Dr Mahapatra is a major Indian poet, whose anthologies of poetry have been published in all major Indian languages, English and other global languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian. Educated in Utkal, Allahabad and Cambridge Universities, he has been conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and Padma Vibhushan in 2010. He has been honoured with several literary awards, including the Jnanpith, Sahitya Akademi Award, Soviet Land Nehru Award, Kumaran Asan Award and Kabir Samman. He holds a doctorate in social anthropology and has done extensive research on the transformation of tribal societies of Eastern India, published by Oxford University Press and others. Known as the ‘foremost interpreter’ of tribal poetry of India, he has translated and edited eight such anthologies, including ‘They Sing Life’ in UNESCO Collection of Representative Works.
He has been a Fellow of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. Soka University, Tokyo has conferred Hon. D.Litt on him. Five other Indian Universities have also conferred Honorary Doctorates on him. He was President of the Inter-Governmental Committee of UNESCO’S World Decade for Culture and Development.
A distinguished civil servant, he has also served as Chairman of the National Book Trust and Ombudsman Reserve Bank of India. Sahitya Akademi has conferred Fellowship on him in 2012. The SAARC Writers Conference has honoured him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.