India: KIIT at the Frontline of Odisha’s War Against Coronavirus

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Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), Bhubaneswar and its sister institution Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), moved by the compassionate vision of its Founder, Prof. Achyuta Samanta, have always responded swiftly to reduce the suffering of people at the time of natural calamities. This time also, right from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been doing its bit to reach out to the worst-affected.

KIIT Deemed to be University, which has been recognized as an Institution of Eminence by the Govt. of India, has 30,000 students from all parts of India and over 50 countries. Another 30,000 underprivileged students study in KISS, the world’s largest fully-free fully-residential institute exclusively for tribal students. Anticipating the problem early, all the students of KIIT and KISS were safely sent back to their homes well before India declared the nationwide lockdown. But they did not face any academic loss. KIIT was the first university to begin online classes, maintaining the academic calendar perfectly. Similarly, e-Learning classes through Kalinga TV are being conducted for KISS students, who are also in constant touch with their teachers through WhatsApp groups.

Involving its students, KISS launched ‘Project Uday’, a massive awareness campaign on social distancing, proper use of mask, hand washing and respiratory hygiene in six aspirational districts of Odisha: Rayagada, Malkangiri, Koraput, Kandhamal, Balangir, and Gajapati. More than 500 volunteers are involved in the project covering 220 villages.

In one of the most significant measure in Odisha’s war against Covid-19, Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), the medical wing of KIIT, set up India’s first standalone COVID-19 hospital, a 500-bedded ultramodern facility including 50 critical care beds, with the support of the Govt. of Odisha. KIIT has also set up three 200-bedded COVID-19 hospitals, one each in Kandhamal, Balangir and Mayurbhanj districts of Odisha. The quick turnaround time in setting up the dedicated Covid Hospitals has received much praise.

Another constituent of KIIT, KIIT-Technology Business Incubator (KIIT-TBI) under KIIT School of Biotechnology, has been recognised as a Centre for Augmenting War with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India, along with other eminent institutes in India, including IITs. KIIT-TBI is responsible for implementing this program in East & NE.

The Covid-19 pandemic is not only a global health emergency, it has also caused a grave humanitarian crisis due to prolonged lockdowns and loss of livelihoods for millions. In a unique humanitarian gesture, KIIT Deemed to be University has decided to provide free education to the children of the Covid deceased in Odisha. The facility will be available for two academic years: 2020-21 and 2021-22.     

In a mammoth community service response, KIIT reached out to various groups facing hardship due to the extended lockdown. The intervention includes distribution of food materials and other essentials to over 3 lakh pandemic-hit people, which included the disadvantaged people living in various slums, stranded migrant labourers, who were also provided temporary shelter, and people living in containment zones. KIIT also took the initiative to deliver cooked food to police personnel on duty, who were diligently enforcing the lockdown in Bhubaneswar, Puri and Cuttack. KISS worked closely with the American Embassy in the evacuation of personnel who were stuck in Odisha and other adjoining areas. It also distributed feminine hygiene products to women and girls in all the districts of Odisha.

Other community outreach activities include assistance to several spiritual centres in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri and nearby towns. Food materials and cash to meet other expenses for three months were provided to priests and other people who maintain the shrines. KIIT has reached out to the Tibetan population in Chandragiri and Padmasambhava Monastery in Jiranga, a Tibetan settlement area in Eastern Odisha, providing them supplies to tide over the crisis. It has adopted two old age homes in Chandragiri, while KIMS is also supporting a hospital in Jiranga and has provided PPE to the health workers. Besides, KIIT & KISS are providing groceries and cash for miscellaneous expenses to over 40 orphanages, old age homes and leprosy centres in Kandhamal district.

As all types of sporting events remain suspended, sportspersons are also hard hit by the pandemic. KIIT is supporting prominent sportspersons of Odisha with generous allowances and motivating them to maintain their peak fitness level.

Reaching the unreached, KIIT & KISS extended a helping hand to the red light areas and physically challenged people in Bhubaneswar. Groceries and other essentials were provided to the needy. KIIT, KISS, Sakha and Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives came together to distribute ration and essential items for the transgender community in Bhubaneswar, Rayagada and a few other districts of Odisha. KIIT and KISS even set up a team to source and distribute fruits, vegetables, biscuits and other food materials to animals like monkeys, cattle and dogs, in and around the campus. It has adopted 140 peacocks in Bhubaneswar is taking care of these beautiful birds and providing financial assistance to more than 10 ‘Goshalas’ in Puri, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

“COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious global health crisis of our times and also the toughest humanitarian challenge. It has extracted a huge human toll, besides causing big setbacks to the economy. Our efforts are a drop in the ocean and aim to bring smiles on the faces of as many people as we can touch. But, I am sure, together, we will overcome this crisis also”, Prof. Samanta added.

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