Vice Chancellor, Prof. Manoj K. Arora has been honoured with the Bhaskar Award, the highest recognition by the Indian Society of Remote Sensing. The award consists of a medal, citation and Rs. 2,00,000/-. The award was conferred to Prof. Arora by Dr Shailesh Naik, Former Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Dr Prakash Chauhan, Director-National Remote Sensing Centre; President of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing during the ISG-ISRS Annual Convention & National Symposium on the theme “GeoDiscover: Unravelling India’s Spatial Frontier”, held on Nov 28, 2023 in Pune.
Prof. Manoj K Arora said, “I am thrilled to receive the coveted Bhaskar Award and to be in the league of great fellow Bhaskar Awardees who have contributed immensely to the Indian Space Programme. I dedicate this award to my teachers, mentors and students.” The award has been given in recognition of his outstanding contribution and achievements in the fields of Remote Sensing, Digital Image Processing, Land Cover Mapping, Earth Sciences and Civil Engineering applications.
Some of the other awardees in this league are Mr Somanath, current ISRO Chairman, former ISRO Chairmen, Dr Radha Krishnan, Dr Kiran Kumar, Dr K Sivan, former Secretary of Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr Shailesh Nayak, Chief guest of the event and Former Surveyor General of India, Dr Prithvish Nag, to name a few.
Prof. Arora has done pioneer work in extracting accurate land cover information from a variety of remote sensing data using Machine Learning techniques. In particular, his work on generating fractional land cover images from coarse spatial resolution images (fraught with mixed pixels) using neuro-fuzzy classification and super-resolution mapping techniques in the late 1990s and early 2000s is widely acclaimed. He is one of the harbingers in using fuzzy set and pattern recognition techniques for landslide hazard zonation and risk assessment.
His works on accurate extraction of snow cover from remote sensing and estimation of snow depths are being used at an operational level in the Defence Geoinformatics Research Establishment (earlier SASE), a DRDO lab. He has also been involved in the use of geospatial techniques for the rail route alignment surveys of Rishikesh Karna Prayag and Annandpur Sahib Badrinath Railway Lines, and the prestigious Char Dham Railway Project of Government of India being executed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited, and Drone surveys for cadastral mapping of Chandigarh City.
Some of his other works recognised by the scientific community are; the accuracy assessment of fuzzy classification, detection of surface; sub-surface military targets using hyperspectral and microwave remote sensing data, development of models for landslide movement estimation at a spatial level as well as at individual landslide level using PS InSAR and SBAS techniques, and development of Object Based Image Analysis model for mapping glacier cover classes and land use in general from high spatial resolution remote sensing data.
Prof. Arora is equally contributing to academic administration to mentor higher educational institutions, departments, centres of excellence and research laboratories. He has been instrumental in establishing the Kalpana Chawla Chair of Geospatial Technology from an endowment given by Indian Railways at PEC Chandigarh and Atal Community Innovation Centre (ACIC) from the Niti Aayog at BML Munjal University. At SRM University-AP, he has established two new Centres of Excellence, viz, Centre for Geospatial Technology and Centre for Drone Technology focusing on product and technology development in Geospatial Sciences.
“Prof. Arora is a visionary leader and committed researcher under whose guidance the university has flourished as a research-intensive institute, embarking on novel frontiers of cutting-edge research. We at SRM University-AP heartily congratulate Prof. Arora for his worthy achievement and are elated to witness his future contributions to the field of Remote Sensing,” remarked Dr P Sathyanarayanan, Pro-Chancellor, SRM University-AP.
SRM University-AP is proud and ecstatic to have him as its leader.
“Motivating young potential minds to pursue research and nurture a scientific career defines the true meaning of research”, said Prof. Siva Umapathy, Senior Professor at the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru, in his distinguished speech as the chief guest for Research Day at SRM University-AP.
The varsity celebrated the 7th Research Day on November 17, 2023, in the august presence of Prof. Siva Umapathy, Chief Guest (virtual mode), Prof. Manoj K Arora, Vice Chancellor; Dr R Premkumar, Registrar; Prof. Ranjit Thapa, Dean Research; Deans and Associate Deans of SRM University-AP. Faculty, scholars, students and researchers graced the event commemorating research excellence by young potential minds. Prof. Umapathy emphasised the significance of research in undergraduate studies in his address by stating that, “True advancement in research occurs when you gain depth in your area of study and utilise the knowledge to pursue innovation”.
Prof. Ranjit Thapa remarked that research is an essential pillar of the university that has contributed to the university’s growth as a world-class research-intensive institute. He highlighted that with 1760+ journal publications with 50% in Q1 journals, 41 Nature Index publications, 155 patents published and 10 granted, industry and research projects with an outlay of 29+ crores, 50+ research laboratories, 300+ research scholars, the university has achieved unprecedented success in the research frontier within a span of 6 years. The Deans of all schools also presented a brief report on the research activities and significant achievements of their faculty at the event.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Manoj K Arora lauded the university’s mission to provide research- centric education for its students. “At SRM University-AP, we encourage cutting-edge translational research and provide financial and technical support for students to rise to the global frontiers of breakthrough research. The university offers expert faculty, top-notch facilities and a research-driven curriculum designed to build a thriving innovative ecosystem”, remarked Prof. Arora.
A paper presentation contest was held as part of the Research Day. 200+ abstracts in the undergraduate/postgraduate category and 80+ abstracts in the PhD category were received from young researchers in various areas of research ranging from AI/ML to Environment and Sustainability, from Literature, Linguistics, Culture & Gender to Nanotechnology and Physical Sciences. Winners of the paper presentations were awarded with Gold and Silver medals with special mention of appreciation for their guides and mentors. The unveiling of the Abstract Book, with over 300 abstracts received from the participating researchers, was a highlight of the event.
Chief Guest, Prof. Siva Umapathy was virtually honoured with a memento as a token of appreciation by the dignitaries. Dr R Premkumar delivered the vote of thanks expressing his sincere gratitude towards the chief guest and the convenors of the Research Day. SRM University-AP hosted the 7th Research Day with great fervour to maintain the spirit of research among young students and nurture an innovative and conducive research ecosystem.
The Paari School of Business organised an exhibition on projects developed by students of the BBA (Hons) programme on the concepts of Design Thinking as a part of their course curriculum. Students exhibited their work to Dr Premkumar R, Registrar; Prof. Bharadhwaj Sivakumaran Dean; Dr Vimal Babu Ph.D. and Mr ARUN PRASAD GS, Faculty of Paari School of Business and students of the varsity.
The exhibition was a successful platform for students to display their knowledge and understanding of Design Thinking and have constructive discourse on this novel and innovative topic!
Dr Megha Yadav has received a prestigious fellowship from the Käte Hamburger Centre for Advanced Study, inherit.Heritage in Transformation, Humboldt Universität Zu Berlin, Germany. The fellowship allows for the undertaking of the research project, Visualising the Tradition, Preserving History: Material Practices in Tibetan Buddhism. This project takes an initiative to understand the ideas of heritage and history among the Tibetan Buddhist community by looking at the visual material and its heritage in Tibetan society to reach a nuanced picture of Tibetan history and heritage which keeps the Tibetan community at the centre of this understanding.
The project will attempt to understand the ways and methods of remembrance, preservation, and transmission of what Tibetan Buddhists consider to be their history. Most academic works have utilized Buddhist textual traditions to talk about Tibetan society, which has the inherent limitation of being one-dimensional. As a point of entry, this research will focus on thangka paintings as they create a very intimate window to people’s way of thinking about themselves, their universes, and their personal history. It was a ‘material’ to be showcased in public spaces, notably monasteries. It was meant for everyone to see, pay their respects, and take the image back with them in their minds and hearts. In a sense, these paintings were a showcase for the Tibetan Buddhist community.
This project will also pay attention to the changes brought about by 20th-century events, most notably colonization and the exile of the Dalai Lama and many Tibetans by inquiring into the changes brought into the idea and making of thangka paintings, raising questions about patronage, method, and content in the 20th century. An equally important intervention in the method and content of these paintings came with the spread of digital media platforms. While digital media has ‘democratised’ the making of thangka paintings, the question remains: what has it done to the process of making a thangka? How has the value associated with the paintings, as well as their making process, been changed by the technical medium? Has it impacted the content of these paintings? More importantly, what kind of changes have come into the community’s understanding of their past and present? These and any other issues that may come up during research will be addressed.