In what could be termed as a major setback to the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) in Bhubaneswar, the World Anthropological Union (WAU) has withdrawn its plan to hold the next World Anthropology Congress at the institute in 2023.
In a letter, the WAU mentioned about withdrawal of collaboration with KISS citing 'domestic and international protests of grave concern'.
"To avoid any controversy and considering the rather serious nature of the allegations and not desirous to take any sides in the controversy, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) Executive Committee took a decision to withdraw collaboration with KISS," the letter read.
The official congress of the IUAES and WAU- World Anthropology Congress is to be held in Delhi.
However, the withdrawal of collaboration did not go down well with the KISS. The institute reportedly created two websites and misinformed many colleagues of WAU that the World Anthropology Congress 2023 will be held at the institute.
"In its efforts, it has not only managed to misinform many colleagues, it has resorted to actions, like creating two websites to announce a World Anthropology Congress that is in no way endorsed by WAU or the IUAES," the letter stated.
"All members of WCAA and IUAES, who comprise WAU, are making a collective request to the anthropological community around the world to come together to make the lUAES-WAU World Anthropology Congress in India a great success," it added.
The move of the WAU came after rights activist Prafulla Samantara along many activists and intellectuals alleged that KISS is an anti-tribal institute and drew the attention of the union.
"When we learnt that a world conference will be held here, we objected stating how could the union hold it in an institute where anti-tribal education is being imparted to children. Thousands of children are kept at the institute for business purpose. It is a business institution," Rights activist Prafulla Samantara said.
"KISS, which claimed to have housed 20,000 to 25,000 children should have developed natural environment for the tribal children to keep them culturally and socially attached. The institute should have given emphasis on imparting education in their own language. However, in the name of education the children have been kept in a cage," alleged Samantara.
Following the allegations, the WAU conducted inquiry and found the allegations to be true. Subsequently, it withdrew collaboration with KISS for World Anthropology Congress 2023.
OTV contacted the vice-chancellor of KISS, but he refused to comment on the issue.