Native Village/Country parent’s background
I was born and raised in Jahanabad village, in the district of East Midnapore, West Bengal, India (about 130 km from Kolkata). My father was a school teacher and my mother was a house wife. Our family also does farming and local business.
Your Early Education
I did my schooling at Kalagachia Jagadish Vidyapith (one of the few National schools in West Bengal set up during the freedom movement to fight the British Rule). I then completed my BE in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, and ME from the IIEST, Shibpur. A few years later, I did my M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa, Canada.
When & Why You came to Canada
After doing my post graduation in India, I joined the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Ahmedabad as a scientist/engineer. While working there, I was offered a Canadian Commonwealth Fellowship by the Government of Canada to do my PhD. That’s how I landed in Ottawa in the early Nineties. After completing my PhD, I adopted Canada as my new homeland.
Your career advancement initiatives and present occupation
After my Engineering education in India, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work in ISRO. In Canada, after doing my PhD, I joined the University of Alberta as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, where I am a full Professor now. Like other professors, I spend my time in undergraduate and graduate teaching, research and associated professional activities e.g. writing books, editing journals, organizing conferences, etc. My research focuses on developing artificial intelligence techniques for medical diagnosis, and I collaborate extensively with doctors at the University of Alberta Hospital and Cross Cancer Institute.
In addition, I have always been involved with many community organizations in Canada. While doing my graduate studies, I was a board member of Deshanatri of Ottawa-Carleton (a Bengali association), Ottawa. In Edmonton, I have served Edmonton Bengali Association and Ankur Multicultural Association for Performing Arts as Presidents and Board members. I am associated with the Council of India Societies of Edmonton for the past 20 years and currently serving as its President. This allows me to remain connected with my Indian roots.
Your Regret in Life
I have no regrets whatsoever. In the early days in Canada, I used to miss India and working for my Motherland. But now I am deeply connected with the Indian communities here, and I also have close research collaboration with universities in India. Involving in these activities is akin to serving the Motherland, and I am now quite content.
Pick Any One of Your Best Achievements
Starting from a remote village in West Bengal and reaching the stage where I am now – it has been a long and exciting journey, with many important milestones on the way. I would not want to single out any of my educational or professional achievements. Balancing well good family and professional lives while serving the communities is what I consider to be my best achievement.
Were You Ever Discriminated?
Life has been very kind to me. During my stints at different places, such as Durgapur, Ahmedabad, Ottawa, and Edmonton, I have been surrounded by excellent friends, colleagues and superiors. I have never felt any sort of discrimination.
Are You Happy in Canada?
Yes, absolutely. I have so many fond memories starting from the day I arrived in Canada about three decades back. This country has given me so much and enriched my life in every possible way. Also, with a strong presence of the Indo-Canadian communities, I am getting the best of both Canadian and Indian cultures.
Any Comments on Canada’s Culture
In most global surveys, Canada has always been in the top two or three countries in the world to live in, and for all the right reasons. People here are honest and there is freedom at workplace. Multiculturalism is in-grained and encouraged in Canadian culture. All immigrants, irrespective of their background, feel welcomed here.
Any Comments on Canada’s Weather
There is no denying that Canadian Winter is somewhat depressing, especially for people like me who is from tropical weather. However, I am on optimist and always see the glass half-full. The summer is very beautiful here, especially with the Rocky mountain near by. I also do a few short trips to warmer destinations (personal and business) during the winter months to recharge myself.
What Brought You Success in Canada?
Hard work, perseverance, sincerity, honesty are perhaps some traits that brought me career success in India as well as here in Canada. The family plays a very vital role and for that matter, I give full credit to my family members and friends, and especially my wife, Ms. Rupasri Mandal. The Indian communities in Edmonton have also played a vital role by providing the much needed oxygen to grow my roots here.
Are You Willing to Help New Immigrants and How?
Through the Council of India Societies of Edmonton, we are already being helping new immigrants to settle in Canada and to become part of the Indian diaspora. Also, as a professor at the University of Alberta, I help a large number of newcomers, majority of them from India, to choose appropriate study and career paths.
Your Message for Canadians of Asian Origin
Canada is our new home, and so imbibe the good Canadian values, and become a good citizen. Keeping our rich spiritual values and progressive beliefs are also important. Canada has become a Global village. Live in harmony and respect everybody’s faith and beliefs. Canada has given us a good quality of life – so we should give back to the society whenever we can.