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In fond memory of those we lost in 2017 : Dev Raj Sikka

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Illustration : Purabi Deshpande / Research Matters

Dev Raj Sikka was born on 1st March 1932, in Jhang Maghiana in the undivided Punjab. After completing his M.Sc in physical chemistry from Agra University with a first rank, Sikka began his career in the Indian Meteorological Department in 1954. He later joined the Institute of Tropical Meteorology (known today as Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology), becoming its Director in 1986. 

Throughout the span of his career, Sikka pursued weather models and related phenomena. He was instrumental in modernizing and devising new tools for weather prediction, which are used even today. At a time when it was hardly known, Sikka was one of the first to observe a relationship between the El Ninő phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that causes the ocean waters to warm, and the Indian Monsoon. He is also considered as a driving force behind India’s ‘Monsoon Mission’, launched to ‘improve prediction skill of monsoon weather and climate’. For his passion towards understanding weather and predicting monsoons, Sikka came to be known as the “Monsoon Man” of India.

During his illustrious career, Sikka held many positions including Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) committee on climate change. He has also served on the International Advisory Panel of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). Sikka was awarded the ‘National Award for Excellence in Atmospheric Sciences & Technology’ by the MoES for his contributions. He was also conferred the Indian Meteorological Society LifeTime Achievement Award, for his contributions to advancing the field of meteorology.

Dev Raj Sikka passed away on 18th March, 2017, due to cardiac arrest, at the age of 85. In him, the world of meteorology and weather science lost a passionate advocate and India lost a brilliant monsoon forecaster.