Achyut Samanta: A Man Who Brought Smiles on Thousands of Faces
| Onkareshwar Pandey - 27 Nov 2018

Achyut Samanta: A Real Leader of Poor and Tribals

Achyut Samanta: A Man Who Brought Smiles on Thousands of Faces


By Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, Nov 24, 2018: My journey to Bhubaneswar was on the invitation from the Birla Global University. And it was simply aimed to give a lecture on the Media. Usually, I call on my local contacts while visiting any state or city just to refresh the relationships and networking.  So, I called my friend and senior journalist of Odisha Mr Hemant Tiwari, who is working as Editor of Sanmarg Hindi Daily at Bhubaneswar. He was in Kolkata but suggested to meet Shri Ashok Pandey Ji. In a few minutes, I was talking to Shri Ashok Pandey Ji, a veteran Journalist and Educationist, who further suggested me to find time to visit KIIT & KISS University campuses. I was not very amazed, but thought, since I am already visiting One University, no harm in seeing one or two other institutions.

After finishing my lecture and interaction with students, faculties and management of BGU (Birla Global University) I went to visit the KIIT & KISS Campuses. And believe me; I was astonished to see these two Institutions - Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS).

Located in the lush green areas and spread into a huge 25 Km, yes – Kilometers radius, KISS & KIIT are indeed world-class institutions. Both Universities are fully residential Universities equipped with all the latest technology, facilities and faculty. I was told that KISS is the largest residential tribal institute in the World!

Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar, is a fully free, fully residential home for 27000 poorest of the poor indigenous children and 10,000 alumni who are provided holistic education from Kindergarten to Post Graduation along with lodging, boarding, health care facilities besides vocational, life skills empowerment.

It’s not easy to provide such a big facility to so many children and that too located in a Naxal and Maoist insurgency-affected areas

But a revolution has taken place. These Universities have changed the lives of thousands and thousands of Tribals. Their children have got a bright future. Their families have got jobs around these institutions. Tribals of Odisha love him, respect him and adore him. A history has been created and written in the golden words. A new leadership has emerged, a real tribal leadership. And he is none other than – Dr Achyut Samanta. 

Who is Dr Achyut Samant?

He is a very simple man who was born in Kalarabanka in Cuttack district of Odisha in the year of 1965. Achyut Samant was so unlucky that he lost his father in his early childhood. His father Sri Anadi Charan Samanta passed away when he was only four years old.

In a tragic train accident his father died leaving seven siblings and the widowed wife behind. The youngest sibling was about a month old and the eldest 17 years. The deceased father was a petty worker in an industry.

Her mother Smt. Nilima Rani Samanta bravely struggled a lot to grow all the siblings, including the small boy. They had to grow up in the midst of severe poverty in a very remote village of Odisha in India. The family often starved for long intervals of time stretching from two or even more days before finding a sub-minimal meal. In his childhood,  Achyut Samanta and his siblings suffered a lot due to poverty, but Achyut never lost hope.

He voluntarily did odd menial jobs here and there and helped his widowed mother. The early childhood and fate forced Achyut to fend for himself and was thus self-made right from the age of about 5 years. He gave his mother the solace by wiping her tears and he gave his little sister the comfort of his lap to sleep on.

It’s truly said, “There is no human being on Earth strong, powerful, wise, or rich - who has not experienced struggle, suffering, or failure”. Some time struggle makes a man stronger.

In due course of time, Achyut grew up to be a youth and with his growth imbibed a compassionate heart that throbbed for selfless help to the needy, be it his friends or any other. After completion of his Master’s Degree in Chemistry, Achyut started teaching in a local college. Besides the job he did private tutoring and with the income he supported his needy friends and his poor family members.

Achyut Samanta may not have then read Robert Tew, but he followed his own path almost on Robert’s lines. Robert Tew has said, “The struggle you're in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don't give up.”

Ultimately, after all the adversity he had faced in his life, all his troubles and obstacles strengthened him….

And young Achyut Samanta soon thought of and ventured to set up two institutions Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), with only Rs. 5000/- (100 USD) in a rented building in 1992–93. However, establishing them and ensuring the endurance of the two institutions was an extremely arduous journey. He incurred hand-loans from well-wishers and near and dear ones and pawned his personal belongings raised penny by penny from his insubstantial income.

And from Achyut Samanta, another personality emerged as Dr Achyut Samanta Sir, proving Napoleon Hill absolutely right, that “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.

Today, Dr Achyuta Samanta is one of the most popular social entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a well-known personality in the field of education in India.

KIIT and KISS are his popular brainchild. 

KISS has become the largest Residential Tribal Institute in the World and is home for 50,000 poor tribal children (27,000 pursuing at KISS Bhubaneswar + 12,000 alumni + 10,000 in satellite centres of KISS campus in 10 tribal districts of Odisha). Both KIIT and KISS found a place in the Limca Book of Records as well as Guinness World Records in many counts.

What a Campus!… Not one Campus!!…

The Kalinga Institutes, which are generally abbreviated at KIIT, have more than a dozen institutions associated with it. It took more than three hours to take a round and have a glimpse of these campuses without spending much time. I visited - KIIT University, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, KIIT International School, Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, KIIT School of Management, KIIT School of Rural Management, KIIT School of Computer Application, KIIT School of Bio-Technology, KIIT Law School, KIIT School of Languages, Kalinga Institute of Dental Sciences (KIDS) and Kalinga Polytechnic.

Establishment of KISS has proven it’s far-reaching consequences on the development of the aborigine society which has been getting beleaguered due to the devastation of their natural habitat, consequent redundancy of their traditional vocations and lack of modern knowledge and skills. This precarious situation of the aborigine community has made them directionless, and they have been easy prey to the evil designs of the Naxal insurgents.

The KISS has been instrumental in not only bridging the gaps but also has been instrumental in dousing Naxal insurgency in the rural and backward districts of Odisha, making this young man a soft target of the Maoist insurgents. However he remains undaunted by the threats to his life from the ultras and he is marching on in his mission to free the aborigine society from ignorance, exploitation and violence and leading them to peace and prosperity at par with the mainstream population. In KISS, the aborigine community has been able to see a new hope for their existence on the surface of the earth at par with the mainstream society. Just imagine, the small institute that started with only 100 USD in 1992 has been instrumental in giving smiles directly and indirectly to over 1 million people by 2013 and looks forward to giving smiles to 10 million people by 2020. Over 10,000 of these tribal children have passed out and are currently working across several corporates as well as in various services, including the Odisha Civil services, Police services, Forest Services and Medical services. Many of them come from areas where Naxal extremism is rampant and would have likely ended up taking up arms themselves, had they not received a way out. For all these Tribal families and communities, Dr Achyut Samanta is a kind of God.

This alone is such a big achievement and contribution to the society that KISS is being compared with the institutions like Gurukul, Shanti Niketan and BHU.

Some people might feel exaggeration in this to compare Dr Achyut Samanta’s work with Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore and Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, but my submission is based only on those institutions built by these personalities. Achyut Samanta’s KISS is not less than any of these prestigious institutions which became milestone and pioneer in the field of education in India. In fact, none of the above institutions has given free education to such a large number of children of deprived tribal communities from across the state.  

Professor Achyuta Samanta has single-handedly ushered in an educational revolution of sorts in Odisha through his Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences and Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT University).  Dr Samanta has worked tirelessly among tribals of the state, providing them with free education, accommodation; food and healthcare from class one to post-graduation with vocational training.

Martin Luther King, Jr.had said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

And there is no doubt in saying that Dr Samanta is such a passionate and dedicated individual who has turned the lives of thousands and thousands of Tribal people in real good and happy lives.

KIIT has grown into one of the most promising Universities imparting professional education in the Country with global acclaim having 27,000 students from across the country and abroad. KIIT also runs a 2000 bedded multispecialty hospital and an attached Medical College.

Dr Samanta has also developed his own village ‘Kalarabank’, Cuttack into a Smart Model Village has all amenities of a city and now he is trying to turn the entire Manpur Panchayat into a model Panchayat (cluster of villages).

In August 2018, his pet project, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, was granted deemed university status by the ministry of human resources development, making it the first exclusively tribal university in the world. His private professional institute, KIIT University, also has more than 27,000 students from 40 countries pursuing different streams including engineering, medicine and law and has a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore per annum.

And that is why, Dr Achyut Samanta has received many national and international awards like Jawaharlal Nehru Award, Honorary Fellowship Award by CSI, CIS Award from Moscow, Russia, honorary Doctorate of Letter from Chosun University, South Korea, Gusi Peace Prize International, Manila, Philippines for his pioneering work in the field of education and entrepreneurship.

Dr Samanta is also the general president of the Indian Science Congress Association 2017-18. His next goal is to set up branches of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences in 20 districts of Odisha within a couple of years and subsequently, in 20 states - and he’s been busy trying to rope in business houses to contribute to his cause.

Apart from his educational institutions, Dr Samanta is also a true lover and promoter of art and culture. He has also founded Kadambini Media Pvt Ltd (KMPL), which runs Kalinga TV Channel in Odiya language. He has been the organiser of Nanhi Pari, a Little Miss India competition, since 2000. He has established 25 spiritual centres and shrines and is in the process of setting up 'Gandhi Gram' in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, a tribal museum to showcase tribal life, art and culture, and a centre for yoga and spiritualism. He got Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from Daffodil International University.

I went to meet Dr Achyut Samanta, who was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha from Odisha by the ruling, Biju Janata Dal at his residence at Bhubaneswar.

The nameplate on the building was of some Dr BK Das. I asked the driver, who is Dr BK Das here? And his answer was unbelievable for me, as he said, Sir, Dr BK Das is the real owner of this house, and Dr Samata is living here on rent. The same person, after creating so much for the society and people and after achieving so much, lives the simplest-of-the-simple life in a two-room rented house without any personal property.

Dr Samanta has got some spinal injury and thus he was sleeping on his bed close to the drawing room where I was sitting with Shri Ashok Pandey Ji. Suddenly he woke up and said… “Ohh Pandey Ji, Please come, I was waiting for you since quite long.”

We had a brief chat because I had to catch my flight to Delhi the same day. But in his brief chat also, he talked about his mission and vision to serve the poorest of the poor in the country. He is not married. I asked, why? He smiled, and said, “I don’t want any deviation from my mission to serve the downtrodden.”

“Wipe every tear from every eye.”-Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, had said in his historical speech on 15th of August 1947. And then Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed this script and promised to bring ‘Achche Din” after more than six decades of achieving freedom. However, it is debatable that Modi could get success or not, but Dr Samanta has been successful in bringing Smile on Thousands of Faces and his only hobby is to bring smiles to the faces of thousands of poor children irrespective of caste, creed, religion and nationality.

(The writer Onkareshwar Pandey is a bi-lingual journalist having over 30 years of experience in all four major wings of the Media (Print, TV, Digital and News Agency). He has worked as an Editor for more than 8 times in various media houses. He was Senior Group Editor - Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu Daily & Digital) till July 2018. He has also worked as Editor-News, ANI – India’s No-1 Multi-Media News Agency, from March 2017 to Jan 2018. He has written Six Books on various subjects including ‘Kargil Intrusion and Terror in the Valley’ and ‘Enemy Property and India’s National Interest’, first and only book on this subject in India. His first Book on Kargil Intrusion was launched by Shri LK Advani, the then Indian Home Minister in 2000. He is the Executive President of BROADCASTERS CLUB OF INDIA (BCI) and working as CEO and Editor in Chief of - , a niche News portal in operations from last 2 years. (Contact – 09910150119 Email -  )


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