“One possible reason why I am still single is because of my commitment to work”, said a grinning Linkan Subudhi
In case you start analyzing the political winds blowing across states, you will notice a bleakness in Odisha’s milieu. A land so crammed of social issues; it has a very little leadership to combat the same.
Linkan Subudhi became a defiant figure in the league of leadership by her combating child marriages with impeccable eccentricity. Back in 2013, Subudhi became a quirky icon of social service after her courageous decision to stop a child marriage in Noida, following which she was assaulted to near-death by the culprits, receiving over 40 stitches on the body.
The daughter of a Retired army personnel, Linkan is a software engineer in profession who graduated from Ravenshaw University. Due to the on-going pandemic, Linkan engaged with us in a virtual platform- her face was brimming with elation for the upcoming marriage ceremony of her brother.
In the one-hour long conversation as we sat with her, our conversation spanned from her decision to join the statewide local political party BJD( Biju Janta Dal) to the dreadful incident of Noida and the upcoming projects of her own foundation- SEVA PRAYAS.
TUSP correspondent Devdurlabh Harichandan writes-
Interviewer: After your courageous stint in Noida there was a splurge of impact and influence around your name when you landed in Odisha! Is there a descent to the impact of your name today comparable to then?
Linkan: (grins) Yes, after I came here there was an unexpected wave of appreciation, sympathy and love from everyone that I have met. Like I have said, the youth is my biggest strength. The biggest Idea within me since was to motivate and inspire them who could join me in fighting systemic evils present in the society. Despite that, you know how every mechanism works, but we have to push harder to gain the results back. Due to the involuntary support of thousands of workers and volunteers at Seva Prayas we have left a impact in people’s mind about our presence which has paid off. With hundreds of volunteers from Khurdha and tribal districts of Odisha, we have engaged in various programmes such as traffic volunteers and conducting street plays to bring awareness.
Interviewer: Being born and brought up in Bhubaneswar, in your growing years you must have felt the social injustice in a small city which is less exposed to variability. How did the social milieu differ after you moved to a big city like Noida?
Linkan: Well to answer this, I will say that there will always be a difference. Let’s just say when I moved abroad for my felicitation programmes there was a huge barrier in the evidence of social justice. As far as my knowledge goes this happens primarily due to improper administration. The same graph becomes evincing when there is a case comparison between the cities of US and Noida.
Interviewer: As per the basic societal standards, it is commonplace knowledge that its an arduous process to maintain and keep an NGO thriving, especially in organizing and managing funds. How have you fared in this process?
Linkan: The beginning for me has been painstakingly hard. As you know, I was working in IT industry for over 7 years as a software engineer and there were irrational hierarchies and office politics which prevented me from continuing to work there. However it was a little considerate in supporting my work by giving me night shifts where I could serve my UK and US clients. In between, those several colleagues of mine wholeheartedly supported my cause and gave small donation which helped my interests to thrive.
Due to discord between my personal and professional work I left my Job in 2016. After relentlessly running many programmes for my NGO till 2019, I was offered to take off the activities in CSIR by KIIT and KISS founder, Achyuta Samanta. Mr. Samanta always encourages keeping up with my social causes and reaching out to him whenever I want. This has been again a great opportunity for me where I could reach out to one of the most renowned universities in the world that serves and educates the largest number of tribal children from interior parts of Odisha.
Interviewer: In the past we have seen various social activists contesting elections independently to combat injustice and serve the bigger interests of the society. Don’t you think you could have served your purpose better in politics by contesting as a independent candidate rather than from ruling party Biju Janata Dal?
Linkan: Actually I was new and aloof to politics since the beginning of my stance in doing social service. But after I came to Odisha there was an usher of love, appreciation and blessings from everyone. That is when the offer of BJD came at my doorstep to fight elections, at first I thought of it as their political intent. But the Honourable Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had something else in his mind- which was to project the transformation through my work.
This made me clutch the objective that rather than critiquing the administration I can at least change peoples’ lives and alleviate their problems by being a part of it. And to be truthful, in these years the chief minister and party has always been patient and considerate towards my ideas.
Interviewers: In the lockdown there have been many incidents and news which evinced domestic violence in homes that were not reported in police stations.How has the Seva Prayas Foundation taken action against it?
Linkan: Luckily, Seva Prayas Foundation was equipped enough to solve numerous cases which came its way during the period of lockdown. Due to the strict protocols, it was quite hard for us to engage with them on the ground, so we attempted to resolve it via virtual mediums by giving them ample legal and personal support. At certain stages we have also updates on their situation by contacting frequently.
If I will disseminate it, then I will say that there was a structural change in those periods which caused this misery. As in earlier there used to be certain spaces between a working member who used to spend 10-12 hours daily to that of a non-working member. But as the landscape changed and the huddle between the confined spaces increased this resulted in this kind of unbelievable inhumane acts of abuse. As the social landscape is changing now with the gradual balance of Unlock protocols I am sure things will be back to normal.
Interviewer: What are some of your upcoming projects of your foundation? On which grounds are trying to bring the next change?
Linkan: I have devoted my whole life for the betterment of society and its attitude towards child marriage. Maybe, that is one of the main reasons why I am still single (laughs). As I have said, Seva Prayas Foundation will always work on its primary resolution to diminish child marriage. Besides that our main focus will always be on social initiatives such as Pari and other programs which will cause a robust impact on the society. As I mostly say to all the workers and volunteers of my NGO, rather than looking for change, let’s be the change through which we will fight against the evil forces of our society.