Prof. S Z Qasim: The First Indian To Set Foot On Frozen Continent Antarctica

By: Dr. Shah Ayaz Siddiqui, Editor-In-Chief-ICN Group

The First Indian Antarctic Expedition where Prof. S Z Qasim successfully landed on 9th January 1982 and hoisted the Indian Flag on the frozen continent.

Renowned Marine Biologist Prof. S Z Qasim, who first made way to the frozen continent Antarctica in 1981-82, and successfully organized and guided the next the seven expeditions, pioneered in Fisheries Biology, mari-culture, estuarine ecology, environmental pollution and Antarctic research.

Prof. S Z Qasim was born on December 31, 1926 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. He began his schooling from Majidia Islamia Intermediate College Allahabad  and later joined Aligarh Muslim University from where he completed his B.Sc. in 1949 and M.Sc. (Zoology) in 1951 with first position at AMU.

After completing his M.Sc., he was appointed as lecturer in the department of Zoology in 1951 and promoted as Reader (associate professor) in 1957. In 1956 he completed his D.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from University College of North Wales.

Prof. Qasim led the first Indian expedition to the frozen continent Antarctica in 1981 and established there a research station called ‘Dakchhin Gangotri’. He successfully organized and guided the next seven expeditions until 1988.

He pioneered in Fisheries Biology, mari-culture, estuarine ecology, environmental pollution and Antarctic research. Prof. S Z Qasim was Secretary of Department of Environment and former Director of NIO.

He published more than 200 original research papers published in national and international journals. For his original work and distinguished services, he won many honours and awards including Padma Shri in 1974 and Padma Bhushan in 1982.

Prof. Qasim, however, donated the award money (Rs. 3 lakh) to the University for instituting an academic award and scholarship for deserving science graduates of AMU.

Prof. Qasim had served as the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia from 1989 to 1991.  He had also served as Director of National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, Central Institute of Fisheries.

He served as a member of the Planning Commission of India from 1991 to 1996. He was an Honorary Professor of universities including Aligarh Muslim University, Madurai Kamaraj University, Anna Malai University and Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.