JULY 4, 2018
An Indian geophysicist is in the race to head the China Earthquake Administration (CEA), which frames and implements the country’s development strategies and sets standards for disaster mitigation.
Paramesh Banerjee, if he is selected, will likely be the first Indian to head an institution like the CEA which works directly under the State Council, China’s cabinet.
Banerjee is among four scientists shortlisted to head the Institute of Geophysics, CEA’s top scientific organisation, state media reported. He is currently the technical director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore and president of Asian Seismological Commission.
Banerjee, who is an alumnus of the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad, earlier worked at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in Dehradun among other places.
“He (Banerjee) has a doctoral degree in applied geophysics and leads a team of scientists and engineers who are responsible for design, installation, maintenance and data processing for all types of geophysical and geochemical field instrumentation networks, monitoring volcanoes and tectonically active regions in South and Southeast Asia,” said the state controlled China Daily newspaper in a report.
Banerjee, who was speaking to the newspaper after a rigorous interview, said as the world’s second largest economy, “….China should not have so many people from earthquakes”.
China is frequently struck by quakes and has experienced some of the biggest ones over the years; in May 2008, an earthquake in the southwest province of Sichuan killed almost 70,000 people.
“China has the power, willingness and mindset to help others, and that’s why I am here,” Banerjee said, adding: “I want to make this institute an internationally prominent one in geophysics and a regional leader if I become the next head.”
There is no precedence of an Indian heading a Chinese scientific institution.
Several Indian scientists, however, works as researchers and lecturers at institutions affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The other three shortlisted scientists are Chinese.