Over the last three decades, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), has been instrumental in playing a deciding role in uplifting the 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 & action oriented initiatives for preservation of traditional tribal knowledge, language, culture, dance & crafts etc. No doubt it has become a preferential destination for scores of young tribal boys & girls who join KISS to carve out a new destiny for themselves & become role models/change agents for their communities. Other 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 & Andhra Pradesh.

Yes, here we are showcasing the interesting & yet challenging story of one such KISSIAN, SankarTiaka, who has striven to break free out of the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger and illiteracy and is progressing on the high road of growth with new hope in his eyes.

Sankar was born to Fagu&LakiTiaka 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 & mountains. His parents were more than happy to have him& life appeared to be full of bliss. Sankar began growing in his mother’s cradle. But his happiness did not last long. Sankar lost his mother in infancy to an unknown disease. His father remarried & he was brought up by his foster mother. But somewhere he longed for the warmth of the lap of his own mother. The family consisted of two brothers & a sister. Sankar’s father was educated upto primary levels & he tended to his small piece of land to make a living. He used to depend on daily wages & catered to his small vegetable/fruits garden to supplement his meagre earnings.

But amidst this scenario, Sankar was very much interested to study. His father got him admitted to the village school, but as usual, the school lacked necessary infrastructure, teachers & he could not make any progress. At this juncture, FaguTiaka came to know about KISS, & got his son admitted in class-V in 2016-17. Initially Sankar could no way accept the transition & longed for the carefree life in the forest. Gradually the enabling environment of KISS took Sankar under its wings & he was motivated to study. The pedagogy of KISS & love/affection of his teachers worked wonders for him. Since then, Sankar has been marching forward with a lot of dreams & spring in his footsteps. Now, he is in class-X. At KISS, Sankar has proved himself to be a gifted scholar & in addition to his regular course, he has learnt sewing in the vocational centre. Even he has stitched his own school Uniform himself. He has also excelled in the English language.

Sankar hopes to complete his studies at KISS & become a good teacher in a Government School. He is conscious of the deplorable condition of primary education in his village & hopes to improve it. It is amazing that this kind of thought, Sankar has dared to dream being handheld at KISS. He gives all credit to KISS for the change in his life. He feels indebted to Prof. Samanta for giving him this opportunity to do something in his life.

The KANDHA tribe is numerically the largest tribe of Odisha & are mostly located in southern parts of the state in Rayagada, Kandhamal, Kalahandi & Koraput. They are mostly nature worshippers & pay obeisance to the mountain, earth, rains & the forest. The Kandha villages have linear village settlement. They have their own traditional festivals with folk dances & songs being part of life. Their language has a Dravidian lineage like Kui & Kuvi. The major occupations are settled & shifting cultivation, animal husbandry, hunting & collection of forest produce.

No doubt, Sankar, a brilliant youngster of this community has exemplified rare fortitude & proved that, “Given the right opportunity, anybody can excel’’. It is hoped that many young men & women of this community will follow suit, make careers & join the nation building process & create memories worth cherishing.

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  1. No wonder that “Given the right opportunity, anybody can excel’’ and Sankar Tiaka is proving it right. Hope many more Sankar Tiakas are nurtured by such institutes like this Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). Best wishes to all.


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