Weather blogging and disaster risk reduction (DRR) communities in Chennai and the country at large are shocked to hear about the passing away of Thomas Prasad, Chief Data Scientist and Delivery Head at TCS and also a passionate weather and climate enthusiast and a leading DRR activist.
His deep acquired knowledge in weather and applied statistics model had helped him predict early
the 2015 Chennai floods, the 2016 Vardah cyclone, the 2017 Ockhi cyclone and the 2019 Fani cyclone earning him accolades from the UN Office for International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
Deep, entrenched passion
The weather blogging community recalls his uncanny ability to predict unusual patterns/ anomalies for various geographies including the cyclic Nor’easters in the US and the 2018 winter for the UK.
He also enabled social networking platforms (blogs and messaging protocols) to educate enthusiasts on weather interpretation and understanding using data science. He had a deep and entrenched passion for interpreting complex data models and explaining them in simple terms to derive patterns and actionable outcomes for India and other geography.
Dies of Covid complications
He was Director and Founding Member of the Climate Resilient Observing-Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), an organisation formed to bridge the gap in impact-based weather, climate change and pollution information services, policy advocacy, lateral use of climatology in disparate areas agriculture, industries, health, education, and tourism.
Col Sanjay Srivastava, also Director of the Council, told BusinessLine that Thomas Prasad, 39, passed away at a Chennai hospital due to Covid complications in the small hours of Sunday. He leaves behind his wife Pauline and two young children.
Inspired Chennai bloggers
His hectic official schedule with employer TCS did not prevent him from engaging in philanthropic activities driven mainly through CROPC. He has been a source of inspiration to the Chennai blogging community and a number of professional and humanitarian bodies even outside.
Thomas Prasad has actively been coordinating and managing relief for people afflicted with Covid over entire South India before he contracted the deadly virus earlier this month and was admitted in hospital. The CROPC has lost its main pillar of strength, Col Srivastava said.
Condolences pour in
Among those who expressed shock at the untimely demise of Prasad are Mryutunhay Mohapatra, Director-General, India Meteorological Department; KJ Ramesh, his immediate predecessor and currently Member, National Commission on Pollution; many international scientists, leading lights of the academia; and the International Red Cross.
S Suresh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, West Bengal, said that Prasad’s passing was an ‘incredible turn of fate.’ He was ‘deeply saddened and completely at a loss.’ Thomas had been the life of the CROPC WhatsApp group and had brought the science of early warning to the layman and administrators.
Bishnu Pada Sethi, Principal Secretary, Odisha, said that he was shocked to hear the news. “I knew him since July 2018 and used to be advised by him on extreme weather events from time to time while I was working in disaster management department. It’s a great loss to all of us.”