In a historic move, on 30th April 2022, KISS-DU formally inducted 14 outstanding indigenous knowledge practitioners from pristine tribal backgrounds as Professors of Practice (PoP). Even though they hold little or no formal education, their mastery over various domains of indigenous knowledge and practice has long been recognized. As Professors of Practice, they will be entrusted with the responsibility to educate the tribal students and research scholars in their respective domain expertise from time to time.

The initiative carries forward, in an innovative form, the foundational commitment of KISS and KISS-DU, to protect, preserve, and promote tribal cultural diversity. It is hoped that with the formal recognition of leading practitioners of indigenous knowledge traditions as Professors of Practice, the students of KISS-DU will be encouraged to develop an active interest in their traditional value system. Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice-Chancellor of KISS-DU, a renowned anthropologist himself, earlier came up with this innovative concept. Dr. Achyuta Samanta, Founder, KIIT & KISS had since supported the initiative with his approval and enthusiastic promotion.

Earlier, all the 14 Professors of Practice (PoP) were greeted with a traditional music and dance performance by the student troupe trained under the able guidance of the Cultural Wing of the University. They were ceremonially welcomed with a song in the Kui language, celebrating indigenous rights and calling upon all indigenous people to take pride in their identity.

In his presidential remarks, Dr. Achyuta Samanta explained the rationale behind implementing the concept of Professors of Practice at KISS-DU. He said even though KISS had been offering education to indigenous children for the last 30 years, it was only after anointing the masters of indigenous knowledge traditions as professors that its dedication to the cause of preservation and promotion of indigenous knowledge attained completeness. The conferment of the title of ‘Professor of Practice’ was recognition of their lifetime achievements, their unparalleled knowledge, wisdom and their contribution and dedication to indigenous art forms and culture.

Shri Satya Sundar Tripathi, Chancellor, KISS-DU celebrated the indigenous communities as the first citizens and the Professors of Practice as custodians of foundational knowledge about earth and sustainability.  He appreciated the efforts of the University functionaries to adopt this unique method to educate the students of this university in extracurricular and co-curricular aspects. Shri R.N. Das, IAS (Retd.), Secretary, KISS & KIIT, coined an Odia phrase-Sukarma Dhanya Adhyapaka-for the position of Professor of Practice, arguing that the positions celebrating indigenous knowledge must also bear an ingenious title.

Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice-Chancellor, KISS-DU, spoke on various aspects of the concept, highlighting its promises and potential. Requesting the Professors of Practice to teach the students indigenous wisdom, he hoped that such interaction would encourage the students to develop a stronger association with their traditions and heritage. The teaching would include Saura painting, Dhemsa dance, Tribal languages and other traditional indigenous knowledge. Furthermore, he said that the professors would share their treasure troves of knowledge with more than 30,000 indigenous students of KISS and KISS-DU to help keep alive the intangible heritage of their indigenous communities. Professor Behera shared the efforts and initiatives undertaken by Dr. Acyuta Samanta for the tribal students and the communities as a whole.

Dr. Kanhu Charan Mahali, Director-General KISS-DU, introduced the newly inducted 14 Professors of Practice, outlining their domain of expertise: Smt. Gurubari Shisha – Gadaba Dance (Dhemsa); Smt. Laxmi Sabar – Saura Painting (Idital) and Traditional Healing; Shri Pabitra Patra – Herbal Medicine; Smt. Sindhe Wadaka – Dongaria Kondh Shawl Weaving (Kapadagandh); Shri Laxman Sabar – Saura Painting (Idital); Smt. Sambari Sisha – Bonda Ethnic Costume; Shri Dakhina Murmu – Santal Dance (Danta); Shri Limbadhar Majhi – Kutia Kondh Music; Shri Kanda Charan Naik – Ho Language (Warang Chiti); Shri Hari Juang – Juang Dance (Changu); Shri Masuram Gond – Gond Dance (Dandar / Rela Rela); Shri Kuda Naik – Bathudi Folk Narrative; Shri Some Toppo – Oraon Dance (Karma) and Shri Sobharam Padhan – Kisan Dance  (Naadu Geetu).

Some of the Professors of Practice shared their views, presenting a roadmap of how they will impart informal teaching to the students in their respective areas of expertise. Some among them briefly spoke about their pioneering work, thanking KISS-DU for the opportunity to interact with young students and for generous recognition of their work. Some of the Professor Emeriti also spoke on occasion, expressing happiness at the unconventional initiative.

The Founder, KISS & KIIT along with senior functionaries also unveiled three publications by members of the KISS faculty: proceedings of a conference titled ‘Inclusive Education: Need and Challenges’ under the auspices of the AURORA Centre, KISS-DU co-edited by Dr. Snigdharani Panda, Dr. Disha Bhatt, Ms. Saswati Jena and Mr.Bikram Bastia; ‘Teaching Handbook: A Creative Pedagogic Endeavour of KISS for Facilitating MLE Teaching’ authored by Dr. Sushree Sangita Mohanty under the Anthropology Programme, School of Tribal Legal Studies and Legal Rights, and ‘Philosophical Reflections on Bhima Bhoi and Mahima Dharma’, edited by Professor Harischandra Sahoo under the Bhima Bhoi Research Chair at KISS-DU.

Mr. Pramod Patra, Deputy Registrar, KISS-DU and Mr. Kadey Soren, Deputy Director, Academics and Convenor of the Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) also spoke on the occasion.