Dubai: Prominent educationist, philanthropist and social worker from the eastern Indian state of Odisha, Dr Achyuta Samanta, hopes to support the education of the children of expat workers in the UAE.
Known for providing free, residential school education to thousands of indigenous tribal children in his home state, Dr Samanta, who is also a member of the Indian Parliament, expressed his desire to contribute to the education of Indian expat blue-collar workers during his recent visit to Dubai.
He was here to take part in ‘India Dialogues’, a flagship talk series arranged by the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) and another interactive session organised by the Consul General of India in Dubai, Dr Aman Puri.
Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the events, Dr Samanta said the idea of supporting the workers’ children stemmed from a CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] proposal by IBPC Chairman Suresh Kumar.
While the IBPC wanted to explore the opportunity of upskilling the blue-collar Indian workers here with the support of Dr Samanta’s foundation, Dr Samanta said he could support the higher education of some of their children back home.
“I would like to explore the opportunities here, but that might take time. What we can do easily is to provide seats to some workers’ children to KIIT university based on their merit eligibility,” said Dr Samanta, the founder of the university.
KIIT or Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, is a non-profit, UGC-recognised private university in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The university has a diverse range of courses and programmes, which attract students from all over the country and abroad.
“We do provide support for the education of students at KIIT whose parents have died or those who are from very poor background,” said Dr Samanta.
While KIIT offers professional education for more than 30,000 students from all over India and 65 other countries, another educational institution founded by Dr Samanta, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), is said to be the largest tribal institute in the world. The residential campus provides food, accommodation, health care and all the basic necessities of life free to 30,000 tribal children to pursue their studies from KG to PG.
“KISS is a home for 60,000 indigenous children including 30,000 graduates, absolutely free,” said Dr Samanta.
In the 26th edition of the India Dialogues, Dr Samanta was in conversation with the IBPC chairman. “We have featured thought leaders, philanthropists, intellectuals, national leaders of importance in various fields ranging from technology and social service. We aim to share their insights through these thought-provoking sessions,” said Kumar.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Puri said Dr Samanta has inspired millions of people to achieve their true potential and to contribute meaningfully in society.
Recollecting his first experience of visiting the KITT and KISS campuses, Dr Puri said: “I could not believe my eyes that one individual could impact so many lives. This is not a large corporate group, which is creating an educational institution with wealth from another vertical and putting it into education. But this is the journey of one individual who had very little opportunity, and grew up in very difficult circumstances, with scarcity all around. It is the story of millions of our Indian brothers and sisters. Even today, millions of young Indians are yearning to get an opportunity to study to make something of themselves and to become productive members of the society. Dr Samanta is truly an inspiration for all of them.”
Born in a poor family in a remote village in Odisha, Dr Samanta lost his father at the age of four. He had to struggle for food and education for 15 years. However, he persevered and got a job as a teacher at the age of 22. With just Rs5,000 in his pocket, he started KIIT and KISS in two rented houses. Today, these institutions are beacons of hope and have won several national and international accolades. “Every staff member donates three per cent of their gross salary to KISS,” said Dr Samanta.
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Besides education and tribal upliftment, Dr Samanta has also contributed immensely to art, culture, literature, film, media, spirituality and rural development.
He has made contributions to sports through his educational institutions,through which he has nurtured nine Olympians, created sport infrastructure and promoted sportspersons.
His humanitarian efforts have touched countless lives. Despite all his achievements and accolades and access to luxuries, Dr Samanta said he leads a simple life and remains a bachelor with no assets in his name.
Having dedicated his life to uplift the marginalised sections of the society, Dr Samanta believes education is the sole panacea for all the afflictions of the underprivileged people.
“If you are educated, all other problems can be sorted out,” he said during the ‘In Conversation’ session with Bollywood actor and entrepreneur Vivek Oberoi. It was organised by Dr Puri at the India House, the Consul General’s residence.