INDIANS IN ANTARCTICA
Between 1982 and 1984 four Indian scientific teams have landed in Antarctica. These were momentous events in recent years. Antarctica is a big continent with the South Pole as its central point. The continent is bigger than India and China put together. It is the coldest place on the earth. The entire land is covered with deep ice. Not a single tree is to be found. The temperature is always maintained at- 100°C. Raging winds at a speed of 80 kilometers an hour always blow over there.
Antarctica is separated from other continents and can be reached by boat or ship but for this we have to undertake a long journey of about 906 kilometers. Most of the land on this continent contains high plateaus, which are on the most part quite uneven. There are also certain mountains. There is also a volcano named Mount Erebus, which is about 4023 meters high. Smoke always comes out from its top.
Antarctica is divided into two regions-West Antarctica and East Antarctica. In between we have the Ross and Beadle Seas. The waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean extend up to Antarctica, which we call Antarctic Ocean. For hundreds of years ice has been heaping on, one layer after another, at some places as deep as 1-6 kilometers. Many valuable minerals are to be found in this continent.
In Antarctica, we find a large number of peculiar birds known as penguins besides a number of other birds of several kinds. Whales, seals and other fish are to be found in the water under the ice in large quantities.
American and British hunters came here first of all. In 1946-47 Rear Admiral Byrd made a close exploration of this area in December 1959. The U.S.A., Soviet Russia, Great Britain, France, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Japan and South Africa entered into a treaty that Antarctica will be explored only for peaceful purposes.
India sent her first Antarctic expedition in 1982, when a party of Indian scientists and navigators reached the area in the beginning of January and spent a number of days in exploring the region. They went in an ice-breaking ship called the Polar Circle given to India by Norway. The second team of the expedition was sent in the early months of 1983. It strengthened the base camp named Dakshin Gangotri set up by the first expedition and explored the region for several days. It has been found that Antarctica is quite rich in various minerals. Samples of ice and rocks have been brought back to India and are being examined at Physical Research Laboratory and Geological Survey of India.
The third Antarctic expedition left India in the first week of December, 1983. It not only continued the experiment started by the first and second scientific teams but lived to conduct some new experiments relating to weather, geology, glaciology, microbiology and medicine. It also further strengthened India’s permanent station, Dakshin Gangotri, which will be manned throughout the year for the first time. The fourth Antarctic expedition started from Moraga Port (Goa) on December 2, 1984. The group consisted of 82 members and two engineers of the firms which had supplied equipment.
India is the only Third World country to have a permanent station on the continent; the other eight belong to developed countries.
So far Antarctica has been a closed reserve of a few Western developed countries but India considers the whole region as the common heritage of mankind. So far India has been getting all the cooperation and help from the countries which have manned stations at the southern most frozen tip of the earth and India has also been sharing its findings in different fields with other countries.
All the four Antarctic expeditions have been glorious successes for India. It has positively proved that Indian scientists and technologists are some of the best in the world.