Every year 5th December is celebrated as International Day of Volunteers. On the occasion, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), being a pioneer institution in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals and volunteerism, organised a talk on ‘Youth Volunteerism and Sustainable Development Goals’ as a part of a week-long celebration. Ms. Shalina Miah, Regional Manager, Asia Pacific, United Nations Volunteers, Bangkok was invited as the Distinguished Invited Speaker on 7th December 2022. Ms. Gul Berry, Consultant, UNV India and Mr. Sushil Choudhury, Country Coordinator also graced the occasion.
In her lecture, Ms. Miah described KISS as an ideal embodiment of human solidarity, the ideal that lies at the heart of voluntarism. “The role of the youth of India is extremely important to drive positive change and sustainable development. Volunteerism strengthens civic engagement and social inclusion by raising awareness and championing positive changes. India, as home to one fifths of the youth of the world, stands on the cusp of a great opportunity”, she stated.
She also noted a welcome change in the composition of international volunteers. Earlier, volunteers from the global north usually served in the global south. More recently, however, the number of young volunteers from the global south has grown appreciably. She concluded with an emphasis on the idea of global solidarity. It is not time anymore to wait for change. This world of unprecedented challenges needs everyone to be a part of the unfolding change, Ms. Miah concluded. She also responded to various queries from students about the power and prospects of volunteerism.
Speaking on the occasion, Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice Chancellor, KISS-DU, presented a brief profile of the institution, and an account of the various initiatives towards fulfilling the SDG goals. Referring to holistic multidisciplinary education and responsible and sustainable consumption as twin ideals of the university, he alluded to the work of the Chancellor, who is a globally renowned authority on climate change. The Vice Chancellor referred to a report currently under preparation on how all the seventeen SDG goals are reflected in the course curriculum and various MoUs concluded with various Indian and foreign institutes and Universities, along with UN bodies.
Mr. Apratim Tiwari, Assistant Director, Academics, KISS made a presentation on various SDG initiatives at KISS. Stating that KISS is committed to an ideal of holistic and sustainable education, he referred to various programmes in relation to gender, hunger, and healthcare. Finally, he listed several recent volunteerism-based activities by KISS and KISS-DU students and teachers, such as blood donation, revision of electoral rolls, Swachh Bharat campaigns, culminating in a series of activities during the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Dr. Prashanta Kumar Routray, Registrar, KISS-DU characterized the grassroots initiatives of the Founder, Dr. Achyuta Samanta, over the last thirty years, including KISS, its satellite centres, or turning his native village, Kalarabanka into a smart village, as a translation of the SDG in action, long before the idea was coined. He concluded by exhorting the students to boldly take up more voluntary activities and contribute to society and gather useful exposure and experience in the days ahead.