Teachers’ Diary: Giving up a lucrative job in South Korea, a botanist returned home to teach students in India
Siddharth Kumar Mishra did post-doctoral research on stomach and intestinal cancer at the National Cancer Centre, Gachon University in South Korea. He had a comfortable life and a well paying job, which he gave up to teach students in India and spread awareness about cancer in rural India.
Siddharth Kumar Mishra 3 April 2023 11:51 AM GMT
My grandfather, Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Mishra, was a great advocate of education even though he came from a line of farmers. More than 50 years ago, he set up the Pundit Yogheshwar Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, in Banspar village in Maharajganj district, Uttar Pradesh. I was also born in that village in 1980. That has always been a source of great inspiration for me to study and study more. After which I wanted to do something for the children of my own country.
I completed my Bachelors of Science in Biology at the Gorakhpur University in 1998 after which I did my Masters in Biochemistry from Lucknow University, and graduated in 2001. I wanted to study some more and I earned my PhD in Biochemistry from CSIR- Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Lucknow. I then joined the GB Pant Hospital in Delhi as a research associate and did research on liver cancer, between 2008 and 2010.
I was fortunate to get the opportunity to travel abroad to work at the National Cancer Centre, Gachon University in South Korea between 2010 and 2013, for post-doctoral research on stomach and intestinal cancer.
When I was in South Korea, it dawned on me why everyone back home clamoured to study abroad. The South Korean government generously funds and supports research. Things needed for research are easily available to scholars. I know how long it took us to clear bureaucratic hurdles in India just to get permission to use certain chemicals in the lab. It took months sometimes.
Even as I was doing my research in South Korea, I had decided I would return to my country. It was not an easy decision as I was drawing a salary that was thrice what I earned as a postdoctoral research associate in India.
Nevertheless, I came back to India and in 2013 joined as assistant professor at the Dr Harisingh Gaur Vishwavidyalaya at Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. I was there till 2020 after which I joined Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur as an associate professor in life sciences. In May 2022, I shifted to Lucknow University as professor of Biochemistry.
It is not just enough to obtain or impart education. So, I have been spreading awareness about cancer in rural areas. I conduct workshops there and I believe that is very important as the number of cancer-afflicted people is huge in rural India. This is partly because of lack of awareness about cancer and of course, because of the very expensive nature of cancer treatment. I would like to change that as much as I can.
I also take time off from my work and go to my village to tutor children there and motivate them to study more.
Mishra has been awarded the MS Swaminathan Young Botanist Award in 2014 by the Indian Botanical Society.
As told to Danish Iqbal, an intern with Gaon Connection.
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