Interview with Dr. Indranil Samanta
Dr. Indranil Samanta
Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Microbiology
West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey with us?
The journey begins with kindergarten in Kolkata where I was staying with my parents, grandma, uncles, and cousins in a small house with lots of fun. My father, an engineer, was promoted and transferred later to an industrial town near Kolkata and I was admitted into St. Xavier’s school, Haldia.
The place was a picture postcard besides Haldi river with eye-soothing greeneries and children parks. The time flew like a jet with a strict school curriculum, co-curriculums, respected teachers who spent time patiently to nourish my plus points and fix the negative ones.
I made few friends who are still showering their good wishes in my journey. I learnt a lot from my friends other than the school. For example, the cycling was taught by one of my friend which is one of the best gifts received. I passed high-school and higher secondary from West Bengal board with star marks (> 75%) in aggregate and letter marks (>80%) in few subjects such as mathematics, life science and geography.
Soon I felt that the marks are not very important in the life when I missed the rank in joint entrance examination for admission into medical / engineering courses. I admitted in agriculture sciences, and later switched to veterinary sciences at Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya at Mohanpur (Nadia, West Bengal).
In 1995 the new veterinary university was formed at Belgachia (Kolkata) and it was named as West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences and I graduated from this University in 1999. During my internship I realized the need of post-graduation (M.V.Sc.) from the national Institute such as Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), still considered as Macca of veterinary education in India. I cracked Indian Council of Agricultural Research -Junior Research Fellowship (ICAR-JRF) examination and secured 20th rank in India.
I admitted into my dream Institute (IVRI) with fellowship to pursue M.V.Sc. in veterinary bacteriology. The people told me that bacteriology is an ancient subject which is dying and the career options are getting limited. During my study and interaction with my respected teachers at IVRI, I understood that this is the basic and core subject of microbiology and without it the modern subjects like biotechnology/molecular biology has no existence.
I enjoyed the course work and research conducted as a part of MVSc. During those sunny days the Institute was filled with many students and scientists from my native state and we worked together like a big family including Durga Puja, annual picnic and cultural events! I completed my degree in time and also qualified national eligibility test (NET) twice conducted by both Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
I qualified IVRI PhD entrance examination and was admitted into PhD program. After completion of first semester there was a sudden change in my career. I casually applied for the post of Assistant Professor-cum-Junior Scientist at SK University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir but got selected with additional financial benefit.
I joined the University during 2002 and found a sophisticated departmental laboratory with enthusiastic students and colleagues. Soon I became engaged in research works to explore zoonotic infections in Kashmir valley such as STEC, EPEC, and Rotavirus and animal infections causing serious financial losses in local sheep industry like foot rot.
I was staying in the campus with few friends who joined with me and started to spend the whole day literally in the laboratory. The place was very remote besides the mountain range and the basic facilities were absent with infrequent power supply.
But my research graph grew in a straight curve with several publications in veterinary associated international journals with moderate to high impact factor. Ultimately I have to come back to my native state to join the service of Government veterinary officer to satisfy parental demands who always remained anxious due to political unrest of Kashmir valley.
Later I joined West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, Kolkata where I am currently working and completed my PhD from this University. Currently I am engaged in exploring antimicrobial resistance in livestock and birds, their transmission dynamics and social drivers acting on antibiotic prescriptions in collaboration with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Royal Veterinary College (UK).
Q2. What did attract you towards Veterinary Sciences?
I like mystery from the childhood. Veterinary science is still not explored fully which attracts me the most. Moreover, the science caters two way caring system to the society by stretching the hand of relief to the speechless creatures and their anxious owners. Livestock plays important role in GDP of a country through the production of meat, milk, eggs and their products. It provides employment and social security, women empowerment and food security to the society.
Q3. What kind of hurdles did you face in your journey?
Employment is not an issue in Veterinary science, probably the only career option in the country which guarantees cent percent employment. I never faced employment crisis during the journey. During my initial days of undergraduate when I selected veterinary science as the future career I faced few social stigmas from my friends and relatives, associated with gross negligence about the subject. Currently those friends and relatives became a great fan of my career!
Q4. What are the main reasons that Animal and Fishery Science is not too much in limelight?
India is an agrarian country with more than 65% of people engaged in agriculture and rearing of livestock. Agriculture and livestock share in Indian GDP is nearly 17% and 4%, respectively with an increasing trend. Poultry industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the country even after the current pandemic and lockdown.
Unemployment is the word never heard by the veterinary graduates in the country. Under these circumstances, I totally disagree with the fact that veterinary science is not coming under the so called limelight.
Q5. Which one thing do you want to change in yourself and why?
I have a ‘badly’ good memory which never helped me to forget the sorrows I faced in the past. I want to reduce the memory power and I am waiting for the nerve cells to become aged and degenerated.
Q6. What are the main career options for any graduate from Animal and Fishery Science?
The Veterinary and Fishery graduates can join state / central Government services as veterinary officer/ livestock officer / fishery officer through public service commission. All administrative (including IAS/IPS/ State cadres) and banking recruitment examinations are open to them where they face comparative less competition than the general stream students.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recruit veterinary / fishery post-graduates (MVSc/MFSc and Ph.D.) as scientists with a lucrative pay package.
The state and central agricultural / veterinary/ fishery universities recruit assistant professors in concerned subject throughout the year. The aspirants can move abroad for higher studies where they are absorbed in different positions. The poultry, pharmaceutical and fish industry recruits a lots of veterinary / fishery post graduates every year with a substantial pay.
Q7. How do you excel students in their academics and career?
I like innovativeness and questioning ability of the students related to the subject matter.
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