WEBVTT 00:00:00.000 --> 01:06:30.000 [AMITA BANERJEE]: We’ll get started? Okay. Can you please state and spell your name? 00:00:00.001 --> 01:06:30.001 [SANTIMOY BANERJEE]: My name is Santimoy Banerjee. S a n t i m o y, that’s my first name. Last name is Banerjee, that’s b a n e r j e e. 00:00:00.002 --> 01:06:30.002 [AB]: When and where were you born? 00:00:00.003 --> 01:06:30.003 [SB]: I was born in Calcutta, long time ago **laughs** 00:00:00.004 --> 01:06:30.004 [AB]: Which year? 00:00:00.005 --> 01:06:30.005 [SB]: And I was raised in, brought up in Calcutta. We lived in Chetla in Calcutta, which is very close to Kalighat Kali Temple. And, which is visible from my house. We grew up, I grew up in Calcutta. Went to school, Mitra Institution, which is well-known institution, schooling. At least, at that time, in Bengal. Then, I went to University of Calcutta for my MS. And, I did my PhD work in Bose Institute Calcutta, on University of Calcutta. And after that, I came to this country in 1969. I was in Boston. I did my post-doctoral research there. And then, I went back to India to get married, stay there for couple of years, and came back in ’75. And I'm staying here living in United States since then. 00:00:00.006 --> 01:06:30.006 [AB]: So, when you were small, what languages did you speak? When, growing up? 00:00:00.007 --> 01:06:30.007 [SB]: I used to speak Bengali. And when I did my--when a friend of mine and I did high-school exam, I thought we’d learn some rashtrabhasha. So, I did a course in Hindi. But that’s about it, now I’ve forgot. I learned a little bit, but, now I forgot. I got later marks for that **laughs**. But I forgot. 00:00:00.008 --> 01:06:30.008 [AB]: Tell us a little about your experience growing up in Kolkata when you were young. 00:00:00.009 --> 01:06:30.009 [SB]: We were a middle-class family, united family. My father, my two uncles and their family lived in a small house. And I had two more brothers. My second brother, next brother, was a CPA, Chartered Accountant. And my youngest brother was, had down-syndrome, so he didn’t do anything. But I had cousins. My father’s next brother, whom I called kaku, kaku had four children. And, we all lived in the same house, and I am the big brother among them **laughs** So, I still have good relationship with them. 00:00:00.010 --> 01:06:30.010 [AB]: So, with your cousins, brothers, you had a good relationship, is that common? 00:00:00.011 --> 01:06:30.011 [SB]: With everybody. 00:00:00.012 --> 01:06:30.012 [AB]: Is that common in India? Was it common to have good relationships? 00:00:00.013 --> 01:06:30.013 [SB]: It is common and not common. Sometimes, mostly common. But, sometimes, money plays a big part in that. For example, I’m saying, my maternal uncle’s family, I had one, two, three, four uncles. My mother and her sister. But, they had a three story house, they divided accordingly. But, as soon as they got married and—the guy who earned most had a problem with others. So, money plays a lot of problem, creates a lot of problem in the relationship. 00:00:00.014 --> 01:06:30.014 [AB]: Especially in joint families? 00:00:00.015 --> 01:06:30.015 [SB]: In what? 00:00:00.016 --> 01:06:30.016 [AB]: Especially in joint families? 00:00:00.017 --> 01:06:30.017 [SB]: In joint families. Money creates a lot of problem. Not in the beginning, towards later-- because my father—in our family, we didn’t have that, because right after I got married, my uncle, next uncle, he had a house built somewhere else. So, he moved out. And my youngest uncle, he moved out before that. So, the problem generally comes with authority. 00:00:00.018 --> 01:06:30.018 And if the guy, eldest guy or oldest person becomes the boss of the, some kind of, boss of the house, and—generally, if you have that situation, and it’s somebody else in the line-up earns a lot more money, it creates problem, he wants things for himself, but, you know. So that is the problem. And that’s why nowadays, there are very few united families. They all move out, which is good, good for relations. 00:00:00.019 --> 01:06:30.019 [AB]: More nuclear families. 00:00:00.020 --> 01:06:30.020 [SB]: Huh? 00:00:00.021 --> 01:06:30.021 [AB]: More nuclear families. 00:00:00.022 --> 01:06:30.022 [SB]: Yes. That’s good for relationship. But, if you move out after fighting, that makes things bad. 00:00:00.023 --> 01:06:30.023 [AB]: So, when you were growing up in Kolkata, do you remember any experience which is significant, that you would like to share? 00:00:00.024 --> 01:06:30.024 [SB]: What kind of experience? 00:00:00.025 --> 01:06:30.025 [AB]: Any experience. Something happening in the politics, something happening in your family. 00:00:00.026 --> 01:06:30.026 [SB]: Well, politics always happens. We riots and things like that. My father was a-- in 1948 there was a Hindu-Muslim riot. You were probably not there at that time **laughs** But there was a Hindu-Muslim riot. And we just got independence. I was 6, 7 years old, but I vaguely remember. There was a riot, and at that time, we had the Hindus and Muslims living in the same area. And we had Muslim tailor who had a store there (inaudible) And because of the riot, he was in danger. His life was in total danger. 00:00:00.027 --> 01:06:30.027 My parents, my father, and my uncle, they shielded the guy until later, the calm prevailed. And, I helped that person get out to go to Bangladesh, later on. And that person became very big in Bangladesh, he used to visit us whenever he used to come to Kolkata. So, that’s one good thing shaped my life. My father was an officer in central government, federal government. Used to help poor people, that is a thing that I remember. And I also remember one good person. He’s my idol. He was my mother’s maternal uncle, oldest maternal uncle. And he was a very famous anesthesiologist and very powerful one at that. Because he was very good. 00:00:00.028 --> 01:06:30.028 He once did a 12 hour surgery and then walking back to his house and at Cancer Research Institute, in Hazra road, I don’t know you know it. They needed an anesthesiologist, just saw she yes he did so this kind ofthey didn’t have one. And they saw him. They asked him whether he could assist them, and he did. So, these kind of benevolent acts, I always-- 00:00:00.029 --> 01:06:30.029 [AB]: Shaped your life. Shaped your childhood. 00:00:00.030 --> 01:06:30.030 [SB]: Right. And the other thing in the neighborhood, when I grew up, we started a club called Mitra (inaudible). We started a durga, puja. I used to help them about the preparation of the puja, fruit cutting and this and that. You know, I used to gather people, I used to do that. 00:00:00.031 --> 01:06:30.031 [AB]: Tell me a little bit about your mother and your father. 00:00:00.032 --> 01:06:30.032 [SB]: My, as I said, my father was an officer in central government, geological survey of India. And my uncle—my grandfather died at an early age when my father was about 16 or 17, something. So, he couldn’t pursue his education. He had to look for a job to--I have five aunts and there were two or three still to be married, when my grandfather passed away. And my father and my uncle, my uncle who I look as my father, my mentor, they worked hard. They worked maybe two jobs and things like that to get by. But, my father was, as I said, very good, very honest, very, very, honest man. And, used to help people whenever he could. I’ll tell you a story. 00:00:00.033 --> 01:06:30.033 There was a guy, a low-class person, he used to come, and I used to give him some money, he used to polish my shoes and things like that. So, I told my dad that if he could do something to that guy. And, he put him in the temporary job in his office and slowly that became a permanent job. And he used to do that all the time. So, that kind of shape my future. And then, my mother was a homemaker but she was loved by everybody. She was a very nice—my father was the eldest person in the family, so my mother was a very loving person. She used to give away food and stuff like that to people. And what else can I say, she was a good cook and things like that. And we are the product so that tells something about my mother **laughs** 00:00:00.034 --> 01:06:30.034 [AB]: So, you came into the United States to study. 00:00:00.035 --> 01:06:30.035 [SB]: Yeah, I finished my PhD in India and then came to— 00:00:00.036 --> 01:06:30.036 [AB]: Which year? Which year did you-- SB--Boston in 1989. I came to Harvard Medical School and did my post-doc there. It was— 00:00:00.037 --> 01:06:30.037 [AB]: In nineteen, which year? 00:00:00.038 --> 01:06:30.038 [SB]: In 1969, February 1969. And that was a-- I stayed there for three years and a half. It was a very good, productive, so far my academics are concerned. We published a paper, which was mentioned in the editorial of the journal nature. That was one of the best in my scientific career, that was the best work I did. 00:00:00.039 --> 01:06:30.039 [AB]: So what were the—did you have any expectations when you came into the United States? 00:00:00.040 --> 01:06:30.040 [SB]: I never came here to stay forever. At that time, at that time, the general consensus among the Indian, especially Bengali people was, we’ll get some, this much money, and go back. And for us, it was, we’ll do something, and get something in India. But, what happened, I was trained in Bio-chemistry. And Bio-chemistry was a new subject at that time. There was no opportunity, very little opportunity in India about that. So, I went back to stay there, but didn't get very good opportunity. So, I came back again. 00:00:00.041 --> 01:06:30.041 [AB]: When did you get married? 00:00:00.042 --> 01:06:30.042 [SB]: I got married in 1972. When I went back from Boston. I came back in ‘75 to Long Island, New York. And then after year and a half, I came to Chicago in 1976, and I've been living in Chicago since then. Used to live in Hyde Park for about 10 years and then moved to this house in 1985. That’s it. Stuck here. 00:00:00.043 --> 01:06:30.043 [AB]: **laughs** Were there some challenges when you first arrived here? 00:00:00.044 --> 01:06:30.044 [SB]: Oh yeah, challenges are always there. Yeah, one of the challenges is the language. As you know, we speak English. We learn English, but in India we never speak English, right? I had not travelled very extensively in India, so that, I did not practice English at that time. So, when I first came here, I understanding people or them understanding me was a problem. Somebody said, Oh you speak very rhythmic English. **laughs** So, it was a big problem, but that was the first thing I found. 00:00:00.045 --> 01:06:30.045 The other thing I had problem with is food. As you know, in India, we are used to eating Indian food. And at that time India and America, they're not known to each other as good as now. Very few people are—you’re talkingabout a time when you go outside of India, people will come to the airport with flower bouquets or things like that. And when you go back, they come to the airport to receive you. When I went back, there was about 20 people welcoming me back in Dum Dum airport. So, we didn't know about America anything. And, when we came here, first problem I had was language and food. And of course the general, what should I say, general aspects of life like, you should do this, you should do that, and things like that. 00:00:00.046 --> 01:06:30.046 [AB]: So, how would you describe your first job in the U.S.? And the experience of working there. And then, later, I want to ask you about opportunity advancement. How were you treated? So, the first question first, how would you describe your first job in the U. S. and the experience working there? 00:00:00.047 --> 01:06:30.047 [SB]: The first job at Harvard, that was--in the beginning, I had all these problems, language, food, and talking to people, you know. I went to have tea with a colleague. And when it came to giving money, he put his ten cents or whatever for his cup of tea. I’m not used to that. If I take you to a restaurant, I pay for it or you pay for it. We don’t **laughs** do the, generally— 00:00:00.048 --> 01:06:30.048 [AB]: It’s more sharing. 00:00:00.049 --> 01:06:30.049 [SB]: We don’t do that. No. And also, the standard of research here was much higher than I used to do in Calcutta. I must say, what we did in Calcutta during my PhD, I did—my professor was recently returned from America. So, our project was more or less up to the standard. But, when I came here, it's a little different subject and— 00:00:00.050 --> 01:06:30.050 [AB]: Did you find it harder? 00:00:00.051 --> 01:06:30.051 [SB]: In the beginning, I found it a little difficult to catch up. Because, they have all the instrumentation and things like that, which I had to get used to. But, once I did, as I said, my life’s best work, I did there. Because, you know the journal Nature. We published a paper and the journal Nature wrote an editorial of that. 00:00:00.052 --> 01:06:30.052 [AB]: That’s big. That’s very big. 00:00:00.053 --> 01:06:30.053 [SB]: That’s very big. And, you know, Nature is a very well known—people knew my name right away. And then one guy, Jacob Manod (Jacques Monod), they got Nobel Prize proposing how protein synthesis is controlled and they did in a system where you give something to the organism and they make their, that response with enzyme which will deal with that food. That's called induced synthesis. You make that enzyme to be made in your body. And what we did, we isolated or looked at what happens when enzymes are always made, irrespective of the food. You understand? So, anyway, that was the other side. So, we got a review of that publication in the journal Nature, which is a— 00:00:00.054 --> 01:06:30.054 [AB]: So, how were you treated as far as opportunity, advancement, recognition for your work? 00:00:00.055 --> 01:06:30.055 [SB]: I think there is discrimination. And, although, that was the, for that professor, that particular work, was probably the best of his career. 00:00:00.056 --> 01:06:30.056 [AB]: Your professor’s career? 00:00:00.057 --> 01:06:30.057 [SB]: Yeah. Because, you know, here is we were talking about a Nobel laureate and next thing we are talking about about this guy. So, it’s a big thing. Then, I made a mistake also. There are two mistakes I made. One is, at that time, in 19, early ‘70s, ’70, there was a lot of influx of Indians to this country. They were getting, the reason was, during Kennedy administration, they had a project done, research done, which said, that in early ‘70s, they will need so many engineers, so many doctors, so many this, so many that, all professional people. 00:00:00.058 --> 01:06:30.058 [AB]: So, the immigration opened up. 00:00:00.059 --> 01:06:30.059 [SB]: The immigration opened up, and people who applied got immigration in about two months. But, I could have done that. But what I did, instead I was idealistic and I thought I would go back, I’ll live in India, and stuff like that. After all, at that time, you feel like you are not equal to the Americans here. Like a second-class citizen. 00:00:00.060 --> 01:06:30.060 [AB]: So, where did you feel there was discrimination? 00:00:00.061 --> 01:06:30.061 [SB]: Well, I don't know where or how, because at the time I'm not looking for any job or anything. So, I cannot (inaudible), but, just like, if you go to India now, you’ll feel differently that this is your country, this is—although, you lived so many years in United States, you don't feel like whatever you feel like back in India. So, that kind of feeling. So, I thought I would go back to India and live there. And that was the first mistake. So, I didn't ask for any favors to find me another job or apartment and job, so that was my mistake. 00:00:00.062 --> 01:06:30.062 [AB]: That was probably because you were an idealist, you know, you were an idealist. 00:00:00.063 --> 01:06:30.063 [SB]: Yeah, kind of. 00:00:00.064 --> 01:06:30.064 [AB]: Not as a mistake, you were an idealist and you wanted to go back home and do your work there. 00:00:00.065 --> 01:06:30.065 [SB]: Yeah, that’s a kind of mistake. Because, you go back with a proper position in hand, but I didn’t do that. 00:00:00.066 --> 01:06:30.066 [AB]: Would you say that making friends in the United States is difficult or not? 00:00:00.067 --> 01:06:30.067 [SB]: Friends, American friends? No, I wouldn't say that. You can make friends. I’ll tell you, when I came to Boston, I didn't have, I didn't know anybody. My supervisor, thesis supervisor, he wrote to a guy who was in Boston to help me out, find a place to live. So, he got me a place. He was a Bengali. But, he got me a place, and so, that’s the only person I knew by name. But, three years and a half later, when I left, I was given a reception, farewell reception by 150 people, not Bengalis. 150 international people, American included for my farewell. And, I knew, as for Bengalis, we started all—not many Bengalis were there. 00:00:00.068 --> 01:06:30.068 So, we started (inaudible) and then durga puja in Boston. So, that was very primary days. But, I was associated with International Students Organization, this is not the university one, but it’s the church based organization where I got involved. And we went to every weekend, we went to somebody's place, Christmas went to somebody’s place. And those people organized that surprise farewell party with about 150 people came. 00:00:00.069 --> 01:06:30.069 [AB]: That felt good. 00:00:00.070 --> 01:06:30.070 [SB]: Yeah. 00:00:00.071 --> 01:06:30.071 [AB]: So, were you homesick throughout these years? 00:00:00.072 --> 01:06:30.072 [SB]: Oh sure. 00:00:00.073 --> 01:06:30.073 [AB]: How do you describe the process of corresponding, how did you correspond with your family and going back to visit? Tell me about that part of your life. 00:00:00.074 --> 01:06:30.074 [SB]: Well, homesickness is very common. Even today people feel homesick, but at that time, you don’t know anybody. You’re in a—you don’t know the language, there are customs and things like that. So, feeling homesick is natural and at that time, at a greater point. I did feel homesick, at that time only way, or most only way to communicate with your family is by writing letters. And, you write it today, it takes about 15 days to a month to get there. So, it takes another month or two months to get something back from there. Telecommunication, telephoning is another thing. 00:00:00.075 --> 01:06:30.075 At that time, you had to tell the operator in the morning that you want to call India, that's number. And the 12 hour later, operator will call you back, Do you want to call. I said, Yes. They will connect it. But, as you know, at that time, very few house-hold had telephones. So, you had to call some store in the neighborhood and they will go call my parents and it was very expensive. At that time, one minute call cost three dollars. Not today’s dollar. At that time, that’s—so, you know, it’s—but, I got involved into that international thing and slowly you start enjoying. In about six months, I learned driving. I got a car, a used car for $400. 00:00:00.076 --> 01:06:30.076 And my life changed. (inaudible), at that time, our communication with the Bengali community that we had was, I would say, much better than now. Because, I was a bachelor and the others were married and things like that. So, they would invite me to dinner. And I used to play cards. So, people who played cards called me and not only to play cards, dinner was included **laughs** primary education is starting from Montessori to first standard, we had several vernacular groups, classes, in between. So, for four years after Montessori, I was at a local Gujarati school, local Parsi school, primarily for girls. And, so they would that take boys until they were about 8 or 9 years of age and then we moved on to a boy’s school. And so, I was there at the Parsi school, our community school, close to where we lived, for four years till I was age of 8 or so. And then moved on to another same kind of school, missionary school, called the Don Bosco High School. St. John Don Bosco. And they had a school that was newly opened, when I first started there. And that's where I graduated from high school, we call that secondary school certificate, SSC, at that time. So, that is my earlier scholastic life. inaudible 00:00:00.077 --> 01:06:30.077 [AB]: Of course. But what did you miss about India the most? 00:00:00.078 --> 01:06:30.078 [SB]: Well, in India that’s your place that you’re born, you grew up with. Our neighborhood is like a compound here. And our house is here, there are houses here. So we have a club here. So we started that club. And, you know, the warmth of hospitality, they cannot do monetary, financial favors or anything, but, even today when I go back. People ask me, (inaudible) which is very, you know, you have been out of the country for more than 50 years. Now you go back still there are people who recognize you, ask you, stops by to talk to you for a few minutes. You don't see that here in this country. And you miss that. 00:00:00.079 --> 01:06:30.079 [AB]: What prompted you to become a U. S. citizen? Did you and your spouse become U. S. citizens at the same time? 00:00:00.080 --> 01:06:30.080 [SB]: Yes. We all, me, my wife, and my daughter, when I came to this country second time, my daughter was about six months old. So, we all became citizen at the same time. One of the reasons I came, I became citizen at the, I became citizen quite late. I waited for a long time. And that’s usual Bengali concept that keeps waiting. But, I was going to get the job in the Army research facility. And then they asked, Are you a citizen? And I had to say, No. And that’s a big thing. The other thing also, I was working in a company and they had to send me to Kuwait, which I went there, I worked. But second time when I went there, they had restriction of visa because I’m an Indian citizen. And so— 00:00:00.081 --> 01:06:30.081 [AB]: That prompted you to become a citizen. 00:00:00.082 --> 01:06:30.082 [SB]: Yeah. And the third thing is my daughter was about to go to college. And not being a citizen there are lot of things, like scholarships and this and that. And I thought that I’m not going back, so why not become a citizen? 00:00:00.083 --> 01:06:30.083 [AB]: How do you maintain your connections with your Indian Heritage here? 00:00:00.084 --> 01:06:30.084 [SB]: Well, we have a Bengali Association here which— 00:00:00.085 --> 01:06:30.085 [AB]: How many members does it have? 00:00:00.086 --> 01:06:30.086 [SB]: Regular members, I don’t know, about 500 or so. Right now, I don’t know. 00:00:00.087 --> 01:06:30.087 [AB]: Approximately. 00:00:00.088 --> 01:06:30.088 [SB]: Approximately, but during durga puja, you get upto about 1500 people. So, lot of people are—nonmembers come to the durga puja and things like that. So, that’s one of the things that— 00:00:00.089 --> 01:06:30.089 [AB]: Keeps you connected? 00:00:00.090 --> 01:06:30.090 [SB]: Yes, I am connected with. I am I do things which are in India. I do, as you know, I do some philanthropic work. (inaudible) 00:00:00.091 --> 01:06:30.091 [AB]: Tell me about your philanthropic work. What do you do? 00:00:00.092 --> 01:06:30.092 [SB]: Actually, if I tell you—throughout my life, I've been doing some, I've been interested in social work. I lived in Chetla, if you know, Chetla is very notorious about having largest bostis in Bengal. So, there are lot of-- 00:00:00.093 --> 01:06:30.093 [AB]: You mean slums. 00:00:00.094 --> 01:06:30.094 [SB]: --poor people. 00:00:00.095 --> 01:06:30.095 [AB]: Bostis are slums. 00:00:00.096 --> 01:06:30.096 [SB]: Yeah. Bostis are slums. There are lot of poor people, and I always thought to do something about it. And, if you go to the politicians, they talk big but, if you give them an idea. But, very beginning, when I was in school, you know (inaudible) 480 project, American, they had some money invested in India. They used to send. what's up buddy just say used to send dry milk to India in bags. And that was distributed to all the neighborhoods for distributing to poor people. 00:00:00.097 --> 01:06:30.097 So, I volunteered to that, and I used to wake up at around 5 o’ clock in the morning, go to the particular place, and make milk and distribute them among poor people everyday. So that was, I would say, a start. Then I started with—after that, when I was in college, a friend of mine and I started to create a textbook library for the poor people. Used to go to the professors and, what is the place called, near the coffeehouse in, what is that place called. Anyway, where all the books are used books, so we used to go there, get books, and try to get— 00:00:00.098 --> 01:06:30.098 [AB]: College street. 00:00:00.099 --> 01:06:30.099 [SB]: College street. Tried to find books, textbooks, and so that people, poor people can get those books, read, and bring it back up and things like that. So, we started that. So, that was my second endeavor. And then, after I came to this country, when I was in Boston, the war broke out between India and Pakistan in 1970s, if you know that. And the lot of refugees from, now, Bangladesh to India. And, it went to a point where India couldn’t withstand all those refugees, and they had to attack, there are other political things, but in a way, that was one of the reasons given that. 00:00:00.100 --> 01:06:30.100 So, at that time I raised lot of money from the professors and others in Boston. And sent them to India. That was another thing I did. And, when I came to Chicago, I, what did I do. Oh, first of all, we started a program of sending used clothes to India, Kolkata, to be distributed to poor people. Ronojoy Dutta was president of United Airlines at that time. So, he told me, Santida, every month, you can send two boxes, for free. Two boxes of clothes for free. So, we did that for about two years, collecting clothes from other people, people like you, and send it to India to be distributed. So, that was my second. 00:00:00.101 --> 01:06:30.101 And when Ronojoy left United Airlines, then I started thinking. I mean it stopped. Because it's not worth paying shipping charge and all those things, so we stopped. And one thing we, yes, Bharat Sevashram Sangha came here, Purnatmanandaji Swami, he came here and I was one of the first one to greet him, and actually, he gave me a Person of the Year Award later on. So, what I did is, in order for him to establish Bharat Sevashram Sangha, to establish in this country, I said, Look Swamiji, Bharat Sevashram Sangha is known for Shiva so we should do something. Instead of doing a another mandir, temple, which we have, couple of them. Let's do something unique. We start something, Shiva. 00:00:00.102 --> 01:06:30.102 And I started, got the idea from somebody, and we started soup kitchen. First we started in Chicago Division Street church. And then, moved to northside, Rogers Park where we did soup kitchen for more than 35 years, it’s still going on. Somebody else took the charge couple of years ago. I go there to help them, but I’m not in charge anymore, I don't coordinate anymore. But I did it for about 25 years or more, since 1992. And we started with the idea of establishing Bharat Sevashram Sangha in Chicago area as philanthropic thing, and—go ahead. 00:00:00.103 --> 01:06:30.103 [AB]: Bharasa. 00:00:00.104 --> 01:06:30.104 [SB]: Bharasa-- 00:00:00.105 --> 01:06:30.105 [AB]: What is Bharasa? 00:00:00.106 --> 01:06:30.106 [SB]: Bharasa is one—this, Ronojoy’s sending clothes stopped. I started thinking of doing something in India. We do already soup kitchen in America, but I started thinking about doing something in India. So I gathered, I thought, if we, as I said, my thought was, in this country, whatever we are, how little we are, we are better than people in India. We have a more or less, good life. And we can always spare five, ten bucks or, for that matter hundred bucks. So, to do good for India, after all we came from India, India spent a lot of money for us, to educate us. And so, I gathered Krishna Chakrabarthy and Subroto Banerjee, they are my good friends, both of them. And told my them about my idea, and according to Krishnaji’s suggestion, the name Bharasa was given to it. 00:00:00.107 --> 01:06:30.107 [AB]: What does it mean, Bharasa? 00:00:00.108 --> 01:06:30.108 [SB]: Bharasa means dependence. You can depend on me. You can depend on me, and that's what we do. Okay, so, Bharasa means you can depend on me. What is the-- what do I do? Do we do at Bharasa? We raise funds in this country and we send it to India, work with non-governmental organizations called NGOs. We (inaudible) get some vocational training to poor, mainly women, so that they can earn their living and help their family. Also, give some tutorial help to their kids, so that they can, instead of dropping out of school, or getting drugs, you know, addicted to drugs, they learn some education, and if they’re doing good, we try to help them in college also. So, that is Bharasa. 00:00:00.109 --> 01:06:30.109 We started in 2004 and at that time, as I said we started with myself, Krishnaji, and Subroto. Subroto recently passed away. And then, we made it tax exempt, so that people who donate can take their taxes, take that money out of taxes. Since then, we have given all kinds of vocational training. Tailoring, making (inaudible) at home, fishing, all kinds of stuff that we do. So far, I would say we have trained more than 3,000 women and some men. So that they can earn money and help their family. And, lot of kids got education. And some of them are going to college and we are trying to help them. And recently, during the Covid period, we spent a lot of money, about $50,000 or more, to sponsor a clinic, buy all the PPEs, and whatever is needed, oxygen— 00:00:00.110 --> 01:06:30.110 [AB]: Concentrators. 00:00:00.111 --> 01:06:30.111 [SB]: Yeah. 00:00:00.112 --> 01:06:30.112 [AB]: So, this is what you do in your free time? 00:00:00.113 --> 01:06:30.113 [SB]: Kind of. **laughs** This is a good work. My philosophy, if you can help one person to get better, you feel satisfied and we do that. 00:00:00.114 --> 01:06:30.114 [AB]: Do you want to talk about what kind of impact Indian Americans have made in Chicago? 00:00:00.115 --> 01:06:30.115 [SB]: In Chicago, or in general in the United States. 00:00:00.116 --> 01:06:30.116 [AB]: Either one. 00:00:00.117 --> 01:06:30.117 [SB]: When I first came, there is not a single faculty member at Harvard University. And for that matter, very few in the whole country academically. And slowly, you look at that, now everywhere there are some Indian faculty, lot of Indian faculty. You see, we have according to statistics, we have about 30 to 8 to 40% doctors who are of Indian origin. We didn’t have--although it's not, okay-- we, in all the areas of life now, there are Indians. You look, open TV, you will see Indian doctors are interviewing, you see Indian journalists are talking, so— 00:00:00.118 --> 01:06:30.118 [AB]: In all walks of life. 00:00:00.119 --> 01:06:30.119 [SB]: In every walks of life. In politics, there are, go to the White House, there are the lot of Indians. You know, (inaudible) their son was an intern there. Now their daughter is an intern there. So, Indians have made very big impact. And one of the things, Indians are not violent people. Although Indians are bad at cheating, they’re very—but, because their, they go under the radar, they’re occupying lots of high-level positions. Lots of high-level positions. 00:00:00.120 --> 01:06:30.120 [AB]: Any last recommendations for someone who's planning to leave India and come to the United States? 00:00:00.121 --> 01:06:30.121 [SB]: Well, now coming to the United States has become very common. And with this cable television going to India, so when people come here, they know lot about America and their customs, things like that. When I first came, I didn't know anything about it. **laughs** As I said, people used to come to the airport to see off somebody or welcome back somebody. Nowadays, it’s so common that nobody cares. Every household probably has somebody who is living here. 00:00:00.122 --> 01:06:30.122 So, they know, sometimes, they know better than us because, I don’t know. But, one of the things, I think, you should be very sincere in your work, and I think the American system does that. And if you are there, there is lot of opportunity available in this country. And homesickness is probably not that much these days because there are so many Indians. As I said, when I first came, I didn’t know a single person, except the guy who, the boss’s friend, supervisor’s friend, who got me an apartment. But nowadays, everywhere, you can get Indians and even speaking Bengali. **laughs** 00:00:00.123 --> 01:06:30.123 [AB]: Is there anything else you would like to add that we have not talked about? Or you’re okay? 00:00:00.124 --> 01:06:30.124 [SB]: I guess I’m okay, what else I can say. One thing I can say that I have great respect for some of these customs in America. I see their philanthropic attitude, I see their sincerity sometimes, I see the system. I wish India had this kind of system, people, Indian people did so good here, that’s just because of the system. These people when they go back to India, they don’t do that well, because of their system. So, I have great respect for the system here and also for their philanthropy and things like that. 00:00:00.125 --> 01:06:30.125 [AB]: Thank- you, Santida, that was marvelous. Thank-you very much, we will end the talk here.