Dr. Vikram A Sarabhai (Scientist, Visionary, Institution-builder)

Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, is the father of the Indian Space Program, a multi-faceted personality, he was a distinguished cosmic-ray and space scientist, an institution builder, industrialist, a management expert, educationist, a connoisseur of arts and above all a great human being. He founded the Physical Research Laboratory which later served as the cradle of Space Science Research in India. Vikram Sarabhai was born on 12 August 1919 at Ahmedabad. His early education was at a private school run by his parents. After passing Inter-Science from Gujarat College in Ahmedabad, he joined St. John's College, Cambridge (UK) where he took his Tripos in Natural Sciences in 1939. The outbreak of World War-II necessitated his return to India where he took up Cosmic-ray research under the guidance of the Nobel Laureate Sir C. V. Raman at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. In 1947, he was awarded doctorate by Cambridge University for his thesis, "Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitudes". On his return to India, Dr.Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in November 1947 at Ahmedabad where he continued his scientific activities. In 1947, Dr. Sarabhai founded Ahmedabad Textile Industries' Research Association (ATIRA) which he directed until 1956. Between 1950 and 1966, he was instrumental in establishing a chain of industries in Baroda. Management was among his foremost interests. In 1957, he started Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA). Realising the need for professional management education in India, he founded Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in 1962 and directed it until 1965. In 1962, he took over the responsibility of organising space research in India as Chairman of Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR). He directed setting up of the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) at Trivandrum and initiated a programme to fabricate sounding rockets in India. In 1966, he was appointed the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He drew up plans to take education to remote villages through satellite communication, implemented under the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE). In 1965, he established the Community Science Centre in Ahmedabad with a view to popularise science among children. His deep cultural interests led him, along with his wife Mrinalini Sarabhai, to establish Darpana Academy, an institution devoted to performing arts and propagation of ancient culture of India. Dr. Sarabhai was awarded the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award for Physics in 1962 and was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 1966. Padma Vibhushan was awarded to him posthumously. He was also a member and Chairperson of several national and international committees.