The Judd Wave


WE HAVE time and again writ­ten about Dr Achyuta Sa­manta’s undy­ing and price­less con­tri­bu­tion to the poor­est of the poor tribal chil­dren through his in­sti­tu­tion in Bhubaneswar, the Kalinga In­sti­tute of So­cial Sciences (KISS). And, just when we seem to for­get, he makes sure to re­mind us that no ser­vice is greater than the ser­vice to hu­man­ity, in­deed. He has been con­tin­u­ing his mis­sion to em­power more than 30,000 tribal chil­dren and in­te­grate them with the main­stream pop­u­la­tion by im­part­ing them free ed­u­ca­tion (KG to PG) and life skills, apart from board­ing and lodg­ing through KISS, the world’s big­gest tribal school. Mean­while, in 2008, they ini­ti­ated the KISS Hu­man­i­tar­ian Award to recog­nise and fe­lic­i­tate in­di­vid­u­als for their ex­em­plary and distin­guished ser­vice to hu­man­ity across the globe. Just like KISS has be­come in­ter­na­tion­ally vis­i­ble de­spite be­ing in the quaint city of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, the award too has gained in­ter­na­tional ac­claim be­cause of its glo­ri­ous past re­cip­i­ents. Some of them be­ing Madam Edna Bomo Molewa, for­mer premier of North-west­ern state of South Africa and the Min­is­ter of So­cial Jus­tice and Em­pow­er­ment, Anerood Jug­nauth, Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Mau­ri­tius, Ly­onch­hen Jig­miy Thin­ley, Prime Min­is­ter of Bhutan and Anne Mar­garet Fager­tun Sten­ham­mer, Re­gional Di­rec­tor of UN Women for South Asia. This year’s re­cip­i­ent, how­ever, took the cake. For, one saw none other than the ac­tress cum so­cial ac­tivist, the daz­zling Ash­ley Judd, de­scend upon Bhubaneswar to re­ceive the award. Now, we all know that Ash­ley Judd is an ac­claimed ac­tor, but few know that she is also a writer, and the United Na­tions Pop­u­la­tion Fund’s (UNFPA) Good­will Am­bas­sador. For the unini­ti­ated, Judd’s ini­tial hu­man­i­tar­ian work re­volved around AIDS in Africa. She is strongly com­mit­ted to the cause of so­cial jus­tice, poverty erad­i­ca­tion and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, be­sides be­ing a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate of the rights of the girl child and women and is fight­ing to end gen­der based vi­o­lence. Mean­while, it was a pleas­ant and heart warm­ing scene to see the glam­orous lady of sub­stance min­gle with the chil­dren of the school with­out any af­fec­ta­tion. She re­ceived the award amidst sev­eral na­tional and in­ter­na­tional lu­mi­nar­ies and great fan­fare. We couldn’t stop no­tice how com­fort­able the ac­tress and hu­man­i­tar­ian looked in an eth­nic mauve sari when we can’t say the same for too many of our own ladies. Smil­ing all along, she was truly a sym­bol of grace, dig­nity and giv­ing. That she was pleased with her award and her visit to KISS was clear, con­sid­er­ing how Twit­ter-happy she had got­ten about her ex­pe­ri­ences. She is the per­fect am­bas­sador for KISS too, we feel.

...Dr Achyuta Sa­manta with Ash­ley Judd and guests

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