(A Legendary Life with a Divine Mission)
Proving everybody wrong once again that one needs to be opulent in order to be able to help others, the prolific social architect Achyuta Samanta’s life affirms that one needs a good heart only to help others. If one is sincere, dedicated, makes sacrifices and stays committed one would overcome any obstacle in life to achieve impossible goals. Achyuta Samanta, who has neither any self-interest nor any personal agenda, has made his mark in leveraging education for poverty eradication, elimination of social alienation, rural development (Smart Village Development), socio-economic transformation, and world peace. The story of Achyuta Samanta is also a tale of overcoming heart-rending struggles in rising from the abyss of poverty to becoming a social architect and a messiah for millions of people. He chose the path of self-sacrifice and social service early in life and embarked in 1992 on a social development strategy that has been vindicated today, two and half decades later, by global leaders’ strategy for global development- the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Achyuta Samanta was born in an economically struggling family and lost his father at the age of four which plunged the whole family into poverty and starvation. Enduring profound grief of seven young siblings and a widowed mother as together they struggled for survival, the child Achyuta helped his widow mother while she worked as a menial worker, collected garden litter, pounded parboiled rice and did other menial jobs, did errands for the fellow villagers, tilled lands and grew vegetables and sold them in faraway markets but took every opportunity to educate him that transformed his life later. His story is nothing less than log-cabin-to-the-white house saga of Abraham Lincoln.
Inspired by his life’s struggle for survival that led to his realization- “Poverty creates illiteracy and literacy eradicates poverty”, Achyuta Samanta committed to live a life of self-sacrifice and to act as the medium to eradicate the ills faced by the deprived children using education as the vehicle of social transformation. Achyuta Samanta, after a brief stint as an academic following completion of his Masters in Chemistry (1987), started in a very modest scale the two institutions: KIIT and KISS with a paltry sum of 100USD which he had saved penny by penny for the purpose.
KIIT, starting initially in a rented building, now stands over 400 acres with 13 million sq. ft. of aesthetically built up area. It has become the most promising university in India with “A” category status granted by the Ministry of Human Resources, Government of India. With visibility that has spread across the globe, the university today enjoys the trust of over 27000 scholars from around the world. KIIT today has also created indirect and subsidiary employment opportunities for a million of people besides direct employment to ten thousand people apart from supporting the philanthropic initiative, KISS.
Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) was started as a protégé of KIIT in 1992-93. KISS with over 25000 students today has become the world’s largest residential institute for the indigenous (Scheduled Tribe) children providing free education from Kindergarten to post-graduation along with livelihood sustaining vocational and life skills, with free lodging, boarding, comprehensive healthcare, and all other amenities that has been facilitating their wholesome growth and complete transformation from social liabilities to social assets, thereby fulfilling SDGs in letter and spirit. KISS has been kindling peace and progressive spirit in the tribal hinterland of Odisha beleaguered by Naxalite insurgence. KISS has created two Guinness World Records recently. Earlier KIIT and KISS have attained 4 Limca Book Records.
KISS, which has been recently granted “Special Consultative Status” by the United Nations, is being replicated elsewhere in collaboration with various governments and Corporate. A clone of KISS, KISS-Delhi, established in collaboration with the Government of Delhi, has been operating successfully. Achyuta Samanta’s “New Mind New Dream” aims at establishing one KISS clone each in 20 districts of Odisha and other state capitals of India. A branch of KISS has been operating successfully in New Delhi.
Achyuta Samanta’s vision encompasses rural development. With single hand initiative he transformed his native village Kalarabanka, which became a Model Village in 2005. The village has all city amenities: Schools (Primary to High School in regional and English medium), library, post-office, banking facilities, hospital, telephone booth with internet facility, community spiritual centres, self-help groups, police outpost, all weather road connectivity, street-lighting, etc. Development of this village has also triggered developments of the entire cluster of neighboring villages and this cluster of villages- Manapur Panchayat is well on its way to be a Smart Panchayat.
Achyuta Samanta has also been promoting growth of arts, culture, literature, films and media, and spiritualism in his bid to bring about a holistic change in the human society. A good heart indeed touches every sphere of human living.
50-year old Achyuta Samanta, an icon of simplicity, modesty and transparency, absorbed in his profound epiphany- Art of Giving and Art of Appreciation, and campaigns like India against Negativity and KOMPASSIONS, has been relentlessly spreading the message of peace and universal brotherhood.
Undaunted by 45 years of struggle-full life, Achyuta Samanta, who has been widely decorated world-wide with coveted awards and Honorary Degrees, remains a classic saga of “Domestic help boy next door to a Gusi Laureate”, and continues his legendary messianic march for a world sans hunger and deprivation with indomitable effort, incessant hard work, unlimited patience and endowed with abundant divine blessings.