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Indian doctor appointed to President's Bush's committee on mental health

June 25, 2008 08:56 IST

President George W Bush has appointed Dr Sambhu N Banik of Bethesda, Maryland as a member of the President's Committee of People with Intellectual Disabilities, to serve out the remainder of a two-year term, which is expiring in May 2009. Banik is a noted clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology and counseling at Bowie State University in Maryland.
 
Banik served in the administration of the current President's father too, when then President George H W Bush appointed him as the Executive Director of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation in 1990.
 
A longtime community activist and veritable icon in the Washington, DC area in Asian American circles, Banik is a Republican Party stalwart. In 2004, he became the first Indian American to be elected as a delegate from Maryland to the GOP Convention in New York.
 
The president of Banik and Associates, Family Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center in Washington, DC, he received his BSc and MSc degrees from Calcutta University and his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Bristol, England in 1964.
 
After coming to the United States, he did a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical psychology at the Norwich Hospital in Connecticut. He went over to British Columbia in Canada as Director of Psychological Services at the University Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan.
 
Banik then returned to the US and worked in various capacities in the Mental Health Administration of the District of Columbia. In 1987, then President Ronald Reagan appointed him as a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse.

Besides his private practice and professorial duties at the Bowie State University, which he joined in 1972 -- that later became Bowie State University in 1985 and has been teaching in its graduate school since -- Banik is also on the adjunct faculty of the Union Institute of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he advises doctoral students.
 
He has published extensively in the field of psychology and mental health in national and professional journals. In January, he was honoured with the Non-Resident Indian Institute's Bharat Samman-Pravasi Award for 2007 in a gala ceremony in New Delhi for his 'selfless sacrifice and service to the victims of Bhopal with his counseling and psychological expertise during the terrible tragedy in Bhopal when he rushed to Bhopal when the disaster occurred and stayed there for weeks even at grave risk to his own health.'
 
Banik, as part of his unstinting voluntary and community services, also serves as a Commissioner of both the Montgomery County and the State of Maryland Human Rights Commissions. He is also the vice president of the Public Member Association of the US Foreign Service, which evaluates the public service of career foreign service officers.
 
Most recently, Banik, who has probably received more awards and encomiums that any other community leader, was presented with the Most Outstanding Professor Award from the Student Adlerian Society of Bowie State University as 'acknowledgement for continued and tireless leadership and guidance and countless contributions to the Student Adlerian Society.'
 
At the time he received this recent award, he told rediff.com that this  "was the most meaningful in my life because it was the students who voted me for it and largely because in their eyes, I had made a difference in their lives and their futures, as they pursue their professional or academic careers."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC