The times left behind and the ones those followed, in 2021, were a mixed bag of fortunes those went through a tremendous fluctuations. A time that helped the memory with a throwback to a century when the world was pounded by the deadly Spanish Flu. However, the year 2021 began with a sigh of relief after facing an unprecedented crisis in the previous year which had affected and impaired all forms of life and livelihood. But a few months into it, the time that descended was more devastating a wave that engulfed us in a way that we saw Covid-19 very closely. All of us witnessed the loss of some and felt proud of some those who fought but did not succumb. But amid the darkness there were glimmers of euphoria and that of the academics. An academic year that ushered in uncertainty and unpredictability and the disease grew more menacing and rolling out of vaccination.

Amidst news of shortage of hospital beds and oxygen, a natural calamity Yash, worsened levels of poverty due to lockdown and mental stress, the batch of 2021 have fared all with their perseverance and resilience. KIIT Deemed to be University, which is well known for its student-friendliness, compassion and humanitarianism, stood by its students like a rock and anchored them to success in such testing times.

KIIT grew from strength to strength with indomitable passion and relentless endevour to help communities from an ordinary educational outfit to an Institution of Eminence. It has earned what it deserved, global acclaim and reputation in a very short period of time – ranked 30th among Indian universities (overall) by the London based Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2021 and 15th Rank in the General Engineering in the country, retaining its position among top institutions in India.  The list of the leaps it took is long and today KIIT is among a handful of Indian universities to enter the Asia University Rankings 2021 of Times Higher Education ranking and the only Deemed to be University from Odisha to make it to the enviable list. It is relevant to mention that KIIT was ranked at 251-300 in the THE World University Rankings- 2021. It is the first Indian University to achieve “Five Stars Rating” from the prestigious QS Star Ranking System.

KIIT has taken a series of initiatives right from the outbreak of the disease and has been at the forefront of Odisha’s war against the coronavirus. In one of the most significant measures in Odisha’s war against Covid-19, Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), a constituent of KIIT Deemed to be University, set up four ultramodern dedicated Covid hospitals with over 2000 beds with the support of the Govt. of Odisha, located in Bhubaneswar and in three tribal-dominated districts of Odisha.  The interventions which were model and philanthropic included the distribution of food materials and other essentials to over 3 lakh pandemic-hit people, including the marginalized people living in various slums and in distress. Cutting across barriers of class and community KIIT reached out to any who are needy and that too including animals who starved.

KIIT has been funding KISS that has been sending study materials, dress and generous amount of dry foods at the doorsteps every month for last one and a half year. In one of its kind gesture, KIIT has been providing free education to the children of the Covid deceased in Odisha. The facility will be available for two academic years: 2020-21 and 2021-22. KIIT & KISS have adopted and are taking care of about 100 such orphans and providing them monthly allowance ranging from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 10000, depending upon the family size. As and when the academic institutions reopen, they will be provided with free education and subsequently complete higher education in KIIT & KISS. We are also the only educational institutions in India to provide Rs. 5,00,000/- (Rupees Five lakhs) as a token of assistance to the family of employee (who has succumbed to Covid-19) in order to alleviate his/her hardships to a little extent. Besides, one eligible person from his/her family will be employed suitably in KIIT, KISS or KIMS depending upon his/her educational qualification. KIIT will provide free education to the eligible children of their family in KIIT.  

KIIT has immense contribution to Education, Healthcare, Sustainable Development, Literature and Culture, and more specifically Sports. KIIT Deemed to be University is the only varsity in India to have three of its students, (separate events) Ms. Dutee Chand, Mr. Shivpal Singh and Ms. C A Bhavani Devi represent in the same Olympics – Tokyo Olympics in 100m & 200m sprint, Javelin (Athletics) and Fencing (Sabre) events respectively. KIIT and KISS have produced over 5000 sportspersons playing at different zonal, state and international level.No argument should be enough to contest the reality that, KIIT Deemed to be University stands out as it is a student and parent friendly University. A humongous number, 30000 Students from all over India and 65 countries study here and find a home in the University, which is a melting pot of culture. KIIT is known for its excellent track record of placements since its inception. We have been able to achieve excellent placements for 2019-20 batch despite the pandemic being at its peak. Keeping up with our past trend, KIIT is on its way to achieve record placement for the 2021 graduating batch due to the dedicated efforts of our training and placement department. Our students have bagged 2500 single offers, 4000 multiple offers with the highest CTC of 30 Lakhs and an average of 6 lakhs. Even the School of Management has broken its previous records of placement. It wasn’t an easy task to accomplish given the circumstances – trimming company sizes and lay-offs.

It is the only University in India to have 22 Nobel laureates visiting campus and addressing the students. Over hundreds of collaborations made with universities far and wide across the globe have been facilitating student and faculty exchanges, research collaborations and membership in international associations for cooperation in raising standards of education around the globe and global visibility with an aim to make KIIT globally acclaimed Centre of Excellence in education, embracing Internationalization of Education. The students and staff have worked relentlessly to help reach KIIT at the position it is today. We hope that this pandemic subsides soon and our students come back to the campus. Meanwhile, we are recalibrating our campus to be prepared to welcome our students with all safety precautions and protocols in mind. For the batch graduating in 2021, it has been really disappointing that they could not come to the campus. We have tried to provide the most personal touch through use of technology and augmented reality this Convocation – 17th Convocation of KIIT Deemed to be University.

The 17th Convocation of KIIT Deemed to be University was graced by Prof. Jean-Marie Lehn, Noble Prize in Chemistry (1987), France who delivered the Convocation lecture. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan ji, Hon’ble Minister of Education and Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India presided as the Chief Guest. It is a matter of great pride that Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) received Honorary Doctorate of Letters (D.Litt. Honoris Causa). Shri Vallabh Bhanshali, Founder of ENAM group and Desh Apnayen Sahayog Foundation and Founder- Director, FLAME University was also conferred with Honoris Cause degree.

Addressing the graduating students, Union Minister, Shri Pradhan said, “You have acquired several skills that will help you to achieve milestones in the years ahead. While you strive for excellence, I hope you also measure that excellence in terms of outcomes which help achieve the greater common goal that positively impacts people less fortunate than you”. Dedicating the honour to her devotees, Amma said, “The most important thing to be developed through education is compassion towards our fellow beings. Amma heartily applauds Prof. Achyuta Samanta, Founder, KIIT & KISS as he has chosen to offer his humanitarian service in ‘Kalinga’, which is a soil of compassion”.  In his acceptance speech, Shri Vallabh Bhanshali said, Prof. Achyuta Samanta has set a high bar in achievement, empathy and commitment. No human quality is greater than gratitude, he stated, while suggesting students cultivate this quality.”

To the Class of 2021, I completely understand that last thing that you want to hear right now is Stay Home. But still, one can be close to home and near and dear ones, not physically but emotionally. I urge everyone to pursue every ambition and dream and embrace the responsibility to build this community – your priority.