A noted Aligarian and renowned Marine Scientist Prof. Syed Zahoor Qasim, who was the Leader of India’s first expedition to Antactica in 1981-82 passed away today at Delhi.Syed Zahoor Qasim obtained BSc (1949) from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), MSc (1951) also from AMU getting Gold Medal for standing first in the University, and then joined the University as Lecturer (1951). Thereafter, he went to the School of Marine Sciences, University of Wales, UK (1953), and obtained PhD (1956) and DSc (1968). After returning to India, he became Lecturer (1956) and Reader (1957) in the Department of Zoology, AMU; Professor, Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai (1962); Assistant Director, International Indian Ocean Expedition, Cochin (1964); Director, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Cochin (1970); additional charge as Director, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin (1973); Director, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa (1974); and Secretary to Government of India, Department of Environment (1981). He then proceeded to Antarctica as Leader of the First Indian Antarctic Expedition where he successfully landed on 9th January 1982 and hoisted the Indian Flag on the icy continent. Thereafter, he worked as Secretary, Government of India, Department of Ocean Development (1982-88); Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia Central University (1989-91); Member (Science), Planning Commission (1991-96);then (1996-2007) as Chairman, Board of Governors, Delhi Institute of Technology (renamed as Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology) and also as Vice-Chairman, Society for Indian Ocean Studies; and Chairman, Centre for Environmental Studies, New Delhi (2007- ). He is Honorary Professor in fourIndian Universities and received DSc (hc) from Andhra (1987), North Bengal (1992), Sri Venkateshwara (1993) and Banaras Hindu (1995) universities.Academic and Research Achievements: Qasim made pioneering contributions in oceanography andfisheries. He promoted ocean research in its totalityin India and was responsible for building up the infrastructure and facilities for marine and Antarcticresearch. Polar research was non-existent in India till he initiated the work and ensured its growth resulting in processing the data, samples and materials collected from Antarctica.
Qasim was thefirst to indicate the potential role of aquaculture, and the first in promoting the technology of culturedpearls. He also led the first expedition to explore deep sea polymetallic nodules in the Indian Ocean.Awards and Honours: Dr Qasim was conferred Padma Shri (1974), Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award (1978), Lal Bahadur Shastri Award (1988), Padma Bhushan (1982), Oceanology International Lifetime Achievement Award, UK (1999), first National Ocean Science and Technology Award by Government of India (2003-04), Asian Society Gold Medal (2005), SOFTI Biennial Award (2007) by the Society of Fisheries Technologists (India), and Lifetime Achievement Award, Indian Science Congress (2008). He was President of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1983-84) and General President of the Indian Science Congress (1993-94). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).