Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Amar Sinha: An IITian Journey from Bilbari to Paris

By Ranita Sinha, Kolkata

One day on an usual visit to a Bishnupriya Manipuri house, my eyes fell on a book. A small thin white coloured book with the title- “ From Bilbari to Paris - Professional Biography of an IITian”. The book is written by Upasana Sinha.

Amidst curiosity I picked up the book and started reading it. It was about Sri Amar Sinha, a Bishnupriya Manipuri IITian in the 50's. I got so thrilled after reading the book that i thought of sharing what ever little I can with all of you. As I believe, like me most of us are not aware of this jewel of our community. We all know what Indian Institute Technology is all about, and what the status it carries in India and abroad.

But before writing about Sri Amar Sinha, I would like to write a few lines about Smt. Upasana Sinha, the author. Upasana Sinha, wife of Sri Deepak Sinha and eldest daughter-in-law of Sri Dilip Sinha and Smt. Promila Sinha of Kailashar, Tripura is a faculty in the Department of Chemistry, Nagaland University. She joined Nagaland University in the year 2003 after completing her Ph.D in Chemistry from IIT, Guwahati. She wrote this biography when she went to visit her maternal uncle-in-law, Sri Amar Sinha in Madrid, Spain in January 2005.

Sri Pramod Kumar Sinha, father of Amar Sinha was a police officer during the British regime. Among his eight children, Amar Sinha was the second. He was an origin of village Bilbari of Patherkandi in Karimganj district, Assam. As Sri Promod Sinha was transferred to different places during his service tenure, in the year 1937 Amar Sinha was born at Kamalpur, a place some distance away from Guwahati. Amar Sinha was fondly called Godon by his family members.

Amar Sinha started his school life from Guwahati. As his father had a transferable job he had to change lot of schools. He studied in Guwahati, Rangia, Bilbari, Sylhet (Bangladesh), Dharmanagar and Shillong. He passed out his matriculation examination from Jail Road Bengali High School in the first division. Then he joined St. Edmund's College, Shillong and passed out I.Sc course acquiring the 39th position in the whole of Assam in the year 1953. After that he enrolled for B.Sc ( Physics, Chemistry, Maths) but did not complete it as he joined the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur, the oldest and the first IIT.

Amar Sinha had to face restrictions from his father to procure his IIT degree; because he wanted his son to complete his B.Sc first and also because they were not rich enough to support his studies. But it was Amar Sinha's childhood dream to study engineering from IIT Kharagpur. So, he moved ahead to fulfil his dream and in the mean time the scholarship he was getting after matriculation was enhanced and thus he did not find any monetary problems.

As Amar Sinha was an inborn talent he did not find any difficulty in completing the course. He completed the course attaining a first class. During the time his course was in progress he appeared at an interview at Deheradun Military Academy to join as an electro mechanical engineer. He was selected and was supposed to join after completing his course. But after his course he did not join the job because he wanted to study further and he knew very well that once he joins the military service he would not be able to continue his studies. He rather preferred to join as a Lecturer in Assam Engineering College.

He enjoyed the first year of his teaching career in Assam Engineering College. But he was a professionally adventurous person and from the second year he started feeling bore. He desperately wanted a change in his job. In the mean time he saw two advertisements in the newspaper- one was the French Government Fellowship for practical training in engineering and the other was for pilot officer in Indian Air Force. He applied for both and was selected for both the positions. As his family wanted him to go to France so he resigned from Assam Engineering College and headed for France.

In the year 1961 he set sail for Europe. He first flew from Guwahati to Calcutta by Indian Airlines and from Calcutta to Paris by Air France. After reaching Paris, all the students were sent to Besaan Besacou University for two months to learn the French language. After that all the students were asked to decide which degree they wanted to pursue. Amar Sinha wanted to do a doctorate degree but for that he had to leave Paris and he did not wanted to leave Paris. So, he rather joined the Institute Superior des Materio et Constructio Mechanic for a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering. The course got over in the year 1963.

After the course was over Amar Sinha was ready to come back to India. Before coming back he went to watch a movie named Aimez Brahms filmed in Paris. The film showed all the beautiful sights of Paris and he fell in love with the beauty and made up his mind to stay back.

Amar Sinha joined a French Company as a design engineer in the year 1963. There he was not given routine job but was given new problems all the time and he enjoyed it. But as it was mentioned earlier that he was a professional hunger, he was not satisfied with what he was doing. So, he left the job and joined Renault France in April 1964 and served there till 1968. In 1969 Renault Engineering Company created the 'Systems Economics' Department and Amar Sinha with two colleagues jointly headed the department. There Amar Sinha's team had developed a public transport system which was partly bus and partly train. The train part was automatic and it functions without a driver. The transport system could not be made fully automatic as people would get scared when they would see an automobile moving without any driver, especially at night. This transport system is still seen in the streets of Ville Nouvell D'evry, a town near Paris.

Than in the year 1969 he resigned from Renault Paris and joined Renault Spain and he shifted his base from Paris to Spain. In the mean time he was busy with other assignments too – like engine project in Algiers and Venezuela, design of public transport system in France, purchasing inventory system of Renault in Spain, projects for setting up of machine tool factories in Thailand and Malaysia etc. All this assignments took place between 1969 to 1974. Amar Sinha was the proud designer of Renault 18. In November 1973, his brain child Renault 18 was launched in Spain.

But Amar Sinha's professional journey was not smooth at all. At every step he faced restrictions from his colleagues. But he was a born winner. So, he never looked back and achieved whatever he wanted to achieve. Amar Sinha retired from Renault Spain in the nineties as one of the directors of the company.

This biography does not say much about Amar Sinha's personal life. It only mentions that he was married to Nermin and has two children - Ela and Arun and they stay in Madrid. Wife Nermin has her own business. Their daughter Ela is married to a well-established dentist, Paco and has two lovely children Borcha and Alexandra. Son Arun works for a water sports company which is based in Spain, Portugal and France and is married to lawyer Ana.

Thus, it is a small effort from my part to introduce you all with a Bishnupriya Manipuri IITian who went all the way from Bilbari to Paris to fulfil his dream. I thank Upasana for writing such a lovely piece and allow us to know about such a talented person of our community.
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