Late Syed Zahoor Qasim was the director of the National Institute of Oceanography and was appointed as the founder secretary in the Department of Environment, Government of India, in 1981. In 1982, he took over as the secretary of the newly-established Department of Ocean Development. Dr Qasim led India's first expedition to Antarctica in December 1981 and successfully organised and guided seven other expeditions till 1988. Known as the Ocean Man of India and the Antarctica Hero, he was elected as the general president of Indian Science Congress Association. He has also held the positions of Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Milia Islamia and Member, Planning Commission, Government of India. Dr Qasim has been awarded several national and international awards including the Oceanology International Lifetime Achievement Award of UK, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri by the Government of India.