By Aniket Raja
Professor Darashaw Nosherwan Wadia, the father of Indian geology, was born on October 23, 1883, at Surat, Gujarat in a family engaged in shipbuilding, Darashaw was highly inclined towards drawing. After completing his primary education in Surat, he did his graduation and post-graduation in biology and geology. It was a time when geology and geological survey had not yet developed in India. It was through reading that Darashaw developed an interest in geology and through self-study and introspection, he moved forward in this direction.
Besides, the Central Asian desert region, the entire stretch from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Assam to Karachi and Baluchistan, including lakes and oceans was his area of study. His views about the birth of the desert regions received tremendous response from all over the world. According to him, one million years ago, the Ice Age existed and the icy cold rivers in the North Pole and the snow-covered areas were the result of that age.
In his book Structure of Himalayas, he has discussed elaborately the geological formation and internal edifice of the Himalayas. His information on the spread of Himalayas from Assam to Kashmir and its range of peaks is indeed a revelation. According to him, the Hindu Kush with its unique mountain range has no relation to the Himalayas.
Among his writings, Geology of Nanga Parbat and Gilgit District and The Geology of India and Burma, give wonderful information on the Himalayas. Dr Darashaw was also a successful scientific authority on fossils. His important fossil discoveries include huge animals like elephants besides skull pieces of Stygordon ganesha.
Dr Darashaw was instrumental in organising the 22nd Conference of the International Geological Congress in New Delhi, the first ever held in India.
In 1957, Darashaw was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London. He was the first Indian geological scientist to receive this honour. He was twice elected president of the Indian Science Congress. The prestigious Meghnad Saha Medal was awarded to him by the National Science Academy.
It was on June 15, 1969, that this great scientist died at the age of 86.
The Government of India conferred on him the Padma Bhushan. On October 23, 1984 the Post and Telegraph Department of the Government of India issued a stamp in honour of Dr D.N. Wadia.