Vikram Sarabhai was one of the greatest scientists of India. He is considered as the Father of the Indian space program. Apart from being a scientist, he was a rare combination of an innovator, industrialist and visionary. Sarabhai received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal in 1962. The nation honoured him awarding Padma Bhushan in 1966 and Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) in 1972.
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919 at Ahmedabad in an affluent family of progressive industrialists. He was one of eight children of Ambalal and Sarla Devi. He had his early education in a private school, “Retreat” run by his parents on Montessori lines. Some of the great men of India such as Gurudev Rabindranath, J. Krishna Murthi, Motilal Nehru, V. S. Shrinivasa Shastri, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Maulana Azad, C. F. Andrews, C. V. Raman et al. used to stay with the Sarabhai family when they visited Ahmedabad. Mahatma Gandhi also once stayed at their house while recovering from an illness. Visits by such great men greatly influenced Vikram Sarabhai.
He is known as the cradle of space sciences in India, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was founded in 1947 by Vikram Sarabhai. PRL had a modest beginning at his residence, the RETREAT, with research on cosmic rays.
The institute was formally established at the M.G. Science Institute, Ahmedabad, on 11 November 1947 with support from the Karmkshetra Educational Foundation and the Ahmedabad Education Society. Prof. Kalpathi Ramakrishna Ramanathan was the first Director of the institute. The initial focus was research on cosmic rays and the properties of the upper atmosphere. Research areas were expanded to include theoretical physics and radio physics later with grants from the Atomic Energy Commission.
Today PRL is actively involved in research, related to five major fields of science. PRL is also instrumental in the PLANEX planetary science and exploration programme.
The Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC), established in the 1960s by Sarabhai, worked towards popularizing science and mathematics education among students, teachers and the laypublic. Its mandate is to stimulate interest, encourage and expose the principles of science and scientific method and also to improve and find innovative methods of science education.
Sarabhai was convinced that the resources in space could address the real problems of humanity. As director of PRL, he convened scientists, anthropologists, communicators and social scientists from all of India to spearhead the Indian space programme.
Darpana was established as a dance academy by Mrinalini and Vikram Sarabhai in 1949. For nearly two decades it taught classical dance. With Mrinalini as the lead dancer, and ChatunniPanicker as her partner, the Darpana dance company toured across the world. A few years later the great Kuchipudi guru, c R Acharyelu joined the faculty.
The decade following independence in 1947 was witness to a surge of innovative ideas to build a fledgling independent nation into a model democratic state committed to growth with equity in the development of its people. The establishment of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) was the outcome of one such innovative initiative.
Led by Vikram Sarabhai, Shri. Kasturbhai Lalbhai and supported by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Jivraj Mehta, a group of individuals set up IIMA. This group ably wove together a coalition of five actors — the governments at the centre and the state, the local industrialists, the Ford Foundation and the Harvard Business School, in a public private partnership to establish the Institute.
At the end, Some Good Quotes of him :
“I also believe that a person who does not have respect for time, and does not have sense of timing, can achieve little.”
“When you stand above the crowd, you must be ready to have stones thrown at you.”