamalipur was definitely challenging but I always enjoyed the support, love and blessings of local people,” he reminisces.
Dr.Mohapatra recalls an incident where he faced a lifethreatening accident in 1971. “I faced a severe accident and remained unconscious for nearly 12 hours in hospital. The doctors who were treating me had lost hope. But as fate would have it, the prayers of my family members, friends and well-wishers saved me from the clutches of death”.
He was also instrumental in bringing Durga Puja celebrations to Saheed Nagar in 1978 which till date draws scores of crowd from across Odisha and outside.
Dr. Mohapatra also carved a niche as a political leader though his stint in politics was short-lived. “I was never really interested in politics. Since I was close to Late Biju Babu and Late Janaki Babu, they both insisted me to join mainstream politics and serve the society,” he recalls. In 1996, he took the call and contested the Saheed Nagar Council elections which he won and subsequently became the Chairman of Bhubaneswar Municipality. During his tenure he visited Paris, Netherlands and Germany on behalf of India Council of Mayors. He undertook several developmental activities and worked for the welfare of local people. Much before he could complete his term, the BJP-BJD coalition Govt. came into force and the Municipality was completely dissolved. “I never really savoured my political journey. I was not ready to compromise with my ethics. So I decided to part ways and concentrate on my medical profession and serve the patients,” says Dr.Mohapatra.
“Call it my bad stars or personal negligence, my daughter got inflicted with polio at a young age. I was deeply affected by the incident and since then I decided to come up with a hospital meant for children only. This spurred me to set up Jagannath Hospital in 2012,” says Dr.Mohapatra whose only wish is to serve the people till his last breath. Strategically located in Saheed Nagar, today Jagannath Hospital is one of the most sought after hospitals in Odisha providing state-of-the-art paediatric and maternity services.
Even today, he defies age when it comes to social activities. Starting from organizing health camps to opening drinking water kiosks during summer, he is always seen greeting people with a broad smile and with open arms. Even today, his chamber at Abinash Clinic and Nursing Home remains abuzz with patients who look forward to his midas touch.
Notwithstanding his amazing journey, Dr.Mohapatra feels his struggle and positive approach towards life has brought him where he is today. “Never compromise with your thoughts and ethics. Staying true to yourself is important to succeed in life. Only hard work, dedication and being God-fearing will bring you success. Life is very short, do not waste it by doing cheap things rather invest your time in helping others and standing with them whenever it is required the most,” says Dr. Mohapatra before signing off.

By Subhojit Panda

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