Today, I had been to Kalarabanka, my native village for Asta Prahari ceremony. As I see the development of my village, I get transported into the lanes of nostalgia. When I look back, it just seems like yesterday when I took on the journey of transforming my native village into a model village, inspired by my mother to give back to motherland. I still remember Maa would request me not for her personal aggrandisement or amassing wealth for thr family but for the village by ensuring that it has some amenities to make the lives of our villagers easy. Those days KIIT and KISS were just struggling and the additional burden of recalibrating my village was putting tremendous pressure on me but I had the willingness to act as a catalyst of change for Kalarabanka.

KIIT has a distinction being the first University in India that has promoted the concept of Model Village to contribute to Rural Development as early as 2000, just after three years of its inception as a University. KIIT transformed an obscure village in Odisha from negligence to the position of prominence.
My mother’s continuous insistence made me develop a Kalarabanka with the help of KIIT and its well-wishers.  The primary school was transformed into residential High School and residential English Medium School. 15 temples, community halls, Post Office, Police Outpost, connecting roads, Nationalized banks with ATMs and locker facilities, clean drinking water, streetlights were installed to bring city comforts to the village. With the help of KIIT University, the village got Wi-Fi, a 100 bedded dispensary, a knowledge center and Self-help groups for women to get sustenance and providing employment to more than 1000 people. People who see it only believe it. They get astonished at this achievement.

In 2006, the then Governor of Odisha, Late Rameshwar Thakur inaugurated and declared it as Model Village. The journey did not stop there. After making Kalarabanka as a model village, the entire gram Panchayat of Manpur, in Cuttack district of Odisha, consisting of 5 villages has been made the model Panchayat by extending common facilities and amenities. This is the first Panchayat in the country to be developed as a model Panchayat. In 2016, the model village was transformed into a smart village – fully WiFi, Eco Friendly and Solar.  Amenities surpass the facilities in the modern-day city. Digital Literacy, sanitation, solid and liquid waste management, upgraded health and school infrastructure, public transport have been the cardinal features of my village today. I am happy that standard of living of the people of village has risen.

I strongly believe that if India has to prosper, its villages have to prosper and that is possible if we concentrate on building smart villages before smart cities. It is very difficult to usher in development, that too in villages but with our sincerity, intention of doing good and walking together by taking all into confidence, we have been able to create a precedent that is appreciated and recognised by one and all.