Achyuta Samanta
Founder, KIIT, KISS,
Kadambini, Kalinga TV & Nilimarani Memorial Charitable Trust (NMCT)

Cities and urban areas always remained the centers of socio-political activities in Pre-Independence India. The villages neither had the scope nor received any attention from the king and feudal lords of yesteryears to grow. Devoid of all the civic amenities and pushed to the brink of poverty, the villages and the villagers never ever had the quality of life enjoyed by the cities and the city folks. Despite all their inputs towards the economy, the villages continued to remain in utter negligence, for there was no identity of hundreds of thousand voiceless people living in the villages. In one such obscure village, Kalarabank, I was born to a mother who grew up in comfort during her youth to raise me in abject poverty. Call it destiny or irony of fate; my mother Nilimarani Samanta, despite being born to wealthy parents was thrown into the darkness of poverty when death struck to my father to shatter the dreams of each one of my seven siblings. Though crest – fallen and dejected, my mother had a Herculean task ahead to raise her young children all by herself.

It was impossible and it could never have happened that all her children could be so well placed in the society unless my mother was a sibyl. I did not realize then while walking in the dusty and muddy roads of the village to reach the school, 4 to 6 kms away from home as to what made my mother to show everyone that she was brimful of energy but today I realize that in her frail body she had a frame of steel which could never be withered by the onslaught of desolation and despair. It was her determination and it was her hope, she successfully instilled in me to drive the slough away. Each and every action of my mother looks today as an indicator of her plans for the future, a future she dreamed not for herself but for the village she was born in, she was married in and the village she left to be with her husband who has been waiting for her in the heaven.

While walking the muddy roads, accompanying her to collect wild spinach and drinking gruels of the husked broken rice, I wished to wave a magic wand to transform my village to a Utopia where everything would be perfectly placed. I desired the village roads to be like those of the cities, the hospital to take care of the health of the villagers, the school at the doorstep and many such facilities but I had no means then. I consoled myself remembering; If wishes are horses then beggars could ride. It was like me enacting David versus Goliath enacted by my hapless situation. After the establishment of KIIT and KISS, my mother urged me to remember my
childhood and make the village, a place to live with every possible comfort of a city. She wanted me to develop the village. She reminded me how I, as a child, almost lost one of my eyes had the people not taken me to the medical college hospital in Cuttack city. She pressed me every time I went to my village to make it a Model village where people can live without running to cities for some basic facility.

My mother's continuous insistence made me to develop my village with the help of KIIT and my well wishers. I started the work but she was the force behind everything. She was there to guide the people engaged in this. It was her zeal and her blessings that the face of Kalarabank changed. The transformation from a small primary school to a Residential High School, Residential English Medium School, +2 Science College was not slow but in keeping pace with the time. Today the village has a cluster of 15 temples, Community halls for people to assemble, Youth club and a Library cum Reading Room. With government assistance, the village could
have a Post Office, a Police Out Post, Connecting Roads under Prime Minister Gramya Sadak Yojana, Nationalized bank with ATM and locker facilities, Drinking water and street lights. With the active help from KIIT, the village has Wi-Fi connection, a 100 bedded hospital, a Knowledge Centre and periodic health camps, Self Help Group and almost everything a small township could aspire for.

When everything was put in its place, His Excellency the Governor of Odisha, Late Rameswar Thakur came along with a Cabinet Minister of Bihar Shri Ashwani Choubey to inaugurate and declare Kalarabank a Model Village on 5th June, 2006. The journey did not stop there. He wanted us to develop the entire Panchayat as a Model Panchayat. It was like his tacit support to my mother's desire. I worked with my mother's blessings and today all the five villages of Manpur Panchayat are proud units of a model Panchayat.

Nilimarani Samanta was a very kind-hearted lady. It was her selfless desire to help the fellow human beings. She was instrumental in changing the face of Kalarabank Village and Manapur Panchayat in transforming the obscure Kalarabank to a smart village and the Panchayat a Model one with huge investment. She never asked for anything for her own comfort. The very old house stands as a testimony to her simplicity and her struggle. The house where she raised her children bears her memory, but never ever she wanted another house for herself. She did not want to build a new house, nor did she insist on having any landed property for her own and the family. She had no land of her own and she often used to purchase rice regularly. This was obviously a manifestation of her simplicity and greatness.

I miss you Maa, and I will miss you for the rest of my life.