Dr. Vikram Sarabhai – Greatest Indian Physicist and Industrialist

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai is considered to be the father of the Indian space research program. His full name was  Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai. He was born on 12 August 1919 and died on 30th in 1971. Physics was one of his favourite subjects and later on, he went on to become an astronomer. He contributed significantly to the field of nuclear development and helped India in its development. He is the first man who initiated space research. At the age of only 28, Vikram founded Physics Research Laboratory(PRL) in Ahmedabad. He was also the man behind the establishment of IIM in this city of Gujarat and also served as the Chairman of Atomic Energy. Dr. Sarabhai’s area of interest also included industry and business besides being a physicist. Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association was founded by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai in 1947.

Early life and education

He took birth in the famous Sarabhai family and his father Ambalal Sarabhai, was a great industrialist. In 1942, he got engaged with Mrinalini who was a known Indian classical dancer. The couple was blessed with two children. His daughter named Mallika gained immense popularity as an actress and she also offered her service as an activist. His son named Kartikeya just like his father was also had immense interest in the fields of Science. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was a blind follower of Jainism and he practiced it in his lifetime. His family too followed it. Initially, he was a student of Gujarat College and later went into the well-known University of Cambridge, England. In 1945, he came back to Cambridge in order to pursue his doctorate degree, and there he wrote a thesis on the topic “Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitude”. This was his remarkable invention until now.

Also Read: Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis: Father of Indian Statistics

Due to World War II, Dr. Sarabhai was bound to return to India but his quest and thirst for knowledge didn’t end up and he started doing research on cosmic rays. Sir Chandrasekhar Venkata Rama, who was also a great physicist from India, guided him during his many research works.

Positions of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

  • Sarabhai was appointed as the President of the Physics section, Indian Science Congress in 1962
  • In 1971, he also became the President of the General Conference of the I.A.E.A., Vienna
  • After that, he also became the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India.
  • In 1971, he was also given the post as a Vice-President, Fourth UN Conference on ‘Peaceful uses of Atomic Energy’.
  • He was considered as the Founder as well as the Chairman of Space Applications Centre.

Awards received by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

Dr. Sarabhai received Padmabhushan in the year 1966. He also received Padma Vibhushan posthumously which means after his death.

Contributions of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

The main contribution of Dr. Sarabhai is in space research and this gives him popularity. He played a major role in convincing the Indian Government to initiate space research programs. In 1969, ISRO(Indian Space Research Organization) became the new name of INCOSPAR which was also set up because of his efforts.

Institutions Established By Him

Many institutions were established because of his efforts. Some of them are:

  • Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), in Ahmedabad.
  • Indian Institute of Management (IIM), in Ahmedabad.
  • Community Science Centre (CSC), in Ahmedabad
  • Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad. His wife helped him.
  • Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, in Thiruvananthapuram
  • Space Applications Centre, in Ahmedabad (This institution came into existence after merging which six institutions which were 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.

Indian Space Research Organization

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is one of the biggest contributions of Dr. Sarabhai to the country. He was also the man behind the first rocket launch station in the country and in the launch of the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE).

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was designated as the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India, after the death of Homi Bhabha. The work of Homi Bhabha in the field of nuclear research was ultimately completed by Dr. Sarabhai. His establishment and development of nuclear power plants is his biggest contribution. He has also worked as a Defense Minister for the development of nuclear technology. He was also actively involved in the launch of an Indian satellite. The first Indian satellite that was launched was Aryabhatta which was named after a famous mathematician. He also utilised satellite programs to educate people in the remote lands of the country. His works are legendary and are still remembered.


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