India is showing the way to the entire world in space missions today. On 22 July, India launched Chandrayaan-2 and made a new leap in space. Do you know who is Dr. Vikram Sarabhai? who gave India an international identity in the field of space and laid the foundation of today’s heights?
Dr. Vikram Sarabhai is known as the great scientist of the country and the father of space programs. He was the former President and eminent scientist Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam who was awarded the Bharat Ratna as the missile man. Today is her 100th birth anniversary. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai established the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad itself after completing his studies from Cambridge University. At that time, he was just 28 years old. After the successful establishment of PRL, Dr. Sarabhai contributed significantly in the establishment of several institutions.
Dr. Sarabhai said that if we make a meaningful contribution to the construction of the nation, we can also solve the problems of society by developing advanced technology. His full name was Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai. He was born on this day, 12 August 1919 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Apart from technical solutions, he and his family also contributed immensely in the freedom struggle.
Dr. Sarabhai, with the inspiration of parents, decided in childhood that he has to be engaged in the service of country and humanity through life sciences. He went to Cambridge University for his undergraduate education and in 1939 earned the title ‘National Signs of Tripos’. He returned to India when World War II broke out and underwent light research under the direction of eminent scientist Dr. Chandrashekhar Venkataraman in Bangalore. Cambridge University awarded him the degree of DSC when it was discussed everywhere. Now his research papers started appearing in world-renowned research journals.
He founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in 1947, after India became independent, creating a world-class organization like ISRO. PRL started at his home. A room in his bungalow in Shahibagh Ahmedabad was converted into an office where work on India’s space program began. In 1952, his mentor, Dr. CV Raman, laid the foundation for the new campus of PRL. As a result of their efforts, our country today has a world-class organization like ISRO.
He worked at the research centers at Karnavati ( Ahmedabad ) at Kodaikanal and Trivandrum. He was married to the famous dancer Mrinalini Devi. The people of his household were staunch followers of Gandhiji. The people of his house could not even attend his wedding, because at that time they were busy with the Quit India Movement led by Gandhiji. His sister Mridula Sarabhai played an important role in India’s freedom struggle. Dr. Sarabhai’s special interest was in space programs.
They also wanted India to send its satellites into space. For this, he set up rocket launch centers at Thumba and Sriharikota near Trivandrum. The country’s first rocket launching station was built in Thiruvananthapuram with the help of Homi Bhabha.
A genius like Abdul Kalam,
Dr. Sarabhai not only interviewed Dr. Abdul Kalam but also played an important role in nurturing his talents at an early stage of his career. Dr. Kalam himself said that he was a newcomer in that field. Dr. Sarabhai took a lot of interest in him and nurtured his talent. Dr. Sarabhai was the one who made Dr. Abdul Kalam a missile man.
Dr. Kalam had said, ‘Dr. Vikram Sarabhai did not choose me because I was very capable but I was hardworking. He gave me full responsibility to move forward. He not only selected me at a time when I was very low in terms of merit but also helped me to move forward and succeed. If I had failed, he would have stood with me.’
Dr. Sarabhai wanted to see India’s rural life grow as he helped build IIM and Physics Research Laboratory. Through the ‘Nehru Institute of Development’, he played an important role in the progress of Gujarat. He was the president and member of many science and research related institutions in India and abroad. Even after attaining international fame, he always supported the research students of Physics at Gujarat University. He helped build IIM and Physics Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1972.
Dr. Sarabhai went to Thumba with his colleagues on 20 December 1971. A rocket was to be launched from there. Seeing the preparations there throughout the day, he returned to his hotel but suddenly died that night. Although the country’s first satellite Aryabhata was launched after his death at the age of 52, the foundation was laid by Dr. Sarabhai.
He had already started mechanization for the purpose of building India’s first satellite. His research work related to the characteristics of cosmic rays and the upper atmosphere is still important today. With his inspiration, the country’s first satellite Aryabhata was launched on 19 April 1975.