Life story of Shri Achyuta Samanta:
- A Brief Information.
One day, in 1969, very early in the morning, about 5.00 A.M. a small boy, about 4 years old, could not understand why, all of a sudden, members in the family burst into a loud wail and looked crestfallen. Not knowing what to do and what not to do, the child looked inquiringly at the grief stricken faces. Soon he came to realize that his father had died, though the word death was beyond his understanding.
His father had died in a tragic train accident 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 and had left no savings for the 8-member family to survive on.
All the siblings, including the small boy, 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. The poverty was so stark that the child’s mother didn’t even have a second ‘Saree’ (normal wear of Indian women) to change after her bath and had to manage with the wet clothes on.
Seeing the sufferings, the boy voluntarily did odd menial jobs here and there and helped his widowed mother. The early childhood and fate forced the boy 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.
By about 7 years of age the boy was already sharing a part of his hard earned money with classmates. He kept one rupee out of his daily wage just to give tea and snacks to his friends at a tea shop near the school where they studied. He also helped the village folks and friends by giving his time and energy to fetch groceries and provisions from the nearby market every now and then. The boy grew up to be a youth in due course of time 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, this young man landed himself in a teaching job 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 ignoring his own comforts (1987-1997).
This young man 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 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.
At one point in time (1994-95) the loan burden on his head was so huge, almost touching 2.5 Million rupees, that repayment of the same seemed bleak; and thus burdened with shame and frustration the young man wished death to come to him and he decided to end his life himself. With the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the young man survived the depression and marched ahead with his mission against all odds.
Today, while one of these institutions has become the most promising university of the country with 25,000 students from across the globe, the other institution has become the beauty of the world which nurtures and gives a decent life to 25,000 poor indigenous aborigine children of the country, providing free education from Kindergarten to Post Graduation and professional education with fully free residential and boarding facility.
His vision of establishing the two institutes, KIIT and KISS in a contiguous campus has been providing the much needed day to day interface between, and integration of the poorest of the poor aborigine children of KISS and the much elite and rich children of the mainstream society KIIT. The two communities seamlessly and closely interact with each other and thus a strong cultural sensitivity and bonding is developed between them.
Establishment of KISS has far reaching consequences on the development of the aborigine society which has been getting beleaguered due to 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 insurgents. 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.
KISS has been instrumental in not only bridging these gaps but also has been instrumental in dousing insurgency in the hinterlands although this has made this young man a soft target of the ultras. 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.
The small institute that started with only 100 USD in 1992 has been instrumental in giving smiles directly and indirectly to 1 million people by 2013 and looks forward to giving smiles to 10 million people by 2020.
This man never forgets his benefactors. He hasn’t forgotten his childhood friends who gave him company in his bad days. He has been giving financial assistance every month to several poverty stricken school friends and has given employment to many of his friends in his two institutions. He didn’t forget his village which nurtured him as a child. He has given back to his remote village turning it into a model village having all amenities of a city. He has also greatly contributed towards enriching art, culture, films, literature, spiritualism and many other fields.
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 and has chosen to remain a bachelor throughout his life. His only hobby is to bring smiles to the faces of thousands of poor children irrespective of caste, creed, religion and nationality.
He hasn’t restricted his area of work to Bhubaneswar alone. He has gone beyond the city’s boundaries and is establishing KISS-like institutions not only in all districts of the state, but also in other states and countries in a bid to serve all of the poor communities anywhere in the world.
This boy of yester years, who has now grown big in stature with decorations bestowed on him such as the highest civilian award of the Kingdom of Bahrain- The Isa Award for Service to Humanity (with 1 Million USD as prize money), the highest civilian award of Mangolia and GUSI PEACE PRIZE INTERNATIONAL (popularly known as the Asia's Nobel Peace Prize), President's Gold Medal, CIS International Association of Knowledge, Moscow; High Civilian Award of Czeck Republic; 'Hall of Fame' Award from World CSR Congress, Economic Times Award has also been awarded 31 Degrees of Doctorate/Doctor of Letters (Honorary Causa) from different Universities in India and abroad, besides 3 national fellowships (ISTE, CSI, ICA), 50 national and 200 state awards too.
He has also been assigned very high positions in various Government of India offices- Commission Member, UGC (2008-14); AICTE; NCTE; etc, and member of six international education bodies of high prominence including CIFEJ in Dubai- a rare achievement for a man with such a modest background as his. He has been elected as General President (2017-18) of 105th Indian Science Congress. He is the youngest ever General President of ISCA.