Guts of the ocean

Published: Sunday 31 August 1997

"Manthan" -- the mythological churning process -- is the name for an Internet based Indian search-engine which helps users to get access to a whole deal of oceanographic information collected over the past three decades in this country. "This initiative has made India the first developing country to set up its own oceanographic server," says Vishwas Chavan, the scientist in-charge of this project at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).

The server is expected to be launched soon. Manthan aims at "churning the oceans of the web" for oceanographic resources available to benefit mankind. Trying to position themselves at the cutting-edge of modern science, the scientists at the NIO have put together a very useful tool that gives one access to a whole lot of information. Pressing a few computer keys, one can access information about catalogues of palm-leaf manuscripts, Indian palaeography and trade routes in ancient India, among other subjects.

By visiting at Manthan's site, one can also get access to oceanographic centres of places like Australia, Hawaii, South Africa, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Tokyo or the US.

This server is also meant to build links between Indian scientists. "Daryavardi", the name given to an ocean-going vessel of the cyberspace age, offers a web directory of all the oceanographic centres in India. One can located oceanographers and institutions across the country.

Scientists are still just testing the Indian National Oceanographer Internet Server and preparing for an official launch. But they say their efforts have brought in considerable interest already. It is helping to bind the oceanographic scientific community in and around India through the easy availability of relevant information.

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