By Raza Mehdi
Aug 11, 2022
As we celebrate the 103rd birth anniversary of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Father of the Indian Space Program and a renowned physicist, here are 10 interesting facts on the life of the visionary scientist.
On 12 August 1919, Vikram Sarabhai was born in a Gujarati family. His father, Ambalal Sarabhai, was an affluent industrialist and owned many textile mills. He was also a noted philanthropist, and that inspired Vikram Sarabhai to continue the legacy.
He matriculated from Gujarat College in Ahmedabad and later joined the University of Cambridge in England to study natural sciences. Upon returning to India, he undertook research in cosmic rays under physicist Sir CV Raman at the Indian Institute of Science.
A Genius in the Making
He established a research institution, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), in Ahmedabad on 11 November 1947. Known as the cradle of Space Sciences in India, PRL was formed with the aim to study cosmic rays and atmospheric physics.
Spearheading the Space Science
India decided to go to space when Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up in 1962. With the ingenious Dr Vikram Sarabhai at its helm, INCOSPAR set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in Thiruvananthapuram for upper atmospheric research.
India Decides to Go to Space
Sarabhai established the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969, which replaced the erstwhile INCOSPAR. He identified the role and importance of space technology in a nation's development and provided ISRO with the necessary direction.
Establishment of ISRO
Sarabhai believed that India, too, could be among the space satellite superpowers of the world. His vision and pioneering work allowed the launch of India’s first satellite, Aryabhata.
Launched India’s First Satellite, Aryabhata
Sarabhai was also a profound lover of the arts. He was married to renowned classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai. Together, they founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in 1949 in honour of a wide range of Indian art forms and styles.
A Patron Of the Arts
Sarabhai significantly contributed to the development of the pharmaceutical industry in India. He was among the few people who recognised that this industry needs to be of the highest standards of quality and maintained at all costs.
Pioneer of the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry
He established many institutes of international repute like the Nehru Foundation for Development in Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), which is considered a world-class management institute.
Man Behind Many Developments
Sarabhai was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1966 and Padma Vibhushan (posthumous) in 1972. He died in 1971 at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. But his legacy lives on and India is reaching new heights in space exploration everyday.
Honours for Sarabhai