The memorable character of Phunsukh Wangdoo, portrayed by Aamir Khan in the film ‘3 Idiots’, remains etched in our memories. Beyond the actor’s charm, it was the character’s distinctive qualities and principles that made a lasting impression on the audience. Rancho’s unique approach towards life and his ability to discover practical solutions for everyday challenges set him apart. Furthermore, his commitment to sharing knowledge and making a positive impact on society, particularly among the younger generation at the grassroots level, showcased his dedication as an educator to empowering future generations.
Today we are going to tell you about Prof Mukti Kanta Mishra, the story of a real-life ‘Rancho’ from Odisha. The educationist not only transformed a failed college in a remote part of Odisha into a university with six sprawling campuses, but he also made it an epitome of ecological self-sustainability, adhering to the institutional, social and individual responsibility of being waste minimal and optimally utilizing the various resources. One of his significant brainchildren is a skill-based education model with parallel experiential & action learning through on-campus industries in partnership with diverse industry giants. The journey started around 2005 when Prof Mishra and his long-time friend Prof DN Rao got the contract to manage a college in a tribal district of Odisha infested by the Left Wing Extremists. Due to considerable disagreements in the college management, they were left with two choices, either to quit or to become the trustees themselves, of which they chose the latter and subsequently decided to have a campus in Bhubaneswar and some other parts
Since the campuses are mostly residential, a large amount of uncooked and cooked waste is generated. From day one, the campuses have partnerships with local piggeries, which were unable to find food for their livestock, to pick up the waste daily. The remaining food waste is converted to manure through biodigesters. Centurion Campus in Bhubaneswar was built on absolutely barren land because it is a laterite zone, but food waste was used as an alternative soil to groom and grow grass, various plants and trees. The entire wastewater of the hostels is treated and used in the fields and mango orchards.
Furthermore, all the waste of the library and other paper waste of the University are consumed within the University by converting it into handmade paper. And even more interestingly, the plastic bottles amassed on the Campus because of the consumption of packaged drinks by students, are shredded and used in making pavers manufactured within the University as part of the Civil Engineering course. These pavers are also sold only to other educational institutions on an I-2-I market basis.
The University already has more than 32 products within its various campuses produced directly or through its incubated social enterprise or through students’ start-ups. The on-campus industries produce market-linked products starting from bread to rice, to CO2 supercritical extracts to transformers, to high precision components for HAL and ISRO are a testament to Professor Mishra’s vision. With product and productions alone, the university aims to have Rs 100 crore turnover by the academic year 2025-26, which is currently around Rs 30-35 crore.