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Pancheti Koteswaram (1915–1997) was an Indian meteorologist, hydrologist, atmospheric physicist and the Director-General of Observatories of Government of India.He was a Professor at University of Chicago, University of Hawaii, University of Miami and Tehran University and served as a research associate at National Hurricane Research Laboratory, Miami, and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, Colorado.A former vice-president of World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Geneva, he was an elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy and the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences. The Government of India awarded him the third highest civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan, in 1975, for his contributions to science.
Pancheti Koteswaram was born on 25 March 1915 in Nellore, a coastal Andhra Pradesh town, to Pancheti Subbarayulu Davar and Venkatasubbamma but lost his father before he turned one and was brought up amidst limited financial means, by his mother and grandmother, both widows.He completed his early education in Nellore and passed the Intermediate examination from Andhra University with first rank, winning the Sir R. Venkitaraman Gold Medal. It was during this period, he endured a tropical cyclone which hit Nellore in 1927 when he was twelve, which would, reportedly, influence his future career. He graduated in physics with honours from Presidency College, Chennai of Madras University in 1934 and started his career as a junior lecturer at Andhra-Christian College, Guntur where he worked till 1936 when he moved to Andhra University, Waltair, continuing his teaching career and simultaneously doing research in Raman Effect under the guidance of I. Ramakrishna Rao.In 1939, he secured the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc)for his thesis, Molecular association as studied by the Raman Effect, thus becoming the first non-Brahmin to receive the degree from Madras University.This was followed by two short stints lasting one year and one month each, at the Hindu College, Machilipatnam as the Head of the department of Physics and as the assistant professor at Pachaiyappa’s College, Chennai. In August 1940, he joined the India Meteorological Department (I.Met.D.) as an assistant meteorologist by which time he had already published 14 articles in national and international scientific journals.
The initial years at India Meteorological Department coincided with World War II and his duties were mainly related to military operations, though he was also engaged in research on the Nor’westers that occurred regularly in Bengal area.At the department, he deputed several notable meteorologists such as Charles Normand, S. K. Banerji, the last British and the first Indian Director-Generals of the organization respectively, as well as N. K. Sul and his stint at the Cyclone Warning Centre, Kolkata assisted him in furthering his researches on cyclone warning systems. He worked at I.Met.D. till 1975, two years past his mandatory superannuation, and headed the organization as its Director-General from 1969 to 1975. In between, he had various stints abroad; as a research associate at University of Chicago (1955–56), as a senior scholar at University of Hawaii (1961), as a consultant on Tropical Cyclones at World Meteorological Organization, Tokyo (1962), as a visiting professor at the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences of the University of Miami (1964–67), as a professor at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado (1967) and as a visiting faculty at Tehran University (1975–78).
Koteswaram married Sarojini on 20 August 1943 and the couple had four daughters and a son. After his retirement from active work, he settled in Waltair, in Andhra Pradesh and it was here he died on 11 January 1997, at the age of 82, survived by his wife and children.
Koteswaram, a recipient of the Sir R. Venkitaraman Gold Medal of the Andhra University, was elected as a fellow of the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences in 1972. The Indian National Science Academy elected him as its fellow in 1974, the same year as he became an elected fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences. A year later, the Government of India included him the Republic Day Honours list for the civilian award of the Padma Bhushan for the year 1975. The Souvenir and abstracts of the International Seminar on Monsoon Meteorology and Water Resources Hydrology held at Visakhapatnam in August 1997 were published in honour of Koteswaram.