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Indian American confirmed as human rights commissioner

Last updated on: April 20, 2005 20:36 IST

Dr Sambhu N Banik, a well known community activist from the Washington area, who was nominated by Maryland Governor Robert L Ehrlich Jr to serve as commissioner on the state's Human Relations Commission, has been confirmed by the Maryland Senate's Executive Nominations Committee for a term of four years.

Dr Banik thus becomes the first Indian American in the state to serve as commissioner on the board.

Dr Banik, a clinical psychologist by training, is president of the Family Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center and a Visiting Professor of Psychology and Counseling at the Bowie State University.

A staunch Republican, last year he became the first and only Indian American to date to be elected a delegate to the GOP National Convention in New York. He was executive director of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation in the Department of Health and Human Services during the administration of President George H W Bush (the current US president's father).

The primary goals of the Human Rights Commission are to eliminate discrimination based on race, colour, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, genetic information, physical or mental disability and age.

In this regard, it administers and enforces Maryland's anti-discrimination statutes for housing, employment, and public administration. The Commission also initiates and investigates complaints of discrimination in any state government agency.

Banik, who currenly serves as a commissioner of the Human Rights Commission in Montgomery Country in Maryland, for which post he was appointed by the County Executive Douglas Duncan, told rediff.com, "I am extremely pleased to have been nominated to this very important position by Governor Ehrlich and confirmed by the Maryland Senate, and I feel humbled by this recognition for my many years of service to the community as all of my professional achievements."

"As an avowed advocate on any kind of discrimination, I intend to take my responsibilities as a commissioner very seriously and do my utmost to safeguard the interests of every resident of Maryland from any kind of discrimination, hate crimes or racial profiling," he added.

Governor Ehrlich, in a congratulatory letter to Banik soon after the confirmation, thanked him 'for making the commitment to serve the best interests of our citizens.'

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC