I am confident about India’s recovery

Prof. Achyuta Samanta, founder, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology

THE COVID-19 pandemic played havoc around the globe, virtually bringing a halt to multifarious activities including the functioning of schools, colleges and universities, both at major educational hubs and campuses and in small towns and villages.

“It adversely affected higher education around the world,” remarks Prof Achyuta Samanta, founder, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) Deemed to be University, with 30,000 students from all over India and 55 countries, and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), one of the largest free residential KG-PG institute for 50,000 tribal children, among other institutes. “It has affected most other sectors as well.”

Fortunately, most of the university students in Odisha, especially those living in remote rural areas, could continue with their studies thanks to interactive sessions that were organised. “Right from the start of the crisis last March we had online classes for our students,” says Prof Samanta. “Initially, the faculty members and the students appeared demotivated, but consistent efforts on our part saw the faculty getting motivated. They then urged the students to adapt new technology.”

The results are evident at the campus placements, where 100 per cent students from one batch got jobs, while in the case of technology students, 80 per cent were recruited at these interviews.

Prof Samanta is optimistic and hopeful that the Indian economy will revive very soon. “The Sensex has crossed the 50,000 mark, reflecting that the Indian economy is on the right path and will recover,” he adds. “I am confident that the coming months will see a revival of the economy and new investments flowing in. I also see many more international students getting enrolled in our varsities.”

Tracing his roots back to the early days, Prof Samanta, who lost his father when he was four and the family was pushed into abject poverty, recalls how he started the chain of institutions in a humble way in a rented house with less than $100 in assets. The KIIT Deemed to be University was recognised as an ‘Institution of Eminence (IoE) by the Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Indian government in 2019.

“Our main focus now is to enhance our international rankings and to compete with global universities,” explains Prof Samanta, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kandhamal constituency in Odisha. “We want to maintain our standards of high quality and excellence in teaching and research.”

Work on starting branches of KISS in different parts of Odisha has begun. KISS has also been operating in Delhi since 2013. Other institutions in the group include the Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences, a medical college with a 2,500-bed hospital and other allied institutes like Dental and Nursing Colleges; KIIT International School (with International Baccalaureate affiliation), Kadambini Media Pvt Ltd (for promoting art, literature, and culture); and Kalinga TV Pvt. Ltd, a 24×7 news channel, which since 2000 of ‘Nanhi Pari,’ a Little Miss India competition to identify and nurture young talent.