Interview: Hari Shanker Sharma

“We did not leave India to get the tag of NRIs…”

Professor of Neurobiology at the Uppsala University Hospital, Department of Surgical Sciences, Division of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine in Sweden, Hari Shanker Sharma, speaks to INDIA EMPIRE on the decision to leave India, and how it is that he can help his motherland with his knowledge and skill sets
Please tell us about your growing up years…
I completed my higher secondary schooling in 1969 from Dalmianagar and enrolled in Bihar University, Muzaffarpur for higher studies. I did my BSc. Hons from L S College Muzaffarpur and secured first position in my batch. Subsequently I did my Master’s from Bihar University with special expertise in cell biology in 1976 and was awarded a gold medal from the University for securing first position in the first class. I realized that the research environment was better at the Banaras Hindu University and completed my Ph.D from there in 1982.

What memories of the Banaras Hindu University and the Bihar University due you carry with you?
I cherish many a moment, especially about the philosophical part of my learnings. My teacher at the L S College Prof Ram Sharma who had himself been educated at the Liverpool University told me that it was human tendency to point out weaknesses in others in order to hide one’s own. He told me that it was important to carry on in the right path, no matter what. I was deeply influenced by Professor P K Dey at BHU who told me that students in science needed a blunt knife to go through the learning process. He elaborated further on that point, saying that if given a sharp knife, students would experiment and lose interest, with a blunt knife, they would try to experiment, but continue listening to the teachers, and would become fine, polished material at the end of their courses. What an outstanding philosophy.

As a member of the Bihari and Indian Diaspora, what is your dream for Bihar and India?
Well, I firmly believe that since India is developing, Bihar will develop too. In the 1950s and 1960s Bihar was among the states that had the finest of administrations, today it has deteriorated beyond measure. Things will be back to being very good again, we are sure.

Was the choice to become an NRI easy?
There was no choice, really. We left India with deep pain and anguish. We were harassed on every small thing at the BHU. It left scars. One of our professors told us that we had two choices in life which itself was limited, either to go out and do something solid, or destroy oneself in the quagmire of harassment. We did not leave to become NRIs, because it is not an asset. But today I can say that in Sweden we are able to accomplish in 6 months what would take us 20 years to do in India. We went to sharpen our skills there, not to become NRIs.

You have received many distinctions and awards. Tell us about the one that means the most…
The distinguished award in human anatomy in 1996 from the Uppsala University. It was really moving.

You have varied interests like in philosophy, meditation and relaxation. Please tell us about those…
We are born into a Hindu family, we believe in Hindu philosophy, it is about channeling the Universal feelings. It comes naturally, and we practice every day. It helps develop the self beyond measure.

February 2011

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