National Remote Sensing Award      GIS Professional of the year (2002)

Dr. A.K. Saraf

A token of support for the sincere, hardworking and devoted personality to the field of Remote Sensing and GIS. Two awards of national level in the same year for a single person the facts speak volumes about the contribution of Dr. A.K. Saraf, faculty in Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Roorkee in the field of Remote Sensing and GIS.

Indian Society of Remote sensing (ISRS) conferred upon him the coveted "National Remote Sensing Award" for his work in the field of remote sensing which has made significant impact in the application field. For the last three years, no one was given the award and this year Dr. A.K. Saraf was chosen from among those who were largely space scientists from ISRO and NRSA. He is the second academician to be bestowed with the award.

Map India 2002 also awarded this eminent personality with "GIS Professional of the year award" in its annual conference in Delhi in the month of February this year. It is given by Centre For Spatial DataBase Management Systems (CSDMS), which takes into consideration, the consistency in work andregular publication of papers in reputed journals as thebasic criteria for selection.

About the forthcoming works, he is very enthusiastic about the establishment of NOAA-HRPT signal receiving earth station in the Department of Earth Sciences itself. The continuous download of data will help in monitoring of earthquakes. To throw more light on the basic principle of working, he elaborates that whenever any earthquake occurs there is lot of thermal radiation emitted and changes (thermal changes) on the surface can be detected by the satellite sensors.

The project is funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST). This venture is aimed at monitoring seismically active areas of the country. This may prove to be very helpful in drought monitoring, snow monitoring, forest fire detection, growth rate monitoring of crops etc. The students would have the opportunity to work in different aspects using these data sets to explore new facts, which will be a major contribution.

Speaking about the utility of Remote sensing and GIS besides classical fields of Earth Sciences, he expressed the view that these tools can be used to act as an aid to improve geological mapping and to monitor inaccessible terrains like the Himalayas - the synoptic view can be of immense help. The application of remote sensing and GIS can help save precious time and give representation of desired resolution.

About the journey to introduce GIS as a subject matter in the department, he explains that it was a tough journey and without students support it would not have been possible. He thinks, students are his messengers, critics and guides since a teacher is thoroughly exposed to his students only. He also expressed serious concern over the set back in software industry, which is also seriously affecting job opportunities in GIS and remote sensing fields. About the opportunities available to a Geophysicist in these fields, he explains that GIS can be used to analyze spatial Geophysical data like gravity anomaly map. As people from geophysical background have better mathematical background so they can comprehend and explore many intricate mathematical aspects of GIS modeling and data interpretation techniques.

Dr. Saraf has made 14 extensions in "ArcView 3.1" - one of them has crossed 10,000downloads by GIS users around the world and 10 of them have crossed 1000 downloads which speaks for itself. About the availability of software and data as a central facility, he strongly believes that GIS and remote sensing shouldn't be placed in a public place. He is of the opinion that making it available to a large number of individuals may cause harm to the available data. Moreover, just the availability of software and data sets will not solve the problem of students - the real problem is related to ideas and supervision while the students' work. Any student can not do individual research so provision should be made to facilitate faculty members who have worked long in this fields and proved there competency to have better lab facility so that students can get appropriate guidance.

On personal front, Dr. A. K. Saraf believes in hard work. He doesn't have regrets as he looks back.. He is keen to learn from past and surge ahead. As a M.Sc. student (he did his M.Sc. from our Department itself) he was usually busy with academic works and hardly could manage time for sports and other activities. Now, he enjoys with family and loves to watch T.V. and evening walks gives him pleasure. He completed his Dissertation under Prof B. Parkash, whom he considers as the cherished GURU and expresses high respect for him.

As for the future of GIS, he expects it will extend its reach in lot many hitherto unexplored ways and will sustain its present status. He expects this field to grow hand in hand with other classical branches of Earth Sciences in the near future. When asked about the fundamental works, he mentioned about False Topographic Perceptions (FTP) phenomena as one of his pioneering work and also about some image development tools in remote sensing and GIS.

When asked about his friends, he deeply regrets the loss of his very intimate friend: Deepak Prasad who died in Ranchi due to Heart attack all of sudden. To name a few of his best friends, he mentions the names of Vikas Goyal and Arun Kumar. For all his friends, wherever they are he conveyed his good wishes and wanted them to keep in touch by constant communication.

We expect that this dynamic personality will conquer many more new heights with the advent of time and add to the list of his achievements to make us all proud. On behalf of studentís community, we extend our heart-felt congratulations to him and express our best wishes for his forth-coming works.

Smita Tyagi & Kaustav Das Gupta

M.Tech (Applied Geophysics)

II Year