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It was quite an arduous journey from the pensive gullies in the woods to a morning of meaning and substance. Like a lamppost, for over the last three decades, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) has been instrumental in playing a deciding role in uplifting a lot of Indigenous tribal children from the hinterland of Odisha other parts of India. KISS, which has grown to be a Deemed to be University, is not only a teaching Institution but has ushered in a sort of revolution by providing end to end solution which encompasses innovative pedagogy, food security, 360-degree medical care, enabling environment, vocational education for entrepreneurship, livelihood generation; above all research-based studies education-oriented initiatives for the preservation of traditional tribal knowledge, language, culture, dance; crafts, etc.
No doubt it has become a sought-after destination for scores of young tribal boys and girls who join KISS to carve out a new destiny for themselves and become role models/change agents for their communities.
Another way round, KISS has supported the Government initiatives in preparing a new life for them, who could have been lured away by extremism thriving along the Red corridor of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
KISS was founded by eminent educationist, social activist and philanthropist Dr. Achyuta Samanta in 1992-93. After more than three decades of glorious journey, Dr. Samanta doesn’t require an introduction. From negotiating through arduous early years today he has become a great rallying point for people at home and abroad.
KISS stands out like a signature symbol of Dr. Samanta’s tenacity and determination. Currently, he is a Member of Indian Parliament, Lok Sabha. Besides education and tribal upliftment, healthcare and rural development, he has contributed immensely to art, culture, literature, film, media, society and national integration. His contribution to the field of sports requires a huge canvass to list its rise and expanses, right from the grassroots to the international victory podiums. The enormity of the man can hardly be elaborated within the concise space of admiration on papers.f
Besides KISS, he also founded Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), and both educational institutions have achieved global repute and recognition. KIIT is an Institution of Eminence and one of the most prominent universities in India and globe for professional education having more than 30,000 students from all over India and 65 other countries. KISS is a home for 60,000 indigenous children all absolutely free.
KISSian, Shankar Tiaka, who has been able to break free out of the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger, illiteracy; is progressing on the high road of growth with new hope in his eyes.
Shankar was born to Fagu, Laki Tiaka both tribals from the Kandha community in the remote Katlang village, of Sikarpai G.P, Kalnyansingpur Block in Rayagada district. Katlang is surrounded by dense forests and mountains. His parents were more than happy to have him and life appeared to be full of bliss. But his happiness did not last long. Shankar lost his mother very early. His father remarried and he was brought up by his foster mother.
The family consisted of two brothers and a sister. Shankar’s father was educated up to primary levels he cultivated his small piece of land to make a living. But life remained a struggle nevertheless. He used to depend on daily wages and Shankar was very much interested to study.
At this juncture, Fagu Tiaka came to know about KISS, got his son admitted in class-V in 2016-17. Initially, Shankar could no way accept the transition and longed for a carefree life in the forest. Gradually he was motivated to study. The pedagogy of KISS love/affection of his teachers worked wonders for him. Since then, Shankar has been moving forward with a lot of dreams.
Now, he is in class X. At KISS, Shankar has proved himself to be a gifted scholar and in addition to his regular course, he has learned sewing in the vocational center. Even he has stitched his own school Uniform himself. He has also excelled in the English language.
Shankar hopes to complete his studies at KISS and become a good teacher in a Government School. He is conscious of the deplorable condition of primary education in his village and hopes to improve it. It is amazing that this kind of thought, Shankar has dared to dream of being handheld at KISS. He gives all credit to KISS for the change in his life. He feels indebted to Dr.Samanta for giving him this opportunity to do something in his life.
The KANDHA tribe is numerically the largest tribe of Odisha and is mostly located in southern parts of the state in Rayagada, Kandhamal, Kalahandi and Koraput. They are mostly nature worshippers and pay obeisance to the mountain, earth, rains and the forest.
The Kandha villages have linear village settlements. They have their own traditional festivals with folk dances and songs being part of life. Their language has a Dravidian lineage like Kui, Kuvi. No doubt, Shankar, a brilliant youngster of this community, has exemplified rare fortitude and proved that “Given the right opportunity, anybody can excel’’. It is hoped that many young men and women of this community will follow suit, make careers and go ahead in life.
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This is a perfect example of how, we as a society shld help uplift the downtrodden & the disadvantaged. We really need such social activists and philanthropists like Dr. Achyuta Samanta who indeed have set an example for other privileged class to follow their footsteps of practicality instead of mere verbal discourses..