Former Director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Dev Raj Sikka passed away on 18 March 2017, after suffering from a cardiac arrest. He was 85. Remembering Raj Sikka, Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences said that he was the first person to propose a connection between El Nino phenomenon and the Indian monsoon but that was the time when meteorologists would give more importance to the words of the western scientists.
The El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomenon, the irregularly periodical variation in winds and sea in the equatorial Pacific, is now seen by the meteorologists as one of the most significant factors to forecast the performance of the Indian monsoon. Out of 10 El Nino years, almost six have been linked to below-normal rainfall in India.
Born in Jhang, Maghiana (a part of Panjab, Pakistan) before India’s partition, Dev Raj Sikka began his career with the Indian Meteorological Department. He is known to be among the pioneers who developed different weather models and computer modelling techniques to forecast the monsoon. He was the Chairman of the Monsoon Mission of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, a programme that aimed at setting up the infrastructure and manpower to improve monsoon-related forecasts.
He was also the chairman of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) committee on Climate Change and the chairperson of the Research and Advisory Council of National Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast. He was also an active member of International Advisory Panel of the Ministry of Earth Sciences. He played a significant role in various studies including the correlation between the Indian Monsoon and El-Nino, Walker Circulation and extreme weather events and Monsoon studies conducted over the Indian Ocean.
On December 16, 2016, he received the prestigious honour of ‘lifetime time achievement award’ from the Indian Meteorological Society. He also received the Sir Gilbert Walker Gold Medal in 2010 for his contribution in the field of Monsoon meteorology. Besides this, he has developed more than 200 research papers that have helped immensely in the shaping of the modern day Indian meteorology.