Experiences shape a man. The ones in childhood impact him the most. A child’s upbringing, the nurturing of his dreams and the fulfilment of his innocent desires by his parents shape his future. But I never had the luxury to enjoy the pleasures of childhood, nor did I have any dreams to fulfil. I did not have anyone to hear me out and was guided by nature to emerge as a self-made person.
One day, in 1969, very early in the morning, at about 5 AM, when I was four years old, I could not understand why the members of my family suddenly burst into loud wails and looked crestfallen. Not knowing what to do, I looked inquiringly at their grief-stricken faces. Soon, I came to realise that my father had died, though the word death was beyond my understanding. My father had died in a tragic train accident leaving seven children and a widowed wife behind. The youngest child was about a month old and the oldest was 17 years. The deceased father was a petty worker in an industry and had left no savings for the eight-member family to survive on.
All the siblings had to grow up in the midst of severe poverty in a very remote village of Odisha in India. I did odd menial jobs here and there and helped my widowed mother to augment her income. I gave my mother solace by wiping her tears and I gave my little sister the comfort of a lap to sleep on. I helped the village folks by fetching groceries and provisions from the nearby market every now and then. I was self-educated amidst such crusading hardships.
At times, I slept without food. Once I ate a morsel of poha (flattened rice flakes) which was meant for my elder brother. My mother beat me for it. She mistakenly hurt my eyes and the mark has remained there forever.
After completion of my master’s degree in chemistry, I landed a teaching job in a local college.
I decided to quit the teaching job. I wanted to be an educator instead of a teacher. I had a dream of assisting the poor to get an education.
I ventured to set up two institutions with only ₹5000 in a rented building in 1992-93. Today, while one of these institutions has become the most promising university of the country with 27, 000 students from across the globe, the other institution has become the beauty of the world and home to 25,000 poor indigenous children of the country. It provides free education from kindergarten to post graduation, with free residential, boarding and healthcare facilities.
8,500 students have graduated from KISS with a job in hand and a decent life for their family thereafter. The small institute that started with only ₹5000 in 1992 has been instrumental in making 3 million people smile and looks forward to giving smiles to 10 million people by 2020.
Coming from such a background, establishing the world’s largest fully free educational institution for the indigenous population is an arduous journey laden with threats like societal rigidities, financial hardships and political challenges.
I am marching on this mission of providing a level playing field for the poorest of tribal children through holistic education, skill building, and life-skill empowerment singlehandedly, by devising a unique financial model of KISS being financed by the stakeholders of KIIT.
With my passionate endeavour for Kalarabanka, my own village became a model village in 2005 and today, it has all the amenities available in a city.The village cluster, which includes the village Kalarabanka, is also on its way to becoming a smart village cluster.
I love to live the simplest of lives in a two-room rented house without any personal property and have chosen to remain a bachelor. My only hobby is to bring smiles to the faces of thousands of poor children irrespective of caste, creed and religion. I give credit for all of my accomplishments in life to the “The Art of Giving”, which I have silently learnt since childhood.
I struggled for food for the first 25 years of my life, and now, my struggle is to provide food to millions of deprived and underprivileged children through KISS.