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Dr. Sanjoy Kumar Pal

My First Teaching Assignment

Dehradun 2007

In July 2006, I got an interview call for faculty position in department of Biotechnology from Sardar Bhagwan Singh Postgraduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences [SBSPGI], Dehradun. At first I was not very keen to go for the interview. I heard many things about private institutes that were not very pleasant, like lots of exploitation and harassment; moreover, they pay less and do not follow the UGC guidelines. Some of my colleagues working in Sanjay Gandhi PGI came and told me that their children were studying in that same institute. It was very good and no exploitation of staffs is reported from there, so I should not miss this chance. SBSPGI was rated quite high amongst the various teaching institutes in Dehradun. Finally, I decided to go for the interview and was surprised to the see the institute. It was situated in the foothills of the Garwal Himalayan range and was very nicely maintained. The institute had a big garden that was blooming with flowers. Moreover, the hill station Mussoorie was situated only 50 km from there. In the interview room I was even more surprised to see Prof. G S Randhawa of IIT Roorkee as the chairman of the interview committee. I was well acquainted with Prof. Randhawa as he came to Sanjay Gandhi PGI often to take PhD. viva of students. He knew me well so there was no much problem. The committee wanted to offer me Reader position (Associate Professor) because of my work experience, however, I have to bring 6 months teaching experience certificate. As I did not have any teaching experience so I was considered for Lecturer (Assistant Professor) position. I agreed for the same and joined the Institute in August 2006. I left my family in Lucknow and came to Dehradun alone as I still had doubt in my mind that how long I will be able to survive in the new institute. But, soon I discovered that the work environment was really very good here. The institute had a good library facility and followed all the prescribed rules & regulation of the UGC. There was no direct influence of the institute management in daily academic affairs. Gradually, I started liking the place. Dr. R N Singh, head of the Biochemistry department was very helpful and virtually took care of everything that I required that helped me to settle down. Later, Dr. Debashish Ghosh and Dr. Balvinder Singh become very friendly with me. We three had a great time together. I did not have television with me so I used to go to the room of Dr. Virma Ram, head of the Pharmacology department to see my favourite TV show ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’. I used to take dinner in the canteen of the boy’s hostel. The quality of food was very good there. Often after dinner Dr. Singh, Dr. Balvinder and Dr. Virma Ram along with me would go for a stroll which was very relaxing. We used to joke and laugh a lot discussing various funny issues. I had very enjoyable moments with them. We played badminton in the boy’s hostel in the evening. It was great fun as it helped to keep us fit and healthy. Sometimes Dr. Gaurav Deep Singh the secretary of the institutional education society also came and joined us.

When I joined SBSPGI the Biotechnology building was in the final phase of completion. So for few months I had to share my chamber with Dr. Vikalp of the department of Biochemistry. After about 8 – 9 months one day my head Dr. Sanjay Gupta brought along with him a Sardarji who he introduced to me as the new administrative office of the institute. His face seems familiar to me, after a bit discussion I discovered that he was my lab mate of I.V.R.I., Dr. PS Bedi. I was meeting him after about 15 years, so I couldn’t recognize him. However, after few months Dr. Bedi, Dr. Balvinder, Dr. Debashish and I had a great association. We started doing research together and publish work done by our MSc. students on anticancer and antimicrobial studies. After about 10 months of joining SBSPGI my family joined me in Dehradun. We got a big bunglow with 3 bedrooms and the house was also very near to the institute. Sneha got admission in Brooklyn School and Sanghita got a job in Sherwood School. Things were moving well for me in Dehradun. However, after leaving Lucknow I did not give up my research work on cancer. My MSc. students were working on animal cancer models for their MSc. dissertation. I was also regularly meeting the renowned Ayurvedic physician Vaidya Balendu Prakash when ever he came to Dehradun from his abroad trips.  He was awarded Padma Shri, for his research work on cancer in 1999. Vaidya Balendu was the one who virtually moved me out of Dehradun. He along with his friend Mr. P C Godha (MD of the Ipca Labs, Mumbai) started a new company Ipca Traditional Remedies Private Limited. It was a sister concern of Ipca Labs situated in Mumbai. I could not refuse the offer of Senior Scientific Officer over there. So in August 2008, I again moved from Dehradun to Mumbai, this time with my family.

Some Pictures of Dehradun