It is an era of the world being a #GlobalVillage and the GPS / GLOSNASS / GAGAN systems render position finding just by a peep on a hand held device. Naturally, it is challenging to imagine, let alone appreciate the unsung work of hydrographers around the world. The Indian Ocean mariners including the Kachhi Malams (Boatmen) traversed the blue seas and have provided tradition and evidence of their cartography. While Greek and Portuguese navigators receive the credit on ocean charts and the British Admiralty enveloped the seas of the world with their charts, there is an Indian core competence that has sustained through the centuries. As you continue reading do relish these vignettes of the #BluePlanet and its presentation from the world of hydrography.
On December 5th, 2017 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution (listed as A/Res/72/73 dated 4 January 2018) declaring the commencement the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. In the discussions and decisions taken there was appreciation for cooperation in surveying and charting the seas by International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) and member states like India through the National Hydrographic Office at Dehradun, Uttarakhand (Northern India).
Indian marine navigators and seafarers have for millennia infused culture with connectivity and commerce in the Indo-Pacific region. An ancient Kachhi Chart provides representative early era cartography of Red Sea and Persian Gulf. A large scale representation can be found in the collections of #MaritimeHistorySociety and in the works of late Prof B Arunachalam, an avid geographer and long time academic advisor at MHS. A large amount of work lies hidden in multiple sources that have prevented the nautical and hydrographic heritage of India to become better known. The story of Indian seafarers undertaking long ocean voyages often remains subordinate to the more promoted circumnavigations by Magellan etc.
Rear Admiral KM Nair (Retd) and former Joint Chief Hydrographer to GOI in a message said:
“Hydrographic services though primarily for navigation safety, support all marine activities. It enables us to keep our waters safe and clean. National Hydrographic Office, Dehradun with its long traditions and excellent track record is one of the front running Hydrographic Offices of the world. The Department with its expertise and where-with-al is doing a yeomen service to the marine community across the globe whilst aiding in Nation building and being an enabler for Blue Economy.”
In outlining "Hydrography - contributing to the United Nations Ocean Decade" as the theme of World Hydrographic Day 2022, the International Hydrographic Organisation declares, “The goal is to highlight how hydrography as an applied science supports the sustainable use of the oceans. This can include how up-to-date surveys and data can be used for initiatives for the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, marine protected areas, marine spatial data infrastructures, renewable energies, and all other components of the blue economy.” In an important and related area of attention the sustainability of the oceans needs to be projected far and wide. Read more at https://www.oceandecade.org/
As mentioned earlier, India has been at a leading role in hydrography even if this misses attention by many including Indians. The professional acumen of Indian hydrographers have rendered safe navigation possible in Indian waters and in the seas of many IOR literal nations.
Cmde TK Suresh (Retd), Navy Veteran and Senior Hydrographer in a message said:
“Our Hydrographers are doing extremely well all over the world. Cdr Sunil John in Behrain is one of them. Veteran Naval Hydrographers Cdr Anil Sreedharan, Cdr NSS Sreenivas, Cdr Srikanth Mukku and Cmde RB Jayaraman have headed Hydro orgaisations in various Nations. India is training hydrographers from almost all countries in Asia and Africa at National Institute of Hydrography, Goa. India has been entrusted with Hydrograhpic Survey in almost all littoral states in Indian Ocean. The first International Contract Hydrographic Survey was undertaken by INS Jamuna under my command, way back in 1993 for Sultanate of Oman. We have a well developed and advanced Hydrographic Branch today. Wish you many happy returns of the day. Long live Indian Hydrography!”
On this #WorldHydrograhyDay2022 and the day it coincides with the astronomical date of summer solstice marking the peak northern relative transit of the sun, I salute my good friends of the Hydrography Cadre. These greetings are from a legacy of the days of astronomical position fixing amidst marine surveys. In commemoration I call on the Nation to cheer their tireless efforts. They go in charted waters to update cartographic data and dare to explore uncharted areas to make safe passage for navigators like me. The #BluePlanet has called attention to #SustainableSeas & #WHD2022 is time to use #OceanDecade to bring resurgence to #SeaMindedness
Image Courtesy : National Geographic