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Syed Zahoor Qasim: The Intriguing Tale of the Eminent Indian Marine Scientist having Strong Determination


Syed Zahoor Qasim

Quick Facts

  • Name: Dr. Syed Zahoor Qasim
  • Also Known As: Dr. Qasim
  • Famous As: Marine Biologist
  • Birth Date: 31 December 1926
  • Died On: 20 October 2015 (aged 88)
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Birth Place: Rakswara Gram, Allahabad
  • Awards: Padma Shri (1974), Padma Bhushan (1982)


The great Indian marine biologist, Syed Zahoor Qasim contributed towards many important marine crusades of India starting from the lead in India’s expedition to Antartica and seven major expeditions from 1981 to 1988 with strong determination. This eminent scholar was a member of  the Planning Commission of India and then served as a professor in the top most universities of Inda like Aligarh Muslim University, Madurai Kamaraj University, Anna Malai University, Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Jamia Millia Islamia in the domain of marine science.

A Look at his Early Life and Education

Syed Zahoor Qasim was the son of Syed Zamir Qasim and took birth in the village of Rakswara in Allahabad in 1962. He completed his early education from Majidia Islamia Intermediate College, Allahabad and then joined Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1947.

Career and Later Life at a Glance

He passed out with his B.Sc degree in 1949 from AMU Aligarh and then completed his M.Sc in Zoology from the same university where he topped and was felicitated with the University Gold Medal. He had been a lecturer in AMU in department of Zoology and then moved to the United Kingdom for higher studies in 1953. He joined University College of North Wales and did his D.Sc and Ph.D in 1956. After that he again returned back to India and re-joined AMU in December 1956 and later on became a reader in 1957. He then initiated a new laboratory of fish and fisheries in his department for improving his works in the domain of marine science.

Syed Zahoor Qasim – Indian Marine Scientist
Syed Zahoor Qasim – Indian Marine Scientist

Truly Inspirational Works with Strong Determination

Dr. Qasim taught fisheries biology in the Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Bombay (Mumbai) in 1962. In 1964, he joined International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as an Assistant Director where he carried his research on biological oceanography on primary productivity of Kerala Backwaters and on the atolls of Lakshadweep. Later on from 1971 to 1974, Dr. Qasim became the Director of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Kochi, Kerala and alongside he maintained a charge of the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kochi for about a year.

The eminent Indian marine scientist further continued his research in Fisheries Biology and developed the mussel culture and pearl culture techniques for the first time in India which honoured him with “Padma Shri” award. His strong determination took him to post of Director of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa.

Dr. Qasim was selected as the secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Environment (DOE) in May 1981. He accomplished second Oceanographic Research Vessel “Sagar Sampada” for the Indian Oceanographic research. The most renowned expedition under Dr. Qasim was the one where he led India to antartica. He lavishly researched on Fisheries Biology, primary productivity, marine-culture particularly mussel and pearl culture, estuarine ecology and environmental pollution on which over 200 research papers were published in national and international journals.

Dr. D. Swaminadhan Research Foundation (DSRF) was primarily setup by Dr. Qasim with help of his colleagues Prof. Dr. D. Swaminadhan and Dr. Jayant Patil in 1995. It is a non-profit and non-governmental forum aimed towards eco-friendly, pro-poor and gender equity development. DSRF is listed under Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India under the Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act of 1976.

Awards and Achievements 

  • The eminent Indian marine scientist was awarded with the Padma Shri in 1974.

  • He also won the Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award in 1978.

  • In 1988, Syed Zahoor Qasim was given the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award.

  • Padma Bhushan award was also awarded to him for his strong determination.

  • First National Ocean Science and Technology Award by Government of India (2003–04) for his contribution in domain of marine science.

  • For his inspirational works, he deservingly was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Indian Science Congress in 2008.

A True Inspirer for all Dreamers

Dr. Syed Zahoor Qasim was married to Nawabzadi Begum Sahiba of Rampur who was a royal descendant of Nawab of Rampur. Later he was blessed with three daughters. He died at the age of 88 on 20 October 2015 in Delhi. Dr. Qasim was a very distinguished person who proved himself to be a great academician, administrator and a leader. The academic credential and leadership abilities put forward during his mission to South Pole (Antarctica) was exceedingly well only due to his strong determination. Even a biography named “Syed Zahoor Qasim: The Man, Mission and Milestones” has been published on this eminent Indian marine scientist who made pioneering contributions in the domain of marine science and Antarctica research.


Written By: Hetal Kabra


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