Noted social entrepreneur and founder of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) and KIIT Group of Institutions Achyuta Samanta received the prestigious Gusi Peace Prize for 2014 in Manila, Philippines on November 26, 2014 amidst a galaxy of luminaries, comprising of presidents, prime ministers, distinguished scientists, philanthropists and thousands of invited guests from all over the world.
Samanta is the lone Indian among 15 laureates who received the prestigious award this year, conferred by the Philippines-based awarding body Gusi Peace Prize International, considered as ‘Asia’s Nobel Peace Prize’. Samanta is the third Indian and the first from Odisha conferred with the award.
He was given the prize for his yeoman contributions in “poverty alleviation through education and humanitarianism”. The citation recognizes his outstanding contribution in the field of education and for his humanitarian efforts to uplift the socially and economically marginalized children through education.
Samanta has been relentlessly working for the uplift of the poorest of the poor indigenous aborigine community in Odisha for the last two and a half decades. His passion to provide a level playing field to this most neglected section of the society led him to establish Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), a free residential institute for 22,500 tribal children. He also founded KIIT, a group of professional institutes, to support this social enterprise.
KISS has received worldwide recognition as an effective model for empowerment of indigenous aborigine people through education. His model is now being replicated in many states of India as well as abroad. “KISS plans to educate 2,00,000 underprivileged indigenous children within the next 10 years”, said Samanta in his acceptance speech, while expressing gratitude to the awarding body for the honour.
The other recipients of Gusi Peace Prize this year, besides Samanta, are: Dr. Hans Koechler from AUSTRIA, Dr. Atiur Rahman from BANGLADESH, Dr. Manson Fok from CHINA, Prof. Virima Mudogo from CONGO, Hon. Dominique Hoppe from FRANCE, Prof. Gerhard Bringmann from GERMANY, Hon. Parviz Pargari from IRAN, Dr. Luigi Pellegrini from ITALY, Prof. Yoshinory Asakawa from JAPAN, Former President Vytautas Landsbergis from LITHUANIA, Hon. Bhojraj Pokharel from NEPAL, Sen. Cynthia a. Villar from PHILIPPINES, Dr. Kazimierz Glowniak from POLAND and Hon. Saad Nahar Al-Baddah Almutairi from KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA.
Gusi Peace Prize International is an international award given annually to some great individuals who have distinguished themselves as brilliant exemplars of society. The selection process for Gusi is both complex and rigorous. After a scrutiny and a process that continues for over a year, the jury members consisting of distinguished persons from all over the world agree on a few members and the final decision is then taken by the Award committee in its annual session held in the USA. The list of awardees is duly approved by the Philippine’s Senate.
Earlier on the day of the event laureates laid wreaths at the Manila Memorials with the National Flags of the countries of the respective recipients fluttering high up in the air. In a glittering presentation ceremony later on the day, the credentials of the recipients of the award were presented following playing of the national anthem of the countries of the respective recipients.