Amrita Patel, firebrand feminist and a progressive scholar-activist passed away on Monday morning at 11 am after battling cancer for the past six months.
Dr. Amrita Patel, was the Advisor to State Women Resource Centre, Government of Odisha.
Even on her last day, she was doing what she loves best, addressing her last audience at a seminar on “Crime Against Women; Understanding Data & Building Perspectives.”
Amrita was born to a bureaucrat father and a mother who was a lecturer on 18th April, 1965. She left Odisha to study Physics in Miranda House, Delhi University for her bachelors against her parents wishes in 1983. Soon after, she rebelled against the caste system and brahminical orthodoxy through her decision of an inter-caste marriage. She relocated to Bhubaneswar to embrace her marital life and motherhood in 1996.
In Bhubaneswar, she met her mentor Prof. Asha Hans, who persuaded and inspired her to pick up her academic career again. She switched streams to the Humanities and did her PhD in women’s studies. This was the start of a bright professional career in the development sector. She immersed herself in research on gender issues specialising in land titles for women, migration and gender responsive budgeting.
She has been considered a pre-eminent expert in the field of gender budgeting in Odisha. Her work as a consultant took her to many distant shores and her commitment to the ideals of feminism and compassion for the marginalised always stood out in her work. Her last job was as State Coordinator in the State Resource Center for Women, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Odisha.
Her career was a unique blend of an academician and that of a practitioner, which meant that she could translate her academic intellect into the practical wisdom required for successful implementation of developmental interventions.
Even in death, she had a purpose and she donated her body to the local medical college for anatomical research. She was an iconoclast who did not want to be cremated as per Hindu rites and her family respected her last wish. She was a bright flame who lived a full life and with her passing, Bhubaneswar has lost a very valuable member of the intellectual community. She lived the life of an exemplar, always practising what she preached and her ideals and principles will continue to inspire those who had the good fortune
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