Vikram Sarabhai birth anniversary: 5 things to know about ISRO founder - Hindustan Times
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Vikram Sarabhai birth anniversary: 5 things to know about ISRO founder

By | Edited by Aryan Prakash
Aug 12, 2023 12:44 PM IST

ISRO pays tribute to Dr Vikram Sarabhai, the visionary behind the Indian space programme, on his 104th birth anniversary

On his 104th birth anniversary, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) paid tribute to the legacy of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, the visionary behind the Indian space programme. Known for founding the Indian space agency in 1962, he assumed the role of its chairman and worked for a token salary of one rupee.

Vikram Sarabhai, the newly appointed Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, addressing employees of the Atomic Energy Establishment in 1966.(TIFR ARCHIVES)
Vikram Sarabhai, the newly appointed Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, addressing employees of the Atomic Energy Establishment in 1966.(TIFR ARCHIVES)

Sarabhai, a staunch advocate of India's space endeavours, was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1966 and posthumously with the Padma Vibhushan in 1972. Let's delve into the details of his remarkable journey:

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1. Rooted in a Gandhian Legacy:

Born on August 12, 1919, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Dr Vikram Sarabhai emerged as a trailblazer in the realm of space technology and exploration.

Raised in the influential Sarabhai family, his father, Ambalal Sarabhai, was a prosperous industrialist with numerous mills in Gujarat. He was also an ardent supporter of Mahatma Gandhi's ideals.

2. Academic Pursuits:

Dr Sarabhai's academic voyage began at Gujarat College in Ahmedabad, where he completed his matriculation.

He continued his studies at the University of Cambridge, achieving a Tripos in Natural Sciences in 1940.

Amidst World War II, he returned to India and joined the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, engaging in research on cosmic rays under the mentorship of Nobel laureate Sir C. V. Raman.

3. Architect of India's Space Odyssey:

At the age of 28, in 1947, he laid the foundation for the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, a monumental step in his journey as an institution builder.

Dr Sarabhai's collaboration with Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha, widely regarded as the father of India's nuclear science programme, led to the establishment of India's inaugural rocket launching station in Thumba, Kerala.

Convinced of the need for a space programme, he advocated, "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."

ISRO was previously the , set up by the Government of India in 1962, as envisioned by Dr. VikramA Sarabhai. ISRO was formed on August 15, 1969 and superseded INCOSPAR with an expanded role to harness space technology.

His efforts resulted in the birth of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962. This was superseded by ISRO on August 15,1969. He served as chairman of the space agency from 1963 to 1971.

4. Architect of Institutions:

Dr Sarabhai's legacy extends beyond space and science. His contributions led to the creation of prominent institutions:

- Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad

- Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad

- Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad

- Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad (established with his wife, Mrinalini Sarabhai)

- Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram

- Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad (formed by merging six institutions/centres initiated by Vikram Sarabhai)

- Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam

- Varaiable Energy Cyclotron Project, Calcutta

- Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad

- Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar

5. A Multifaceted Visionary:

Dr Sarabhai's interests extended beyond science. He co-founded the Darpan Academy for Performing Arts alongside his wife, Mrinalini Sarabhai.

His untimely demise on December 30, 1971, left an enduring impact on India's scientific and technological progress.

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