Chapter 19: Sans Laurels from The South Pole

Chapter 19
Sans Laurels from The South Pole
19.1 Introduction
This chapter describes how the author’s marvellous achievements and accomplishments on his Antarctic explorations have not yet received any national recognition or award or any monetary benefit, etc., despite its international recognition and the presitigious Soviet Antarctic Medal, Ribbon and Polar watch awarded to him by the USSR for his active participation in the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition from 1971 to 1973. Being the first Indian ever to winter over the South Pole and circumnavigate and explore the Antarctic continent, although his Antarctic explorations, scientific research and proposals, etc., created lot of interest in India for further exploration of Antarctica including opeing of some Indian Research Bases there, yet he has not been given any national award for the same.
19.2 How the Soviets are treated after their return from the Soviet Antarctic Expeditions
The Director 23 February 1974
Physical Research Laboratory PRL
Ahmedabad, India.
Dear Sir,
I am a Research Scholar of PRL, working under the guidance of Prof. P.R.Pisharoty, Director, RSMD/SAC-ISRO.
I was deputed to work in Antarctica with the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition from 1971 to 1973 at the station Molodezhnaya on the meteorological rocket soundings of the upper atmosphere, and I am the first Indian ever to winter over the South Pole and circumnavigate and explore the Antarctic continent, and I have accomplished my assigned work as Project Scientist successfully by participating in this Soviet Antarctic Expedition.
However, I want to draw your kind attention to the following points in respect of the “Standing Orders and Subsidiary Rules” of the Soviet Antarctic Expeditions, I felt it neccessary because we in India are very ignorant of the hardships and dangers of working in Antartica which I have actually undergone there, but without any national recognition, reward or any monetary benefit, etc.
How the Soviets are treated in an Antarctic Expedition after its successful accomplishment is, therefore, described briefly:

19.2.1 Tough Medical Examination
Before the selection of a man to participate in an Antarctic Expedition, he has to undergo many physiological, psychological and psychiatrical examinations determining his adaptability to the extreme climate of Antartica. This is considred to be the most important in an Antarctic Expedition, otherwise one runs a great risk of one’s life. Because of our ignorance, I was not given any of such tests, the need of which I realised later, on my way to Antartica. “How a man from hot and suuny India, without having passed all the desired medical tests would winter over in Antarctica” was very doubtful to the Russians.
In my own interest I was, therefore, advised not to participate in the Expedition, and return home safely. But I went ahead with the Expedition, though at the cost of my life. And while in the Antarctic, luckily, my body got adapted to the extreme cold, homicidal blizzards, and the hard and tough isolated life. Although I had not undergone the laboratory tests of adaptability, yet I did pass the same practically.
I would, therefore, suggest that if in future, someone else is deputed to work in Antarctica, he must undergo a thorough medical check-up by a group of specialists, because taking a chance of life is misadventure. And the man physically, mentally, and emotionally weak should not at all be sent to Antarctica. How to adapt to the hard climate in Antarctica I learnt by actually adapting, but it may not be true in every case.
19.2.2 Special Training
After a man passes all the medical tests determining his adaptabily to the hard Antarctic environs and tough life of isolation and insulation, he is imparted a special taraining as to how he should save himself in case of some unforeseen accidents. For instance he is taught first aid, fire fighting, swimming, mountaineering, skiing, driving, etc. prior to his participation in the Antarctic Expedition . Any man deputed to work in the Antarctic is, therefore, supposed to be an all-rounder.
However, I had not taken any training in any of the above disciplines expcept for the upper atmospheric rocket soundings. My ignorance of such like knowledge put me in danger several times. I often, lost my way in the blizzards and at times fell into the crevasses. On March 14, 1972, in a way, I was reborn. I fell into a snow-shrouded crevasse near the coastal sea ice and kept there hanging for some time. A very timely help saved my life, ohterwise mine was a completely gone case.
I must say that only my good luck has brought me alive, and in good health, from the Antarctic. I would, therefore, suggest that in future, one should be imparted all the necessary training before one’s participation in an Antarctic Expedition. And PRL can easily use its High Altitude Research Laboratory, Gulmarg near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, India, for training the future Indian Antarctic Explorer-scientists. Because this is an improtant precautionary step and, therefore, it should not be dispensed with.
19.2.3 Life Insurance
Working in Antarctica involves great dangers. To survive there, men never relax their guard. Because the Antarctic remains a dangerous and unpredictable land, a moment of carelessness can easily cost a life. The cold of the Antarctic is aggravated by the strong winds which blow with unbelievable speeds; sometimes over 100 miles an hour. Because of all these risks, every Soviet member in their Antarctic Expeditions is covered by very high value life insurance policies by his Institute, and the Institute continues paying for his life insurance policy till the policy gets matured.
However in my case, my own Institute PRL did not insure me at all before my departure for the risky Antarctic assignment because of our ignorance, but fortunately, God always saved me. I should thus also have been covered by a suitable life issurance policy as per the Soviet Antarctic Expedition Rules.
19.2.4 Daily Allowance
According to the Soviet Antarctic Expedition Rules, a Soviet member of any cadre is given a daily allowance of a minimum of $ 20.00 together with incidental allowance of a minimum of $ 25.00 per week.
Moreover, the Soviet participants get daily allowance uniformly over the full duration, i.e., the rate remains the same throughout the Expedition period. Thus, besides his own salary, every Soviet member gets a minimum of US$ twenty per day as daily allownace, and a minimum of US$ twenty five per week as the incidental allowances. These allowances do not include their living expenses.
However, in my case the PRL/ISRO is treating me only as a Guest scientist of the Soviet Antartic Expedition and not giving me any monetary benefits.
In fact, not even the already sanctioned allowance is given to me on the pretext that the PRL/ISRO has to pay my due Soviet Antarctic Expedition expenses from 1971 to 1973 directly to the Hydrometeorological Service (HMS) of the USSR, if asked, and thus it has to pay nothing to me. Therefore, I request you to kindly look into this matter and give me some financial benefits similar to what the Russians get from the USSR.
19.2.5 Free Living Facilities
All the Soviet members in an Antarctic Expedition are provided with free living facilities. All their living expences such as food, medicine, living accomodation, warm clothing, etc., are paid for by their respective Institutes. The Soviet participants in the Antarctic Expeditions, thus, don’t have to pay anything from their daily and incidental allowances. Apart from their own salaries, these allowances are meant to give them a reward for their Antarctic service.
Under the present sanction approved by PRL/ISRO, all my Antarctic living expenses are to be deducted from my sanctioned allowance which is already too meagre with the result that I will not be getting even any monetary gain for my Antarctic explorations.
It is, therefore, requested that PRL/ISRO should follow the Soviet Antarctic Expedition Rules and thus if asked by the USSR, pay for my living expenses separately, i.e., not from my meagre allowances already sanctioned by the PRL/ISRO.
19.2.6 Warm Clothing
The speical warm clothing to meet the Antarctic requirements, alone cost more than US $ 1000.00. Every Soviet participant in the Antarctic Expeditions, gets this special clothing free of charges. I was also provided with the special Antarctic warm clothing on my way to Antarctica aboard the ship itself. However, the special clothing that are provided are in a very limited supply. Before proceeding to Antarctica, I had, however, purchased some warm clothing of my own. Accoding to Rule No. SO-78 A, Ref. No. SRT/4-12-1969, under the Standing Orders and Subsidiary Rules of PRL/ISRO, I should be given an adequate winter clothing allowance.
And if asked by the USSR to pay for my special Antarctic warm clothing, it is requested that PRL/ISRO should pay for it separately, i.e., not from my already sanctioned allowances.
19.2.7 Free Travel
All the Soviet participants in an Antarctic Expedition enjoy free travel to and from Antarctica. They are also paid some additional Travelling Allowance (T.A.) by their respective Institutes.
I returned to India in 1973 by their special Expedition plane (IL-18, Aeroflot) and landed at Calcutta with about 150 kg of luggage. Aeroflot IL-18 had flown from Perth (W.A.). I thus saved a lot of money of PRL/ISRO by travelling with the Russians in their Aeroflot.
At Calcutta, however, I had to face some money problem since I had little money left with me. I should, therefore, also be paid my due Travelling Allowance (T.A.) as per the Soviet Antarctic Expedition Rules which the PRL/ISRO is not paying me saying that it will pay it directly to the HMS, USSR, if asked by them, to come to Ahmedabad or to go home.
19.2.8 Free Communcations and correspondence
Antarctica is the continent where hand-written letters cannot be exchanged until the next relief party arrives. For these reasons, all the Soviet participants in an Antarctic Expedition enjoy free communications, e.g., telephone conversations with their families, radio broadcasts from their families and exchanging radiograms, etc.
Accoreding to the Soviet Antarctic Expedition Rules, the charges for all such messages are paid for them by the Institutes concerned.
It is, therefore, requested that PRL/ISRO should also pay for all my correspondence separately, from the funds other than my own meagre allowances sanctioned by the PRL/ISRO, which, however, it is not paying me as mentioned above.
19.2.9 Antarctic Medal Award of the prestigious Soviet Ribbon and Polar Watch
When an Antarctic Expedition is successfully accomplished, all the participating members who winter over Antarctica are awarded a special Antarctic Medal, Ribbon and Polar Watch on their return home. On the port or airport itself, a special ceremony presided by some top Minister is held for this purpose.
Suchlike ceremonial functions are prearranged so as to give a warm welcome to the Antarctic wintered personnel in the Soviet Antarctic Expeditions. The Minister then honours all the Expedition members who wintered over the Antarctic continent and worked there during the harsh polar winter conditions with the prestigious Soviet Antarctic Medal, Ribbon and Polar Watch etc., as a special welcome home. It is a general tradition of all the countries active in Antarctica, to give a warm and hero’s welcome to the wintered-over participants of an Antarctic Expedition.
However, I was awarded this prestigious Soviet Antarctic Medal, Ribbon and Polar Watch aboard the Aeroflot IL-18 itself in a special ceremony about half an hour before landing at Calcutta airport. The leader of the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition, 1971-1973, gave a short speech appreciating my work as Project Scientist in their Antarctic Expedition and then awarded me these prestigious Soviet honours as the first Indian ever to winter over the South Pole and cicumnavigate and explore the Antarctic continent. I expressed a vote of thanks to all of them.
Now that the USSR has awarded me its prestigious honours in the form of Soviet Antarctic Medal, Ribbon and Polar Watch, I should expect something similar from our own country also. It is, therefore, requested that PRL/ISRO should recommend my case to the concerned for a suitable national award to me for my voluntary Antarctic Service from 1971 to 1973.
19.2.10 Job Promotions
Before deputing the Soviets to work in the Antarctic, their respective Institutes commit to give them job promotions and meanwhile make some increments in their salaries. After the successful accomplishment of the Antarctic Expedition, on their return home, all the Soviet members are, therefore, promoted to some higher designations.
I should also now expect something like that from PRL/ISRO in reciprocation of my voluntary Antarctic Service. I have brought lot of useful scietific data from the Antarctic, the analysis of which would yield very interesting results.
I wish to emphasise that I have a desire of continuing my voluntary Antarctic Service and make the Antarctic Scientific Research as my career. I personally feel that PRL/ISRO could do this by having some collaborations with the nations active in Antarctica. If critically seen, it is already incorporated in PRL, because PRL has its first letter as ‘P’ which may simultaneously imply the Poles or Polar, as well.
It is, therfore, requested that PRL/ISRO should recognise my Antarctic Service, i.e., participation in the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition, and, therefore, provide me with a suitable job (may be as a Research Associate in RSMD at a higher start). I feel it very much, because my Antarctic venture has not given me any immediate national recognition, award, job, or any monetary benefit whatsoever which I very much deserved, indeed.
19.2.11 Special Medical Care
We, the particpants of the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition, 1971-1973 were told by our station doctors that we may take 4-6 months for readapting ourselves to the old climatic conditions in our home countries. We were also told that we had grown very weak and, therefore, might catch diseases rapidly. During this 4-6 month recovery period, we have been advised to be under a special medical care.
In fact, an Antarctic wintered-over person, apparently grows very weak because of the nonavailability of fresh food, green vegetables, vitamins, etc. So, when he returns home, he finds himself very susceptible to bacteria. He could challenge the Antarctic cold and blizzards but not the infection of this over-populated world. Unless he is kept under a special medical care, he would fall ill and in some cases, condition becomes quite serious.
It is, therefore, that on their return home from the Antarctic Expedition, all the Soviets are given a thorough medical check-up and the necessary treatment by a group of experienced doctors. They are compulsorily kept under this special medical treatment till they return to normaley.
On my return home, I fell seriously ill on the same day, and remained in bed for about a month. I am now gradually returning to normalcy, but my Antarctic frost bite scars are still there. It is, therefore, requested that PRL/ISRO should make arrangements for my thorough medical check-up by all the specialists.
To all my honesty, I may mention here that the quality of food at the station Molodezhnaya where I wintered-over was utterly poor. The station food provisions being in emergency, we had to live only on some meat and limited bread.
Milk, sugar, potatoes, and fruits, etc., had got exhausted before the winter set in. The tea and coffee that we drank used to be black (without milk), and bitter (without sugar). It was really a very tough time.
The poor quality of food had weakened our bodies to that extent that almost every participant lost 5-10 kg of his weight. The Russian doctors, therefore, told all the participants, “ In your individual cases, to be under special medical care, is not only desirable but a necessity.”
However, I opted for rewintering over there for another successive year so as to aquire maximum meterological rocketsonde data. Our station doctor approved my case with the remarks:
“You are still keeping up good health and I think that you can rewinter over here in Antarctica second time also .”
The higher Russian authorities from Moscow, however, didn’t agree to my ‘Antarctic rewintering proposal’ as per their Antarctic Epedition Rules, but permitted me to spend the second summer also there after having already spent one summer and one winter in Antarctica during 1971-1973.
Now I am suffering from some stomach and throat troubles, and some other minor problems. I, therefore, feel the necessity of my thorough medical check-up. It is requested that PRL/ISRO should take up my special case and recommend it to all the distinguished specialists of medicine. I have brought with me my Antarctic medical reports together with my electrocardiograms taken in Antarctica.
This may, as well, help our doctors in knowing something about human physiology. This is necessary because in future also, we may like to send some more explorer-scientists to the Antarctic continent for its further Exploration.
19.2.12 Accumulated Leave
Every member participating in an Antarctic Expedition has to work for 12 hours a day and 7 days a week due to the very limited manpower available there and also to make the Expedition successful. During the full Expedition period, if all the holidays and earned leave be taken into account, it comes out to be nearly 4 months for a Soviet participant. It is, therefore, that all the Soviet members in an Antarctic Expedition, on their return home, are given all their accumulated leave (nearly 4 months).
It is, therefore, requested that PRL/ISRO should also do something like that in my case. In fact, I am still a Research Scholar, and my case should also be considered for a regular job in recognition of my Antarctic explorations.
19.2.13 Post Expedition Privileges
After the successful acomplishment of an Antarctic Expedition, all the Soviet members who participated in it, are entitled to avail themselves of some special post expedition privileges. For instance, according to the Soviet Antarctic Expedition Rules, some quota of luxurious cars, scooters and motor cycles, etc., is reserved for the Soviet participants of its Antarctic Expeditions.
So, the Antarctic wintered-over Soviets get these cars, scooters and motor cycles, etc., on priority and discount basis, from the Polar Expeditions special quota, after their return home from Antarctica.
At the station Molodezhnaya in Antarctica, I heard the Soviet participants, often talking about the type of the car they would buy with their hard earned money, after they return home. Thus all the Soviet members who participate in an Antarctic Expedition and winter over there, enjoy many special privileges, after they return home. In fact, they get a lot of credit for the hardships one has to face while working in the cryogenic environs and hazardous blizzards of Antarctica. Their respective Institutes, and the Government of the USSR, very strongly encourage their scientific and technical personnel, to come forward and join the Soviet Antarctic Expeditions.
However, in my own case I have not received any such benefit from anywhere. It is, therefore, requested that PRL/ISRO should also provide me with such benefits as per the Soviet Antarctic Expedition Rules for which at the first place it has give me some monetary benefits, etc.
19.2.14 Ad Finem
Even with the tremendous effort since the IGY to unlock its secrets, Antarctica remains the least known of all continents. This fact alone should ensure that explorer-scientists will be going south for a long time.
Antarctic Research is particularly fraught with possibilities of fundamental value. Its Geology and Geophysics may be opening a new era in theories of the Earth’s development; its Meteorology is a key factor, if for no other reason then because it is the Earth’s greatest heat sink; Biological studies offer great challenges because of unique evolutionary and physiological adaptations which have occurred here.
Thus scientific discovery in the Antarctic may well be much more important than the economic potential of that area. I hope that a time will come when India also starts participating in the Antarctic Research actively. The future of Antarctica is strongly linked to the future of science itself. And PRL/ISRO have probably to play a major role in this respect.
19.2.15 Epilogue
Now that I have participated in the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition from 1971 to 1973 successfully, on a voluntary basis, it is natural to expect some substantial reward for this perilous assignment. I doubt if anyone else from India ever experienced the hardships of an Antarctic winter before I did so.
It is most regrettable that this scientific adventure of PRL/ISRO has gone quite unnoticed by our country. I very earnestly request you to review my case in respect of all the aforesaid points, which fall under the “Standing Orders and Subsidiary Rules” of the Soviet Antarctic Expeditions. The USSR has awarded me its prestigious Soviet Antarctic Medal, Ribbon and Polar Watch, but our own country (India) has not yet shown me even a single ray of encouragement from any corner whatsoever. This is really quite disappointing. I being the first Indian ever to winter over the South Pole and circumnavigate and xplore the Antarctic continent, really deserve a suitable national award for my scientific explorations in Antarctica, the home of cold and blizzards. I should, therefore, be recommended for the same.
It is highly disappointing that I have not yet been given any national award in recognition of my Antarctic explorations despite the Indian Parliament’s commitment to do so vide its unstarred Question No. 8177 dated 25th April 1973, although the USSR has awarded me its prestigious Soviet Antarctic Medal, Ribbon and Polar Watch for my active participation in the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition from 1971 to 1973.
I have also neither been given any national recognition nor any other monetary benefit, etc., for my Antarctic explorations and achievements. It is, therefore, requested that I should be recommended for the same for which I will be greatly indebted to you. I am now looking forward to your favourable action in this connection.
Yours sincerely,
Parmjit Singh Sehra
Research Scholar and the first Indian ever to winter over the South Pole and circumnavigate and explore the Antarctic continent)
Note :
The above Request to the PRL/ISRO served no useful purpose and the author has not received my national recognition, award or any other monetary benefits, etc., for his Antarctic explorations and achievements from his own country so far. Great God! My during South Pole odyssey was an awful experience and terrible enough for me to have laboured to it without any national reward.
19.3 A letter received from Vaiseshika Electron Devices, Ambala, India dated 7th July 1982 concerning Government’s apathi towards due recognition to Dr. Parmjit Singh Sehra for his Antarctic explorations
AMBALA CANNT.- 133 001
INDIA TElex- 0392-207-JPS-IN
7th July 1982
OUR REF : (A-10) :04:528
Dear Dr. Sehra,
I happen to read a write-up in the Indian Express where it has been reported that your goodself has made significant contributions in the Antarctic Mission. But we are very sorry to note that your name did not appear in the list of honours for the proposed Indian Antarctic Expedition.
We are publishing a monthly “PRODUCT INFORMATION BULLETIN” known as “VAISESHIKA” Product Information Bulletin. We shall like to cover your contributions in the field of Science & Technology including your pioneering Antarctic explorations and scientific research in our journal. We shall also like to draw the attention of the Government towards this unfortunate episode highlighting the demoralizing trends amongst the Indian Scientists and Engineers.
Looking forward to receiving the desired information per return of mail.
With personal thanks and regards
Chief Executive
Dr. P.S. Sehra
Research Scientist,
Meteorological Section,
Space Applications Centre, (ISRO)
Dr. Parmjit Singh Sehra
Research Scientist Meteorology section India.
19.4 Unstarred Parliament’s Question No. 8177 dated 25th April 1973 and its Answer regarding the author’s participation in the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition from 1971 to 1973 as the first Indian ever to winter over the South Pole and circumnavigate and explore the Antarctic continent with an assurance to give suitable national award after the completion of his Antarctic research.
Will the Minister fo Space be pleased to state :
(a) Whether Shri Paramjit Singh Sehra, a Research Scientist at the Physcial Research Laboratory, Ahemdabad, had accompained a Soviet Scientific Expidition to Antarctica in 1972;
(b) If so, whether he is the first Indian Scientist to have visited Antarctica; and
(c) Whether any Oficial recognition of his feat has been given
and any encouragement for the further pursuit of his research in this sphere?


(a) Yes, Sir.
(b) Yes, Sir, on the basis of information available to Department of Space.
(c) Shri Paramjit Singh Sehra who returned to India in February 1973 is engaged in research work in upper atmosphere physics for which he is utilising the data collected during the expedition. The question of any recognition can arise only after the research work is completed.
19.5 A news report “left out in the cold” for not giving any national award to the author in recognition of his Antarctic explorations and achievements which appeard in the Indian Express Saturday, 6th February, 1982.
Left out in the cold
The Indian Express, Saturday, February 6, 1982
Express News Service
CHANDIGARH, February 5.
On April 25, 1973, Mr. Indrajit Gupta put the following question in the Lok Sabha :
“Will the Minister of Space be pleased to state :
(A) Whether Mr. Parmjit Singh Sehra, a research scientist at the Physical Research Laboratory. Ahemdabad India had accoompanied a Soviet expedition to Antaractica from 1971 to 1973?
(b) “If so, whether he is the first Indian Scientist to have achieved the task?”
(C) “Whether any official recognition or encouragement has been given to the scientist?”
In reply to the first two parts of the question, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who was also the Minister of Space, said: “Yes”.
In reply to the third part, she said that since the scientist was doing research on the Antarctic Expedition, the question of honouring him would arise only on the completion of the thesis.
But the day of honouring the scientist never arrived. Of course, the Gujarat University did honour him with doctorate. Mr. Sehra was awarded Ph. D. in 1977 for his research titled: “Atmospheric Structure: Exploration over Antarctica and inter-hemispheric comparison.”
Mr. Parmjit Singh Sehra, the first Indian scientist ever to set foot on the coldest and the windiest continent of Antarctica and winter over there, is a frustrated man today.
The 31-year-old scientist, who spent 18 months in Antarctica with a Russian Expedition during 1971-1973, is unhappy because not only he was not asked to lead the Indian Expedition which is now there, he was not even informed about the mission.
“ I was surprised to read in the newspapers last month while coming from Ahmedabad to New Delhi that an Indian expedition had successfully landed in Antarctica.” He told ENS.
He is nostalgic about the Antarctic Expedition undertaken by him in November 1971.
Recalls Mr. Sehra: “ I was 22 then. I had just joined the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India. We heard that a Soviet Expedition “was going to Antarctica and the USSR Government wanted to take one Indian.
“After learning that the world’s lowest temperature of -89.3 Degrees C was recorded in Antarctica and violent snowstorms with winds of over 250 km per hour were very frequent in the icy desert, no Indian scientist agreed to be there for more than one year. I vividly remember the day when Prof. Vikram Sarabhai Director of the PRL, told me in the laboratory: ‘Sehra, you are a young man. Why don’t you avail yourself of this wonderful opportunity?”
Mr. Sehra agreed.
He did not undergo any acclimatisation programme or training before setting foot on the South Pole. Unable to produce the adaptablility certificate demanded by the Russian doctor on board the ship Viese, Mr. Sehra volunteered to sign a personal bond declaring: “If something happens to me during the Soviet antarctic Expedition, 1971-1973 the Russian Government will not be responsible for it.’’
On January 7, 1972, the expedition, which included two Gernmans, one American and over 90 Russians landed at Mirny, one of the six permanent Russian stations in Antarctica.
For the next 16 months, Mr Sehra and his colleagues were busy collecting atmospheric data during different seasons. Apart from working at the six stations the Russians had set up there, Mr. Sehra also worked at one of the 0American stations (Amundsen-Scott South Pole station located at the Geographic South Pole) for about a month.
About the most unforgettable experience of the Expedition, he remembers: “Rebirth, Yes, in a way I was reborn when I fell into a deep crevasse on March 14, 1972. I was hardly an inch from death when I was pulled out with the help of long ropes by a rescue party.”
On another occasion, during a violent snowstorm he fell down a 200-metre ridge and lost a few teeth and fractured his legs.
Another incident he vividly recalls is the death of two of his colleagues on the way and “one Russian friend losing his mental balance.”
He has pleasant memories, too. “ It was sheer delight to watch the penguins. They waddle like a cartoonists’s version of a man returning from formal dinner.”
He obsereved a special trait of these birds who appear only during the summer, that is, December to February. “When the penguins produce offspring the male hatches the eggs, while the female goes in search of food.”
“Among the other few cretures who are seen in Antarctica are seals and whales. On land only 4.5 per cent of which is bare, a few primitive plants exist. There are also some insects and small animals. Otherwise it is ice all around. There is almost no fresh water. The sun is rarely visible. It sets for the winter on March 22 not to rise until September 21.”
Another memory which is green in his mind is his return in August, 1973.
“The customs people at the Calcutta airport acted in a rather funny manner. Seeing the small rocks which I had brought from Antarctica, the officials thought I was carrying diamonds with me. They thought I was a smuggler. When I told them that I had returned from Antarctica, where I had gone on Expedition, they asked me how long I planned to stay in India. Obviously, they did not know about the place.”
About the present Indian Expedition, which is expected back in the middle of this month, Mr. Sehra feels that though the country had made a good beginning, the stay of the team was too short to set up a permanent station to establish the effect of the Antarctical circulation on the monsoonal circulation.
Mr Sehra summed up: “ On August 15, 1972, while I was in Antarctica, I wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister about setting up a permanent station there. Nobody paid any attention to my suggestion. Later, the letter was published in one of the well-known international journals. Foreign journals also published a number of papers written by me about the Expedition. Today, when the nation is rejoicing at an Indian Expedition landing in Antarctica, I feel it is a dream come true. But I have not been rewarded.”

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