I feel extremely humbled and exultant when I see Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) that started as a small seedling has grown into a gigantic tree providing shade and holding roots for millions. It’s story of growth from 125 students in 1992-93 and scale of transformation is beyond my imagination. As a common man, when I laid the foundation of KISS, I had no idea that it would grow exponentially, impact considerably and revolutionise the paradigm of education for tribal boys and girls with adherence to its core belief – Education empowers.

Focussing on its formula of 3E – Enable, Educate and Empower, KISS is a residential educational institution providing free education, accommodation,medical care, vocational, athletic & artistic training to 60,000 indigenous children. The students come from 62 different tribal groups within the region, of which 13 are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). Of these, 30,000 students study at the main campus in Bhubaneswar. It has a strong alumni base of 30,000 empowered boys and girls and soon over 10,000 students will study at 10 satellite centres of KISS across Odisha. KISS has indirectly impacted over a million tribal children and youth.

In its course of existence for over 30 years, KISS has arrested dropouts, child marriage, gender based harassment, left wing extremism, proselytization, ignorance and superstition on a massive scale with its peaceful intervention through education and empowerment. It has promoted awareness on importance of education, girl child empowerment, upskilling and vocational empowerment, entrepreneurship and collaboration with the tribal communities as caretakers of the ecosystem and nature and fulfilling its SDGs.

For it’s impeccable record, KISS became the first exclusive tribal Deemed to be University in 2017 – a status given by Ministry of erstwhile Human Resource Development, Government of India. With its growth, I always aspired for University status for KISS to raise its credibility as an institution committed to research for tribal studies by tribal scholars. KISS has also recieved international recognition and support. Since 2015, it has been accorded Special Consultative Status by UN-ECOSOC. It has also worked in collaboration of many UN agencies and organs like UNFPA, UNEP, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women, US Consulate and so on on various capacity building projects and it’s implementation. It has recieved profound appreciation from Nobel Laureates, Legal Luminaries, Academicians, Policymakers, Statesman, Writers and celebrities who visit KISS and feel so after an immersive experience. KISS has also institutionalised KISS Humanitarian Award for awarding men and women of distinction for their service to humanity.

For the achievements of KISS and helping it take a leap , a very distinguished panel has joined KISS Deemed to be University at the helm of affairs. Mr. Satya S. Tripathi has joined as the  Chancellor. He was the former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Other distinguished members in the panel of leadership are – Dr. Upendra Tripathy, (IAS) retd. as Pro Chancellor, Dr. Deepak Behera as Vice Chancellor, Dr. Pitabasa Sahoo as Pro Vice Chancellor, Dr. Kanhu Charan Mahali as Director General. Under their tenure, KISS Deemed to be University will certainly scale new heights in terms of student achievements, research, collaboration and academic excellence.

The first is always special, and so is the first convocation of KISS Deemed to be University on 27 June 2021. The ceremony will be held in a hybrid mode – both physical and virtual taking into consideration the Covid-19 protocols. 143 students will get degrees for completing their Masters and M.phil courses successfully. The brightest and the most promising graduates will be conferred with Founder’s Gold Medal, Chancellor’s Gold and Vice Chancellor’s Silver medal at the ceremony.

The virtual ceremony will be graced by people’s Governor, most affable, Prof. Ganeshi Lal, Hon’ble Governor of Odisha who will be conferred with Honoris Causa, Doctor of Letters at the first convocation of KISS Deemed to be University. The other Honoris Causa degree recipients, odia men of high standing, achievements and accolades are Shri Girish Chandra Murmu, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, pride of tribals, Odisha and India, Hon. Swarup Ranjan Mishra, Member of Parliament for Kesses Constituency, Kenya and Founding Chairman, Mediheal Group of Hospitals, Kenya and Mr. Bibhu Mohapatra, Fashion Designer and Costume Designer, New York. On this historic ocassion, I express my heartfelt gratitude to all the stakeholders of KIIT for their unflinching support. I would like to express my thanks to all the well-wishers of KISS for their love, affection and belief in our cause. I owe a debt of gratitude to the staff and students of KIIT and KISS for their untiring efforts to help KISS reach the level it is today.

KISS which started as an idea, turned into a revolution calling for creation of more prototypes, has always vouched to provide a local solution to a global problem. We envision the KISS Deemed to be University to stand as a think tank for tribal related issues of importance, to academically debate, discuss and critically analyse the tribal policies, laws, culture and importance and offer solutions to KISS for its continuous improvement in course of evolution in particular and to the wider society in general. And as Earnest Hemingway puts, ‘There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.’, KISS Deemed to be University will always evolve and improve with all humility in its strive towards excellence.