Vikram Sarabhai biography, vikram sarabhai story
Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, internationally regarded as the Father of the Indian Space Program, was an Indian physicist and astronomer. Initiating the space research and help develop nuclear power in India are perhaps his most outstanding works. Furthermore, He was an instrument in establishing a large number of institutions in a wide variety of fields. The Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad was founded by him when he was only 28 years old; later on, he established the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM A), Community Science Centre, Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, etc. These played significant roles in the development of various sectors of India.
Dr. Sarabhai was one of the greatest minds ever to be born on Indian soil. Apart from being a renowned scientist, he was a true visionary, an innovator. Due to his remarkable works for the country, he was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) in 1972.
Vikram Sarabhai’s early life and education
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was born on August 12th, 1919, in an affluent family of industrialists in Ahmedabad, who were majorly committed to the Indian independence movement. He was the son of Ambalal Sarabhai and Sarla Devi. Coming from a wealthy, influential family, Sarabhai had the privilege of living a comfortable life growing up and completed his early education from a private school called “Retreat” which was run by his parents. As the Sarabhai family was a major contributor to the independence movement, many great, influential men used to visit their household. Some of the great Indian men, such as – J. Krishna Murthi, Motilal Nehru, V. S. Shrinivasa Shastri, Sarojini Naidu, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad, C. V. Raman, etc. stayed with the Sarabhai family during their visits to Ahmedabad. The presence of such great men had a major influence on Vikram Sarabhai.
He attended the Gujarat College, Ahmedabad, but later went to study at the prestigious University of Cambridge, England. He took tripos in Natural Sciences but returned to India when World War II broke down. He was a research scholar under Sir C. V. Raman, at the Indian Institute of Science. He returned to Cambridge in 1945 to complete a doctorate, following which in 1947 he wrote a thesis, “Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitudes”, and completed his Ph.D.
Vikram Sarabhai’s professional life and accomplishments
Dr. Sarabhai was the instrument in establishing the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad in November 1947, known as the cradle of space sciences in India. The laboratory had a modest beginning with a few rooms in the M.G. Science Institute of the Ahmedabad Education Society, founded by his parents. Moreover, it was supported by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Atomic Energy.
The primary area of focus was research on cosmic rays and the properties of the upper atmosphere. Later, the areas were further expanded to include radiophysics and theoretical physics with grants from the Atomic Energy Commission. Sarabhai visualized a new field of research in solar and interplanetary Physics. It was Sarabhai’s one of the most significant ventures.
His fields of interest varied from science to statistics to sports. He founded the first market research organization in India, the Operations Research Group (ORG). Some of its most remarkable accomplishments include the establishment of – the Nehru Foundation for Development in Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA), and the CEPT. He founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts along with his wife, Mrinalini Sarabhai. Some of his accomplishments are the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) in Kalpakkam, Variable Energy Cyclotron Project in Calcutta, Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad, and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) which is based in Jaduguda, Jharkhand.
After the sudden departure of Dr. Homi Bhaba, he appointed Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in May 1966. Moreover, it was Sarabhai who initiated a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian satellite. Due to his vision and tireless efforts, Aryabhata, the first Indian satellite was put in orbit in 1975 from Russian cosmodrome. It earned him the title of Father of the Indian Space Program.
Indian Space Program
Among his various establishments, the foundation of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was one of his greatest achievements. Even in a developing country like India with severe economic issues, he successfully convinced the government of India of the importance of a space program. Though there was a lot of criticism, the vision of establishing a space research center in India was clear in Dr. Sarabhai’s mind.
His vision was supported by Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, who is regarded as the Father of India’s nuclear science program. He helped in establishing India’s first rocket launching station (TERLS), which was built at Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram on the coast of the Arabian Sea. On November 21st, 1963, as a result of a remarkable effort, the inaugural flight with sodium vapour payload was launched. The U.N. General Assembly gave international recognition to TERLS in 1965.
In 1966, after his dialogue with NASA, the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) was launched from July 1975 – July 1976 after his demise in 1971.
During his tremendously successful career, Sarabhai has had a number of achievements across various sectors. Sarabhai is remembered as a visionary, and his creations continue his legacy, even after decades of his demise.
- The lead facility for launch vehicle development of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), is named after him.
- India Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM A), is considered one of the finest B-Schools (Business School) in the country today. Dr. Sarabhai played a major role in its foundation.
- On his first death anniversary on December 30th, 1972, the Indian Postal Department released a commemorative Postal Stamp as a tribute.
- The International Astronomical Union in 1973, decided to name a lunar craft, Bessel A, in the Sea of Serenity, as the Sarabhai crater.
- In his honor, the lander of India’s moon mission Chandrayaan-2 was named Vikram.
Vikram Sarabhai was undoubtedly one of the most influential people in the development of Independent India. His contributions to India’s various sectors are still in use today and play a significant role in the country. The luxuries of a wealthy, influential family did not trap him into living a comfortable life. Rather, he used his resources and knowledge to build, innovate, and develop various institutions that had a significant impact on the country. Though the path was often full of perils, he was tremendously innovative, hardworking, and resilient about his pursuits. He accomplished more in his life than most people can only dream of, and his contributions to the country, his selflessness, and vision enlist his name with the great leaders of India. That is why even after decades of his demise, his legacy still lives on.
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