About Me

About Dr Neelam Batra-Verma

Background

Dr Neelam Batra-Verma is like your next-door neighbour, who you would hardly see unless the weather pushes her outside. Like the extreme winter when it snows, you can find her cleaning her driveway and chatting up with the neighbours. Or when its summer, and the lawn needs to be watered and tended to, you will find her pulling weeds, watering the lawns and tending to her little kitchen garden. Other than that, she hides behind her laptop, writing away, imagining an event in someone else’s life or putting words on paper, reading books or playing with her oil paints in the back yard.

She is an insomniac and every night spends hours, trying to fall asleep. But till she actually does, her brain is at work, thinking about the next chapter of her book, weaving a story, or thinking back on the number of articles published in all 30 years of journalism; about the whereabouts of that victim she had written about long ago or just meditating. Her expertise was always human interest stories and therefore, she invariably cannot stop thinking about the subjects she wrote about and whenever she gets a chance, she tries to trace those people, though mostly in vain.

First Book – 1971: A War Story

Inspiration for her first book came from an article she did years ago about the apathy of governments towards the Missing Prisoners of War during the 1971 Indo-Canadian war. Her research led her to meet the families of missing defence personnel who had gone to the 1971 India-Pak war, but never came back. Despite consistent pleas by the families and evidence that their loved ones were languishing in Pakistan jails and needed to be brought home, both the Indian and Pakistani governments turned a deaf ear.

Spending days and hours talking to the families, she felt the pain and saw with her own eyes the suffering the families were going through – parents waiting for their missing sons, longing to see them just once before they leave for their heavenly abode; wives living like widows despite evidence that their husbands were alive; children growing up not knowing who their father is.

Then just a couple of days before she moved to Canada, a gentleman, who said he was in Pakistan jail for years and was released recently, had come to meet her. He said he was a spy for India but when he was caught, the government of India disowned him and he was very angry. He wanted Neelam to write his story but because she was in the middle of a big relocation of her life, she could not take the time to do so. And eventually, she even lost all his contact information. However, all these years, she could not help but feel guilt for not being able to write his story. The remorse she felt for years had kept her awake all night and had to resort to taking sleeping pills to fall asleep for years till she finished her book.

Also after moving to Canada, she felt the pain of missing family first hand and resolved to put it on record, albeit in fictionalized form. She dedicates this story to all forgotten Bravehearts and their families. Their legends will never die!  The story of the book was weaved in her mind for fifteen years as due to family responsibilities, she could not get down to writing. After her younger son went to University, she finally finished her book, with a hiatus of more than a year when her dad passed away and she could not bring herself to write anything, as her emotions were too strong to overcome. Once the book was finished, she has been sleeping better, mostly without any help from the pills. The book was released in 2019.

When Neelam moved to Canada, she did not realize that the baggage of social evils prevalent in India, was transferred to this country along with the immigrant South Asians. The social evils, which she had left behind, were visibly present and many women were victims of those ills. Neelam tried to highlight those evils of society in her next book along with the problems of settling in a new country. Every event or situation is spiked from true event, either the author’s or friends’ or colleagues.

Journalistic experience

Neelam has been writing professionally for about 30 years and published thousands of articles in national and international mainstream newspapers, magazines as well as producing news bulletins for a 24-hour News channel in India – JAIN TV.  Not many know, but she was the first News producer to produce the first health bulletin in the country way back in 2000, before the concept caught on. Despite earning a Doctorate degree in Forensic Science, she continued with her passion of writing and took up journalism as a career, writing on crime, social and political issues till she moved to Vancouver with her family in 2002. After working for print and electronic media for decades in India and Canada, she successfully published and edited the first Hindi magazine in Canada – The Asian Outlook Magazine.

Hobby

Reading and writing have been childhood hobbies. But painting too was a childhood hobby, which she had to put on the back burner when her kids were born and she had the onerous responsibility of painting their futures. Now that they are old enough to be on their own, she went back to painting, almost relearning everything she had learned before, not in a class but by trial and error. And of course, the now famous Youtube which seems to be a panacea of all problems.

AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS

Neelam was recently awarded the best Long story award by Capilano University. The competition was organized by Short Édition is a French company created in 2011, with an American subsidiary in the US since 2018. There are now more than 20 of them, nestled in Grenoble, at the foot of the Alps, and in Paris. Their team consists of every generation, offering a range of skills, and representing various educational backgrounds, giving them the advantage of an interdisciplinary approach in promoting the age-old craft of storytelling in digital society.

Story The Cycle by author Neelam Batra-Verma, available online since 5 months and 8 days – Nina sat all dressed up, in – Short Édition (short-edition.com)

Education

Neelam is a Ph.D in Forensic Science from Punjabi University. Due to constraints in employment, with preference being given to SC/ST communities in India, she could never bag any secure employment with the Government of India. Ironically, while no such qualified candidates were ever found, yet qualified candidates from general category were never appointed. She was disgusted with the system and took to her passion of writing as a profession.

Currently

At present, Neelam is GOC employee and studying to be a Paralegal, from Capilano University, Vancouver, which she aims to complete by next year.

Neelam is a very restless person, who constantly wants to be doing something different, with an aim of growing intellectually. Whether it is to challenge herself professionally or personally, challenge is her way of life. She constantly wants to challenge herself, always looking for new opportunities.

Neelam studied Hindi for just a year in her school as her father being in Indian Foreign Service, she never got the opportunity to study more. But now, to challenge herself, she recently joined Manasvini, a group of Hindi poets who come together once a month to share their Hindi poems. Neelam too joined the group and now started to write poems in Hindi.

Detailed Resume

  • 1990-1992 – FREE PRESS JOURNAL

Trainee Reporter

Exciting opportunity to work with the elite of the media

 

  • 1992-1993 – INDIAN EXPRESS

Metro Reporter

Used my Forensic education to write crime stories

 

  • 1993-1998, RASHTRIYA SAHARA MAGAZINE

Senior Correspondent

Excellent opportunity to write freely on various issues I have been passionate about like Women, Children, Health, LGBTQ, social and other burning issues of the time.

 

  • 1999-2001 – JAIN TV

News Producer

Every minute of the day was exciting as working in a 24-hour news channel kept me on my toes throughout the day. Was the first in the country to produce a Medical Bulletin in English.

 

  • 2005-2012 – The Asian Outlook Magazine

Editor/Publisher

Published the first Hindi magazine in Canada. Passion is the mission and therefore publishing the magazine was a passion, which I accomplished solely with the help of my husband and family.

 

  • 2012-present – AUTHOR/FREELANCER/BLOGGER

1971 : A War Story

1999-2001 – News Producer
JAIN TV

Every minute of the day was exciting as working in a 24-hour news channel kept me on my toes throughout the day. Was the first in the country to produce a Medical Bulletin in English.

  • 2005-2012 – Editor/Publisher
    The Asian Outlook Magazine

    Published the first Hindi magazine in Canada. Passion is the mission and therefore publishing the magazine was a passion which I accomplished solely with the help of my husband and family.

  • 2012-2018 – Author/freelancer/blogger

    1971 : A War Story