Native Village/Country parent’s background
I was born to the reputed Chaudhury family in Calcutta and raised in the Holy City of Varanasi – in the close proximity of the sacred river Ganges.
My father Udit Bhaskar was the General Manager of HR in the hospitality industry and an avid music lover. My mother Purnima was one of the luminaries of Indian classical music.
I am a practicing Hindu in true spirit and secular in my thoughts. My mother tongue is Bangla whereas my first language is Hindi. I staunchly believe in my rich Indian heritage and thrive in the multicultural fabric of Canada.
Your Early Education and career
I completed High School at Saint John’s School Varanasi. Finished my B.Com from the University of Allahabad. Contributed as a special correspondent with the pre-independence English newspaper ‘The Pioneer’. My role in Pioneer was to interview personalities and report on current social issues.
Joined and completed six semesters of LLB (Law) degree from Varanasi followed by one year of Post-Grad Diploma in Management from Brighton University in Sussex, England.
Got an opportunity to join Tata-Timken upon return from England. Tatas are one of the largest Global Corporations of India. Their multinational brands include Steel, Trucks, Jaguars, Land/Range Rovers and many more. Timken represented the Century manufacturer from Ohio known for steel and bearings.
Such was the investor confidence in India that the joint venture TATA-TIMKEN attracted over-subscription of share issues which is still a World record. The expectation of working for such a Corporation was very high. Performed pioneering roles in Corporate and Marketing Communications. Worked in the offices of the iconic Tata Centre in Calcutta, followed by the Tata House in Bombay. Subsequently, started the office in Pune, moved to the capital New Delhi followed by a stint at the factory in Jamshedpur. After contributing ten years to TATA-TIMKEN decided to move to Canada.
When & Why You came to Canada
I moved to Canada in 2003 with just the two suitcases – with my wife supporting my decision and my son just a toddler. We landed in Toronto, moved to Edmonton after spending about five years in the Toronto Region.
The one important reason to move to Canada was to give a less stressful life to the family and the hope that the new generation would do well and continue to contribute to the Indian and Canadian cultural landscape.
Your career advancement initiatives, volunteer work and present occupation
I am privileged to be working with the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. I work with UCP Caucus as the Community Outreach Coordinator. My responsibilities include bringing the communities to the Government and the Government to the communities. We live in a shared space and collaboration (in this case Alberta Government and the Communities) is the key to moving forward. We cannot achieve any major goals without the help of each other.
Presently, I am more than halfway through my Doctoral Program (Doctorate in Business Administration) and able to manage my time and move forward after giving my 100% to my full-time job.
I have been the winning Campaign Manager for the constituency of Edmonton Mill Woods and can claim that am an election campaign strategist. My MBA in strategic planning helps me professionally to design election campaigns.
I and my spouse volunteer for three Non-Profit/ Charity organizations like Thumri Foundation, Ethnic Synergy and Sarb Akal Music Society. I have also volunteered with Ragamala, United Way and UNICEF Canada.
Your Regret in Life
There are no regrets in my life yet.
Pick Any One of Your Best Achievements
The best achievement is yet to happen. Destiny will decide when that would happen. At the moment, I am glad to contribute a little to the community and I am always trying to make a difference in the lives of the community members.
Were You Ever Discriminated?
I do not recall a single instance where I felt that I was discriminated against. Of course, there is a glass ceiling and that is understandable. I do believe that the glass ceiling is breakable – even if that takes a long time.
A real-life example can be cited in the instance when I joined Alberta Legislature in 2012 as the Constituency Manager. It was my ambition to work inside the Legislature and be a part of the legislative decision-making process. My home and my office were in Mill Woods, and I was appointed by Alberta Legislature even then to move from my Constituency Office to fulfil my aspirations of working within the Legislature building – it took 10 years to move 10 kilometres. It was hard though the glass ceiling was not impregnable. I feel having set my foot in and around the decision-making table, a lot more can be achieved and contributed.
Are You Happy in Canada?
I am extremely happy in Canada and so is my family significant half Lipika and my only son Avishek. Though Avishek is doing his Law Degree from Oxford, England – I think he will be contributing further to the Economic and Cultural landscape of Canada.
Any Comments on Canada’s Culture
We are absolutely privileged to be in Canada which is so culturally diverse. Our family contributes to the cultural landscape by organizing classical music concerts through a foundation named after my late mother who has served as a musical ambassador of India. The Foundation is called Purnima Chaudhuri Thumri Foundation and is the only Thumri Foundation in the Globe as of now. Thumri is a specialized and rhythmic form of Indian classical music.
My spouse Lipika who is a banker with CIBC and my son Avishek – along with a team of dedicated music lovers organize memorable concerts. One of the major objectives of the organization is to provide opportunities to local talent.
We also contribute to the cultural landscape of Alberta and Canada by producing and editing an award-winning community magazine called Ethnic Synergy. We were fortunate to have the then Speaker of Alberta Legislature, Honourable Gene Zwozdesky to inaugurate Ethnic Synergy – now in its 10th year of publication and is building a rich cultural heritage in Canada and promoting the spirit of Canadian Multiculturalism.
Any Comments on Canada’s Weather
I personally enjoy the Canadian weather. This peculiar weather keeps us fresh, and the pollution is very low. We can breathe fresh air. I and my son enjoy skiing and enjoy the snow as long as it is up to minus 10*C.
What Brought You Success in Canada?
Canadian environment allowed me the opportunity to pursue my higher education. While in India, I somehow managed to get one-year leave (without pay) to go to England pursue a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management.
I had to wait two decades to go back to England and do my Second Year of Management Education and complete my Masters in international management. It was only possible with the moral support of my wife Lipika, because of my immigration to Canada and the freedom to expression we avail here.
Further, to the English venture, I got a scholarship to travel to a partner University in Philadelphia to do my specialization. Then I had the opportunity to go back to Philadelphia again for the second term to complete my second MBA from the US.
It was fairly easy to tap into Canadian and Alberta student loans and was supported by a few grants and scholarships. No wonder Canada is called the land of opportunities.
Are You Willing to Help New Immigrants and How?
Helping new immigrants is not just an aspiration but a duty. One thing that we can contribute through our experiences is to make sure that the new immigrants we know – do not repeat the same errors that we have made.
Your Message for Canadians of Indian Origin
One needs to work hard and make the right choices at the right time. Canada provides an equitable opportunity in the backdrop of a fair society.
It is a privilege to be an Indo-Canadian in the land of diversity and multiculturism and there is no limit to what one can achieve and contribute to the community-at-large. I believe this is the country where persons of Indian origin would create a significant and positive impact throughout the Globe. Soon we will have in Canada and Alberta the likes of leaders like Satya Nadela (head of Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (Head of Google), Rishi Sunak (Prime Minister of the UK) and many more. In the political landscape of Alberta, there is an opportunity for South Asians origin leaders. We have started to bridge the gap at the Federal level with the likes of Honourable Anita Anand – the Defence minister of Canada. I am sure, the vacuum will soon be filled in Alberta.