By Afzal Usmani
When I studied "Qutb-e-Junoobi ki Mohim" lesson in class VIII Urdu course, never thought I will get the opportunity to meet the leader of the expedition Dr. Syed Zahor Qasim. I met him in AMU Aligarh sometime in 90s when he was member of Planning Commission of India.
Here is brief life sketch.
Born : 27th December 1926, Allahabad (UP) India
Died : 20th October, 2015 in Delhi
Father : Syed Zamir Qasim
Wife : Nawabzadi Begum Sahiba of Rampur. A royal dissident of Nawab of Rampur.
Brother: Dr. Syed R. Qasim, Professor Emeritus, University of Texas, Arlington. Dr. S.R. Qasim had completed his B.Sc. Engineering (Civil) in 1957 from Aligarh Muslim University.
1949 : B.Sc. AMU Aligarh
1951 : M.Sc. (Zoology), AMU Aligarh with First Position
1956 : D.Sc. & Ph.D. University Coll of North Wales, UK
Secretary, Gymnasium Club, AMU Aligarh
Joint Secretary, Games Committee, AMU Aligarh
1951 : Lecturer, Department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh
1957 : Reader, Department of Zoology, AMU Aligarh
1962-64: Professor, Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Bombay
1964 :Assistant Director, The Directorate of International Indian Ocean
Expedition (IIOE) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
1970-73:Director, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Cochin
1974 :Director, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa
1976 :Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore
1977 :Fellow, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi
Fellow, Indian National Science Academy, Bangalore
President, Indian National Academy
1976-80:Chairman. Working Committee of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
1981 :Secretary, Department of Environment (DOE), Government of India
1981 :Leader of India's First Expedition to the Antarctica.
1982 :Founding Secretary, Department of Ocean Development
1989-91:Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Vice-Chairman, Society for Indian Ocean Studies
Chairman, Society for Indian Ocean Studies
Chairman, World Environment Foundation
1991-96:Member, Planning Commission of India
1995 :Member, Dr. D. Swaminadhan Research Foundation (DSRF)
2003 :Fellow, Third World Academy of Sciences
Honorary Fellow, Muslim Association for the Advancement of Science, Aligarh
Honorary Member, Asian Fisheries Society
1974 : Padam Shiri
1975 : Chandra Hora Memorial Medal
1975 : Golden Jubilee Trust Gold Medal
1982 : Padam Bhushan
Honorary Professor at Aligarh Muslim University, Madurai Kamraj University, Anna Malai University, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, Jamia Millia Islamia.
The Indian Ocean: Images and Realities
Biodiversity of Mangrove Ecosystems
Living Resources of India's Exclusive Economic Zone
Indian Ocean in the 21st Century: Linkages and Networking Proceedings of an International Seminar Held in New Delhi on 9 and 10 February 1998
Science and Quality of Life
Glimpses of the Indian Ocean
India's Exclusive Economic Zone: Resources, Exploitation, Management
Sardar Patel Memorial Lectures, 1989, Ocean - The Future Hope of Mankind
Dr Syed Zahoor Qasim was born on 27th December 1926 at Allahabad, UP. He completed his early education in Allahabad and joined Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1947. During his student life, he was resident of Muzammil Hostel in Viqarul Mulk Hall (VM Hall). He took his B.Sc. in 1949 and M.Sc. degree in Zoology in 1951. He stood first in the order of Merit for which he was awarded University Gold Medal. For a few years, he was a lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Aligarh before proceeding to the United Kingdom for higher studies in 1953. He returned to India in December of 1956 and joined the Department of Zoology of AMU as a Lecturer. He became Reader in 1957 and started a new laboratory of Fish and Fisheries in the Department.
In 1962, he joined the Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Bombay (Mumbai) as a Professor of Fisheries Biology and in 1964, moved to Cochin as Assistant Director in the Directorate of International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Here he extensively worked on biological oceanography especially on the primary productivity of Kerala Backwaters and on the atolls of Lakshadweep. From 1970 to 1973, Dr. Qasim was the Director of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Cochin. He also held the additional charge of the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin for about one year. Here he promoted new lines of work in Fisheries Biology and initiated the development of mussel culture and pearl culture techniques for the first time in India. This work earned him the prestigious award of "Padma Shri.". In January 1974, he took over as the Director of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa. In February 1976 he was responsible for the commissioning of the first Oceanographic Research Vessel Ganeshani for NIO. He initiated many new programs on the productivity of the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
In May 1981, Dr. Qasim was appointed Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Environment (DOE) and within a year (April 1982) he took over as Secretary of the newly established Department of Ocean Development. He has been responsible for the acquisition of a second Oceanographic Research Vessel "Sagar Sampada" for the Indian Oceanographic research. Dr. Qasim led India's First Expedition to the Antarctica and successfully organized and guided the other seven expeditions to the frozen continent from 1981 to 1988. His work on Fisheries Biology, primary productivity, mari-culture particularly mussel and pearl culture, estuarine ecology, environmental pollution and Antarctic research will always be quoted profusely. He has published more than 200 original research papers in national and international journals. For his original work and distinguished services, he won many honors and awards. He led many delegations of India in several international conferences and meetings.
Dr. Qasim is a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, Indian academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad, among many others. Under his guidance nearly 40 students obtained their Ph.D. degrees from various universities in India. He is Editor for several journals and member of the Editorial Boards of many national and international scientific journals. he is an Honorary Professor of several Universities including Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Annamalai University, Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (Chennai) in Tamil Nadu, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh and the Jamia Millia Islamia(University) in Delhi.
Dr. Qasim played a key role to establish Dr. D. Swaminadhan Research Foundation (DSRF) with the help of his colleagues Prof. Dr. D. Swaminadhan and Dr. Jayant Patil. Dr. D. Swaminadhan Research Foundation (DSRF) is a non-profit and non-governmental forum established in 1995 with the laudable objective of contributing towards development based on eco-friendly, pro-poor and gender equity parameters. It is registered as a Society and as a Trust under Indian Societies and Trusts acts. Social Action, sustainable development, social empowerment, application of advancements in science & technology for rural development and promotion of human values are the focus. The Foundation has been recognised by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (SIRO) and by the Ministry of Finance for the purpose of Income Tax Exemption. DSRF is also registered with Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India under the Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act of 1976.
Dr. Qasim is blessed with three daughters and lives in New Delhi.
On December 29, 2009 Professor Syed Zahoor Qasim presented a cheque of Rs. three lakh to Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis for the award of scholarship and Gold Medal.The Scholarship and Gold Medal may be awarded from the next academic year to the student who secures highest marks in the final year exam of M. Sc. (Zoology).