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Speakbindas interviews Dr. Kanak Raval

Dr. Kanak Raval with wife Bharatiben

Dr. Kanak Raval is the son of renowned late“Kalaguru” Ravishankar M. Raval who founded magazine ‘Kumar’ that is devoted to ‘Tomorrow’s citizens’ and an art-school to encourage others to pursue art-carriers. Born in 1930 having roots in Bhavnagar. He was born and brought up in Ahmadabad. Now enjoys the retired life with his wife Bharati in Portland, OR, USA.

He got his degrees of B.Pharm from L.M.College of Pharmacy, Amdavad, and M.S. Pharmacy from University of Michigan and Ph.D. Pharmacy from University of Iowa, and worked in the areas of Pharmaceutical Production, Research and Administration.

Q. Tell us about your journey of from India to USA. How and when it happened.

A. Soon after passing my B.Pharm degree from the L.M.College of Pharmacy, Amdavad in 1951, I was offered two opportunities. One was a lecturer’s job at the Pharmacy College with a monthly salary of Rs.300 and another was an entry level Analytical Chemist at Sarabhai Chemicals with a monthly salary of Rs.30+Rs.86 DA=Rs 116. I selected the industry job for its challenges. Soon that choice caused rethinking on my part and wondered if I should look for further academic pursuits. Those were trying months for decision making. I applied for admission in the medical college, got it and backed away for the time and costs involved for the degree. I had also applied at a number of highly rated Pharmacy Colleges in USA.I decided to invest my resources into furthering my Pharmaceutical qualifications. I boarded the Italian ship MV Australia at Mumbai on August15, 1952 and reached New York on September 10, 1952.  I got MS (Pharmacy) in 1953 from the Michigan University and Ph.D. (Pharmacy) in 1956 from the Iowa University.


MV Australia” Sailed for USA, on August 15, 1952.

Graduated from University of Michigan 1952

Graduated from University of Michigan 1952.

I returned to India and joined Sarabhai Chemicals, Vadodara as a Production Executive and worked there until 1966. By then I was married happily with Bharati Pandya. She was the daughter of my father’s close friends Nanasaheb and Vidyaben Pandya of Bhavnagar. We had three sons who continued to grow up in Vadodara but shall I say that the planets had thought of a change of life for us? USA immigration laws opened up Asian immigration in 1965 and I moved to USA with the family on June 29, 1966.

Q. How was your early life when you migrated to USA?

A. Because of my qualifications and the professional experience, I joined the McKesson Labs of Norwalk, CT as a Laboratory Director, then moved over to Bristol Labs and then finally retired in 1992 from the Block Drug Company as a Vice President of Research.

Laboratory-Director-McKesson-Labs-1966 Laboratory Director, McKesson Labs 1966.Socially there was an adjustment period. Our three sons did not know English language and took them some time to catch up with the American school system.

TV cartoons helped them in learning English as there was no “Sesame Street” on TV then. Each one of them did a good job and eventually graduated from MIT, Rutgers and Oregon universities, respectively.

Q. Being a writer, which are the Medias you write for? Which are your favorite areas for writing?

A.To date, my write-ups have been published in KUMAR, Kishor Desai’s GURJARY DIGEST and Ananadrao Lingayat’s GUNJAN. Mostly I write in Gujarati with stray notes in English.I enjoy reading ancient history. I like to look for historical footnotes and create short stories around them.

Q.Your father Shri Ravishankar M. Raval founded Kumar magazine. Do tell us more about the magazine and activities it covers.

A. KUMAR started as an Avant-garde magazine. My father has given a detailed account of its genealogy in his autobiography: “GUJARATMA KALANA PAGRAN”, Page 217).Haji Mahomad Alarakhia started his VISMI SADI magazine in Mumbai in 1916 (Click http://www.gujarativisamisadi.com/). My father had just started his career as a professional artist.Haji Mahomad became his mentor and a very close friend. My father as well as a large number of Gujarati writers and artists such as K.M.Munshi and my father learned their ropes under Janab Haji Alarakhia’s tutelage. Hajji passed away prematurely on January21, 1921 and his VISMI SADI also ended with that. It left a huge vacuum in high grade Gujarati publishing and journalism. My father took this to heart and resolved to fill that loss by launching KUMAR in 1924, which is still up, and running for 85 years.

Q. Do share with us, some of the precious memories you had with your father.

A. My father was my hero and I had a very special and close relationship with him. He broadened my horizons. He exposed me to a wide variety of subjects such as Natural Sciences,Medicine,Arts,History,Anthropology,Archeology,Detective Fiction, Science Fiction,Literature,Humanity,Religions without once suggesting a preference of one over the other. He was like a University. I have narrated him in details in an article (Bapu’s Vishva Vidyalay).Though as a child I dabbled in painting and sculpturing, choosing the profession of Pharmaceutical Sciences was entirely my decision, which he fully endorsed. He was a Humanist. He respected traditions but was ready to explore new tracks the moment he found the rational ways becoming hindrances in his life progress. See http://ravishankarmraval.org/. He was very innovative. In 1949, he as an artist and Professor Y.G.Naik as a Physicist gave talks on the phenomenon of Light at Gujarat College. It was a unique experiment to teach how the same Natural phenomenon could be studied from different vantage points. I wish it was recorded.

Q. What is your take on the present Gujarati generation in USA? In addition, their knowledge, awareness and love about Gujarati language and their affection to their native in Gujarat?

A. I am quite pessimistic about the survival of Gujarati and the second and further generations of NRIs in USA where I have spent over 50 % of my life. Yes, there are pockets of Gujarati activities such as literary discussions and magazines but the spoken Gujarati for social communication is on its way to extinction. Relatively, the Indian immigrants to Africa and UK seem to have done a better job in keeping the language alive.

Q. What are your hobbies? Among them, which ones you are passionate about?

A.As a younger person my extracurricular activities were Dramatics, Music, Yogic traditions and Science related matters. I was never a sports person. My wife and I spend good amount of time with the local senior groups, art groups, local library and the Humanist Society.

Q. Now that you are retired, how do you enjoy your life? In addition, how does it feel, when you look back at the years you have lived?

A. Yes I do enjoy life. Best way of doing it is to live in the moment. I have accepted the dictum “Yesterday was History, tomorrow is a Mystery but today is God’s Gift”. Only part the past pays is being your teacher if you care to look back.

Q. What would be the one thing or event that you wish to have changed in your life? And, why?

A.I could not have asked for anything better than the family I was given birth into, as the rest was my own doing for successes and failures. Often the thoughts have crossed my mind if I was born in Japan or Sweden, as those societies have impressed me for their vitality.

One interesting possibility existed once for my growth period. Returning from his three months of art tour of Japan in 1936.

I was 6 years old then, my father had the dream to go back to Japan and take me along for my High School and the University studies while he perused his art career there.

Well, the China-Japan war started on July 3, 1937 and the Japanese dream faded away.

Age 6-Japan dream faded!

Age 6-Japan dream faded!

Q. Who else is in your family?

A.I am the only youngest son alive of three sons of my parents. Of course, now my wife Bharati, our three sons with their wives, two grandsons and three granddaughters constitute my family. Besides, there are my first and second cousins with their families All now living in USA.

Q. Your favorite food? In addition, favorite books?

A.I do have a sweet tooth but I do prefer the Indian sweets with Shri Khand and Halvasan competing for the first place. Alu and Bhindi curries I enjoy. I have read and continue to read English and Gujarati books. If I have to choose K.M.Munshiji’s historical trilogy (Gujaratno Nath,Patanani Prabhuta, Raja Dhiraj) and Conon Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are my favorite ones.

Q. We thank you for getting time for writing answers for our interview. Any special message you would like to share with us.

A. I do not have any specific message for you. As such, you are doing OK but the following thought came to my mind.

Satire and humor are effective tools if applied skillfully to drive home many unpalatable issues  .
Some of our cartoonists such as “Chakor”, “R.K.Lakshman”, and “Shani” have set good examples.

My father created a travelling exhibition in 1940s called “Sansar Chitravali” pointing out the social evils of our society. It was a set of 50 posters depicting child marriages, large population, and low literacy etc.It went from village to village free. Only postal expenses were charged. I think it is now at the art school of Vallabh Vidyanagar.


Devang Vibhakar is the Founder and Editor of www.SpeakBindas.com. He has interviewed more than 350 people. His effort was recognized by Limca Book of Records, twice. He has been to Scotland as well as Germany as part of vocational & cultural exchange programs and has compiled five books so far. He's passionate about bringing forth interesting stories & interviews of entrepreneurs to avid readers of SpeakBindas. He can be reached here.

9 thoughts on “Speakbindas interviews Dr. Kanak Raval

  1. Jadav Patel says:

    Kanakbhai, I agree with your thought on Gujarati Generation of USA. Only possible effort the parents can do is, keep the Gujarati language spoken at home.

    Nice interview, Devangbhai. Loved reading.

  2. Good to see and read your views. LIFE is neighter so small nor very short. One can always keep doing what s/he loves to for selfsatisfaction which will surely result into what is good and RIGHT for the community.

  3. Harnish Jani says:

    Devangkumar-You have done a nice job in getting very interesting answers-Kanakbhai is a treasure of Gujarati culture and language-and a man of morals. This interview is a tip of the iceburg-To know him-his family background one should readGujaratma Kalana pagaran by Shri Ravishanker Raval.(his father)-
    Thank you for nice interview–

  4. Suparna says:

    This is surely good work, continue the legacy. Its never too late to keep our roots intact.

    Thank you for the article.

  5. Nice interview of an interesting person.

  6. piyush modi says:

    I am very much pleased to read that u r a citizon of Bristol . I am sending my son to study his
    P. G in Bristol University. Sir, I want to have certain information and suggestion from U .
    1) How is the Uni . of Bristol for doing P.G in microelectronics ?
    2) How many Gujarati families are there in Bristol ?
    3) what are the charges for private accomodation near Bristol Uni. within a range of hardly 10
    minutes walk ?
    4) Is it possible to get a place with Gujarati family for stay and food ? If yes, then what is the
    approximate expense ?
    Hope u will answer my quaries in a day or two.
    Thanking U.
    piyush Modi

  7. Dr. Kanak Raval says:

    “Dear Shri Piyushbhai:

    There is little confusion here. I never went to Bristol University. But I was a Research Scientist at
    the Bristol Labs at Syracuse,NY USA. I am not a citizen of Bristol town. Sorry I can not help you but wish
    all the success to your son in his studies. I suggest that you contact the Foreign Students Affairs office at the Bristol University who should be able to guide you to the local Foreign Students Associations.

  8. YOURWAY Migrations was established in 2009 with the sole purpose of guiding individuals accomplishes their education and immigration goals with ease and without much ado. Initially we started with few main countries and coaching of foreign languages.

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