Hello, and welcome to the Forensics Digest Q & A Session. In this segment, we interview experts and students of forensic science on a host of topics ranging from technical aspects to career soft skills.
Today I have with me, Ms. Smriti Banerjee, who is working as a Scientific Officer in Forensic Science Department, Chennai . She is an alumna of NICFS and has worked in various organizations before joining FSD, Chennai.
Apart from being a passionate forensic science student, she is a trained classical singer.
In this conversation with Ms. Smriti, we will try to find out how she got inclined in this field, career challenges and scope as well as about her passion for singing.
Hello and welcome to Forensics Digest Q&A segment. Let me begin this interview by asking you about your childhood and schooling.
Hi there, I was born in a typical loving traditional Bengali family in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. We had culture and love intertwined in our up bringing. My parents are very simple yet soulful and imbibed the qualities and ethos which goes in making a human being humane. I have a beautiful younger sister who is an engineer by profession. We are lucky to have parents who empowered us to pursue what we believed in and do it till date. Like most children our grandparents had a huge role in the upbringing.
I am brought up in a very musical environment and that is the reason music is so close to me and why I find purpose in life today. I completed my education in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Kanpur and was pretty much an introvert till life gave me a taste of all sorts to make me an ambivert. I also learnt Hindustani Classical music and Bharatnatyam during my school days. My father works in Ordnance Factory, Kanpur and my Mother is a homemaker. What I am today is a result of the confident and independent yet caring and thriving upbringing of my father and the unconditional love my mother and grandparents offered.
What made you think that Forensic Science is the career you want to pursue? Which all other entrance exams did you appear in and which all have you been able to qualify in?
The story of how I really ended up in Forensics is quite interesting. I always wanted to do something different in life. Something which not many people opt for as a career but couldn’t really figure out what it was. One day one of my roommates from Kolkata while packing her stuffs to vacate the pg found a visiting card of one of her relatives who was a well known Criminologist and started telling me about his work and this institute called NICFS in Delhi.
I found this job extremely interesting and thought I should learn more about this field called Forensic Science. Coincidently it was my final year in college n the forms for M.Sc. Forensic Science in NICFS were just out. I applied for it n It was the only entrance exam I appeared for that year. Good for me I cleared it because I never really had a plan B.
That’s amazing to know that you never had plan B and things worked out for you. Coming to your profession, You are currently working in FSL, Chennai as a SO. Tell us about your experience of being a forensic scientist?
This is quite intriguing yet quite dynamic and challenging. I cleared TNPSC and joined FSD, Chennai as Junior Scientific Officer in 2014 and got promoted to as Scientific Officer in 2018. No doubt it is challenging as every case had a nuance to it along with the learning curve it offered which was steep and gratifying. Each case is a mystery in itself and it is extremely satisfying to be able to aid the judiciary in providing justice.
4. How did you prepare for TNPSC?
To be honest I did not prepare for the written exam much except for going through my notes that I had prepared during my M.Sc. in NICFS. I didn’t have much idea about the format of the paper and didn’t have any hope on clearing the same. But once I did clear the first step I was quite certain I will be able to crack the interview n I prepared all the areas of Forensic Biology thoroughly.
But the most challenging part of all was to clear the Tamil language test which was mandatory to pass within 2 years of joining the service. As Tamil was totally a new language for me to learn it took me some time to pick it up n with the help of my colleagues and a lot of hard work I was able to clear the test in my first attempt.
5. What advice would you give to upcoming forensic experts who want to carve their niche in forensic science.
To begin with and as the saying goes its quite easy to advice and I won’t ever want to sound cliché. For me this was a path which found me. thus i followed the instincts and what the gut said. Of course unlike my scenario, the preparation is the key as this does require the testing of your complete skill set and the knowledge acquired, especially if you do not have relevant background. Niche we carve for ourselves lies in the impetus we have and how we look at our work. There will always be dogmas and a set of beliefs when you enter any system. You would be forced to over a period time have skewness in how you look at your cases and your point whilst examining a case might just be blocked by monotony and your peripheral vision to complete things in a haste. For a forensic scientist every case must be new and unique and no matter how mundane and rudimentary it might look.
The niche is created when you click out all the angles of the case and ensure we have a separate vision of look at the simplest case from our perspective as well as challenging the basics of it. Do whatever you are doing with utmost impetus and heart. Every place has people who work for their living and someone who live for their work. Be the latter, give your perspectives, look it from a multidimensional view and over a period of time your niche will automatically be created without you knowing it. We simply have to be relentless, view everything with an inquisitive angle and once you get a hang of it and the passion takes over you are bound to get what you deserve which is the ultimate truth. In the end believing in ourselves, our dreams and more so once you know the truth, the impetus to realize it shall get you to places which ones will seem absolutely improbable and unachievable. Thus be fearless and go for it cause you have to answer only one person and that’s your consciousness being honest about it. Rest shall follow.
6. You are also a singer by hobby, how do you keep your hobby alive along with your profession.
Singing has always been my passion in unison with my work. It has been more than my hobby and has helped me keep the core values intact within me. When you pursue your passion be it work or hobby you don’t actually need time to keep it alive or make separate time for it. We all have the same 24 hours and we while away more than adequate time on things which are quite unproductive.
Singing has automatically kept me focused on my goals and it has kept me going during days when the going was tough. Work is meant to be draining, yet doesn’t entail you to ignore your passion. If you are actually passionate about something and want to keep it going, there is no reason or push required for it. I keep practicing during my off days and also take the stage when time permits to ensure the passion is alight. What is enchanting about singing is that it takes away all the stress and mundanity off me and it will always be my core.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It was a pleasure talking with you, and I am sure our readers will find this post interesting and this would definitely motivate them to work hard towards their goal without making life boring.