Book on life and times of community leader Dr. Sambhu Banik

Author Dr. Sambhu N. Banik speaking after launching his book “From Padma to Potomac: My Life’s Creative Journey” in National Harbor, MD, on April 10, 2022. Also seen are Janki Ganju Educational Foundation President Lalita Kaul (left) and GTV host Nilima Mehra.
Author Dr. Sambhu N. Banik speaking after launching his book “From Padma to Potomac: My Life’s Creative Journey” in National Harbor, MD, on April 10, 2022. Also seen are Janki Ganju Educational Foundation President Lalita Kaul (left) and GTV host Nilima Mehra.

The Bethesda, MD, resident served in the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations.

A book on the life and times of Dr. Sambhu N. Banik, a prominent Indian American community leader in the Washington, DC, area, was released at a glittering ceremony in National Harbor, MD, just outside the U.S. capital, on April 10.

Several influential members of the community from the Greater Washington, DC, area, as well as friends and family members of Banik, attended the event, hosted by local Indian American television network GTV and the Janki Ganju Foundation at the MGM National Harbor.

GTV host Nilima Mehra and president of the Janki Ganju Educational Foundation Lalita Kaul presented a copy of the book to Aruna Miller, running mate of Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, and former member of the state’s House of Delegates.

“From Padma to Potomac: My Life’s Creative Journey” is a collection of newspaper stories on Banik published over several decades, as well as articles by the Bethesda, MD, resident.

Besides Mehra and Kaul, speakers included Aziz Haniffa, former executive editor of India Abroad, Washington-area physician Mandira Mehra and Virginia Republican Punit Ahluwalia.

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Recently, Banik had won the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for his longtime service to the community. The award was presented to him by Maryland Secretary of State John P. McDonough.

Banik’s wife of six decades, Pramila, and their two daughters, Sharmila Banik-Albrechtsen and Kakali Banik, were among those present.

Banik-Albrechtsen, who had recently won the Woman of the Year Award by Wentworth Technical Institute in Boston, delivered the vote of thanks.

Banik, a clinical psychologist, has served in two administrations in the 1980s and ’90s. During his second term, President Reagan nominated him as a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush tapped him to lead the President’s Committee on Mental Health and Mental Retardation, as its executive director.

Banik was born in Joypara, now part of Bangladesh, on November 7, 1935, to Padma Lochan and Kadambini Banik. His family moved to Calcutta during the Partition of India in 1947.

Banik: Need to overhaul mental health services in the US (January 25, 2013)

After obtaining a master’s degree in psychology from Calcutta University in 1958, he pursued a career in business for two years before enrolling for PhD at University of Bristol, in England.

Following the completion of PhD, Banik came to the United States, in 1964, for a post-doctoral program at Norwich Hospital in Connecticut.

In 1966, he moved north of the border to Canada to work as a professor of psychology and director of psychological services at university hospital in Saskatchewan. The same year, he married Pramila, then a young nurse.

Four years later, he moved back to United States after accepting a position at Glenn Dale Hospital in Washington, DC, a city that would become his home for the next 52 years.

In the early ’70s, he joined the District of Columbia Mental Health Administration, where he served till joining the Bush administration.

After leaving the administration in 1992, Banik started his own practice, a family diagnostic and therapeutic center, in Washington, DC.

A lifelong teacher, Banik taught at Bowie State University in Maryland for 41 years.

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