Professor Abdul Rafeeq Zafar died peacefully on the morning of July17th, 2011 in Hyderabad, India.
He was born in Kholapur in 1926, and went on to become one of India's most senior limnologists. Most of his academic career and education, commencing with his Bachelor of Science, was deve- loped at Osmania University, Hyderabad. Immediately after receiving his PhD in Botany, in 1957, he joined the faculty of the Botany Department as a lecturer and by 1983 had become its Head. He married Ms. Mehjabeen Rani, a well known anchorwoman of All India Radio, in 1962.
Dr. Zafar retired in 1986 after a long and distinguished teaching and research career. Even after his retirement he actively participated in various educational committees in India and abroad. Dr. Zafar was a staunch promoter of the “ecosystem approach” and hence strongly supported the Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management Society (AEHMS), its global activities and its publications. He was an active member of the Editorial Board of its journal: Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management, as well as of the Ecovision World Monograph Series. He had travelled abroad attending international conferences in the UK, France and Switzerland and held many distinguished Fellowships awarded by the Government of India, University Grants Commission and UNESCO. He also served on several committees as advisor, such as: the Advisory Committee on Environmental Planning and Coordination, Government of India; Research Guide for Limnology and General Ecology, Osmania University; Vice-President, Indian Botanical Society; Water Pollution Control Board, Andhra Pradesh; and Convener of the WHO Workshop on Bio-indicators of Pollution. His research career left behind a legacy which will last for a long time in the field of Indian ecology and limnology. His outstanding work on the Project “Husain Sagar Lake” (sponsored by Hyderabad Urban Development Authority, 1973) as well as his long term project “Man and Biosphere” on the lakes and their environment in the vicinity of the Hyderabad Metropolis (sponsored by the Government of India, 1961–1976) will never be forgotten.
Dr. Zafar was an excellent teacher and extremely devoted researcher. He supervised and advised several PhD students of hydrobiology, including me. I was very fortunate as I had the opportunity to work closely with two great and famous phycologists-ecologists of India, namely Drs. Suxena and Zafar who supervised my PhD research. Furthermore, I was lucky to publish my first paper with Dr. Zafar as a co-author before leaving for abroad (Munawar and Zafar, 1967).
Even after my migration to North America, I kept in close contact with him and his family. I remember it was February, 2011 when I met him for the last time. We spent an hour together discussing various research and family topics. He was always interested to know the well-being of both my family in India and in North America, especially my wife (Iftekhar) who was also Dr. Zafar's student while working towards her Master of Science at Osmania University.
He published several papers (see some selected samples below) in international journals, including a contribution to the Encyclopaedia of Lakes, Published by UNESCO. He also edited an important manual entitled “The biological indices and indicators of water pollution” sponsored by the Central Water Pollution Board of India. Dr. Zafar recently edited a book (Zafar et al., 2005) which provides the first comprehensive account of limnology in the Indian subcontinent and covers a variety of aquatic environments. It will be invaluable for students, researchers and managers.
Dr. Zafar was not only a great professor and ecologist, but also a great philanthropist and a fine citizen concerned with the welfare of society. I recall working with him closely for my thesis when he used to treat me not as a student, but as a friend and a younger brother, full of advice, kindness and compassion. His contributions will last for a long time to come in the annals of Indian limnology and he will always be remembered and missed by a great many people. I will especially miss him during my visits to Hyderabad, when I used to look forward to meeting him to reminisce over the past and look towards the future.
President, Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society
Chief Editor, Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management