Remembering Vikram Sarabhai: The Father of Indian Space Programme

One of India's most admired scientists, Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919.
One of India's most admired scientists, Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919.

One of India’s most admired scientists, Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919. Sarabhai was instrumental in forming India’s future in astronomy and setting up the country’s space research facilities.

On his 97th birth anniversary, let’s remember him once again and read these 11 facts about Vikram Sarabhai:

  1. He belonged to an affluent family in Gujarat who owned many mills and industries in India. His family was known for the social work that they did for the underprivileged people of the society.
  2. He pursued his education from Gujarat College in Ahmedabad and then moved to England to study in the University of Cambridge.
  3. He got married to Mrinalini Sarabhai, a renowned classical dancer. However, his family members could not attend the marriage as they were a strong part of the Quit India movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.

  1. After India gained independence, seeing the need of the hour, Vikram Sarabhai sought a charitable trust set up by family and friends for the research work in the field of Science. This was the genesis of Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad which is till date a distinguished national research institute for space and allied science.
  2. Vikram Sarabhai did not stop till he convinced the Indian government to set up an 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. Vikram Sarabhai was aided in his ordeal by Homi Jehangir Bhabha, who helped him in setting up India’s very own rocket launching station.

  1. 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. This further steered the coming in of cable television in India.
  2. India’s first satellite, Aryabhata was his brainchild.
  3. He was one of the founding members for Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, in 1961 along with Kasturbhai Lalbhai. This was the second IIM to be established in the nation.
  4. For his visionary work, he was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1966 and Padma Vibhushan in 1972 (after his demise).
  5. He was the man behind the genesis of Operations Research Group (ORG) which was the first market research organization in India.

  1. He was the vice president for the fourth UN peace conference organised in 1971. The topic of concern in this issue was ‘Peaceful uses of atomic energy.’
  2. He completed his PhD in ‘Cosmic ray investigations in tropical latitudes’ under the Doctoral Advisory of Sir C. V. Raman.
  3. He died due to a heart attack on 30 December 1971 at Halcyon Castle, Kovalam, Kerala. It is said that he was visiting Thiruvananthapuram to lay the foundation stone in Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station.
  4. To ensure that an overall development of the society takes place judiciously, he 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

There is so much to remember him by!


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