Rakeshwar’s passion for pharmaceutical chemistry has taken him to institutions around the world, and eventually back to his home country, India.
Rakesh shares his experiences of practising Hinduism alongside a scientific career.
A childhood fantasy
Rakesh remembers his childhood years - part of a large, poor family in the small village of Tikar, located near one of India’s largest cities, Lucknow - as a difficult time. Growing up he had a deep interest in Hindu scripture, and was encouraged by his father both to practise Hinduism and remain dedicated to education. Rakesh says he wanted to become a doctor, a plan that had started as a childhood fantasy: “I understood the significance of doctors in society, but was always curious about the most integral part of the profession – the medicine, and how to make it”. At the age of 16, Rakesh became interested in the field of pharmacology, which would mark the beginning of his successful career.
After obtaining a scholarship to study chemistry at the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, Rakesh moved to Germany to complete his PhD at the University of Regensburg. He then uprooted again for multiple postdoctoral positions in the USA, at both the University of Pennsylvania and Texas A&M University, before returning to India. At this point, Rakesh felt a lack of interest within the local scientific community towards chemistry, and wanted to share the learning experience he was grateful to receive from living and working abroad.
“My time overseas provided me with knowledge and experience of the scientific world and culture, which I now convey to those who may not have had the means to travel or the opportunities that I have had”.
Rakesh is now working for Dr Reddy’s laboratories, a pharmaceutical company based in Hyderabad, where his role allows him to work in each stage of product development, from synthesis design to the large scale manufacturing of the medicine and managing the delivery for patients. He is still surprised by the hard work and commitment that is required to make molecules for medicinal purposes.
Chemistry and religion
Rakesh says he has never felt the need to choose between science and his faith, and describes having faith as a scientist as providing him with a ‘better equipped toolbox’.
“I don’t believe that there are precise lines between science and religion. Religious philosophies and great learning from Hinduism can be adopted towards improving research and corporate productivity”.
Rakesh hopes to continue his focus on mentoring those who have had fewer opportunities than him, and advises those aiming for a career in chemistry not to worry and to “take it as a challenge”.
Words by Rakeshwar Bandichhor and Florence Greatrix
Images courtesy of Rakeshwar Bandichhor
Published January 2016