Remembering Father of Indian Space Program on his 98th Birth Anniversary


New Delhi: The nation is remembering Dr Vikram Sarabhai on his birth anniversary. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, an Indian physicist and industrialist who initiated space research and helped develop nuclear power in India was born on August 12, 1919, Ahmadabad, India and died on December 30, 1971, Kovalam.

Dr Sarabhai, who placed India on the international map in the field of space research, was the co-founder of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). He was a man much ahead of his times. He is called Father of Science for a reason, the reason being his unrivalled contribution in the field of science. He did not just establish many institutions in India, but also build the base upon which India lead its journey to several achievements in the field of science that we are now so proud of.  

Indian Space Program

  The establishment of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was one of his greatest achievements. He successfully convinced the government of the importance of a space programme for a developing country like India after the Russian Sputnik launch. Dr Sarabhai emphasized the importance of a space program in his quote:   "There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight. "   "But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society."   Early life and Achievements:   Dr Vikram Sarabhai matriculated from the Gujarat College in Ahmedabad and he later moved to England and joined St. John's College, University of Cambridge.


He got married to Mrinalini Sarabhai, a renowned classical dancer in 1942. However, his family members could not attend the marriage as they were a strong part of Quit India movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. Also, his father Ambalal Sarabhai was an affluent industrialist and owned many mills in Gujarat.   A mentor to late president APJ Abdul Kalam, Sarabhai returned to India when the country had newly become independent. Sensing the need for better scientific facilities in the country, Sarabhai convinced the charitable trusts his family managed to establish The Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad in November 1947.


For all his visionary work in the field of space science, this scientist was decorated with two of India’s most honourable awards: the Padma Bhushan (1966) and the Padma Vibhushan (awarded posthumously in 1972).


A lot of people do a lot more than they're expected to for the human race, just like Vikram Sarabhai.So, on the birth anniversary of Indian physicist Dr Vikram Sarabhai, here are some interesting and lesser known facts about the life of the visionary scientist.   1. He joined the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and began research in cosmic rays under the guidance of Sir C. V. Raman, a Nobel Prize winner. Therefore, his interest in solar physics and cosmic ray led him to set up many observation stations around the country. He was also the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.   2. Vikram Sarabhai did not stop till he convinced the Indian government to set up Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). It was soon after the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik, and Vikram Sarabhai made it clear to the government that India can also be in the League of Nations stepping on the moon. He was only 28 years old then.

3. He was one of the founding members of Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, in 1961 along with KasturbhaiLalbhai. This was the second IIM to be established in the nation.
4. He was the man behind the genesis of Operations Research Group (ORG) which was the first market research organization in India.
5. He started a project for the launch of an Indian Satellite; as a result, the first Indian satellite Aryabhata (his invention) was put into orbit in 1975 from a Russian Cosmodrome.
6. It was Vikram Sarabhai’s efforts that brought television to India. His consistent communication with NASA formed the base for Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975.
At last; to ensure that an overall development of the society, he also set up a number of institutes including:
• Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad
• Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad
• Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad
• Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad (along with his wife)
• Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram
• Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad (This institution came into existence after merging six institutions/centres established by Sarabhai)
• Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam
• Variable Energy Cyclotron Project, Calcutta
• Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad
• Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar
(Image: The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, which is ISRO’s lead facility for launch vehicle development located in Thiruvananthapuram, is named in his memory.)


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