Indian-American businessman and Padma Bhushan awardee Swadesh Chatterjee was appointed by the State Assembly to serve on the Board of Governors of North Carolina University on May 3. He will assume the position starting July 1, 2023, for a four-year term.
Chatterjee is known for having reinforced the U.S.-India relationship over the past three decades. Apart from that he is the blueprint for making it big and living up to the American dream despite coming from nothing. For the unversed, Chatterjee had US$35 in his pocket when he set foot in America sometime in 1979 with his wife and young daughter. 15 years later, he was the owner of a company and earned the reputation of being a successful entrepreneur.
In October last, the state of North Carolina, honoured Chatterjee with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award to be presented by the state. His involvement in conditioning ties between the two countries was reiterated at the event by Governor Ray Cooper, who described Chatterjee as a “spark plug among us.”
Born in West Bengal, India Chatterjee was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in the country, in 2001. He was the first Indian-American from North Carolina to be presented with the honor, and the first Indian-American to receive the award in the public affairs category.
Chatterjee presides on the board of several life science, biotechnology, and medical device companies in the U.S., Europe, and India, aside from being the vice chair of the Chancellor’s Global Leadership Council at the University of N.C. from where he received his Master of Business Administration.
Chatterjee also authored a book titled Building Bridges: How Indian Americans Brought the United States and India Closer Together. Published in 2014, the memoir talks about his role in facilitating conversations between India and the U.S. despite years of Cold War misunderstandings. He played a key role in the signing of the India-U.S. nuclear agreement also known as the 123 Agreement which paved the way to end India’s three-decade-long nuclear isolation.