Vikram Sarabhai Biography

Who is Vikram Sarabhai?

On August 12, 1919, Vikram Sarabhai was born in Ahmedabad, India. His full name is Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai and he was the son of Ambalal Sarabhai who was a Gujarati industrialist. Dr. Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was an Indian physicist and an astronomer who started the space research organization and initiated the nuclear power plant in India. Because of his achievement, he is regarded as the Father of the Indian space program. He was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1972. Vikram Sarabhai passed away on December 30, 1971, in Kovalam. 

In this article on Vikram Sarabhai biography, we are going to discuss who is Vikram Sarabhai, Vikram Sarabhai education, and the achievements he accomplished throughout his life. 


Vikram Sarabhai Information

Full Name: Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai

Date of Birth: August 12, 1919

Death Date: December 30, 1971

Cause of Death: Cardiac arrest 

Age(at the time of death): 52 


Information about Vikram Sarabhai

Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919, in a Gujarati industrial family. His father’s name was Ambalal Sarabhai who was an industrialist, a philanthropist, and the founder of the Sarabhai group of companies. His mother’s name was Sarla Devi and he was the Eighth son of Ambalal Sarabhai. In 1942, Vikram Sarabhai married Mrinalini who was a classical dancer by profession. The couple had two children. His daughter’s name is Mallika, who went on and became an actress and an activist. His son’s name is Kartikeya who is one of the world’s leading environmentalist educators and a dedicated community builder, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2012. During his lifetime, Vikram Sarabhai practised Jainism and had dedicated his life to building the Indian space program and that is why he is called the Father of the Indian space program. 


Vikram Sarabhai Education

Vikram Sarabhai came from the famous Sarabhai family who was a major industrialist committed to the Indian Independence movement. Vikram Sarabhai attended the Gujarati college in Ahmedabad to complete his higher studies and after doing so he then took admission to the University of Cambridge in England where in 1940, he gave his final honour exam in the Natural Sciences.

Sarbhai returned to Cambridge post world war 2 to pursue his doctorate and in 1945 he submitted a thesis on “Cosmic Ray Investigation in Tropical Latitudes”.


Vikram Sarabhai Achievements 

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai is considered the father of the Indian space program. He was a great institution builder and helped in establishing a large number of institutions in diverse fields. After returning from Cambridge in 1947, he requested his friends and family members to help him in opening a research institution near his home in Ahmedabad, thus at the age of only 28, he founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad on November 11, 1947.

The Physical Research Laboratory was the first of many institutions which Vikram Sarabhai created and cultivated. He served in the Physical Research Laboratory from 1966 to 1971. 

Vikram Sarabhai was also very active in his family’s industry and the business which it had. After Independence in 1947, Vikram Sarabhai founded the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association and then actively looked after it until 1956. Seeing the immediate need for management professionals in the country, Vikram Sarabhai also helped in setting up the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad in 1962. 

The Indian National Committee for  Space Research (INCOSPAR) which was later renamed the Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) was established by Vikram Sarabhai in 1962.

After the death of the beloved physicist Homi Bhabha in 1966, Vikram Sarabhai was appointed as the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India. He is also credited for setting up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Southern India. Vikram Sarabhai also helped in developing indigenous nuclear technology for defence. 


Vikram Sarabhai Discoveries

Vikram Sarabhai helped in setting up many institutions all around the country and here are some of the well-known institutions established by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. 

  1. In 1947, Vikram Sarabhai established the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad. PRL is a National Research Institute for space and allied sciences. 

  2. Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad founded on 11 December 1961 is considered to be the best institute of management in the country. 

  3. Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar was founded in 1967, under the department of atomic energy. 

  4. Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC) or the Community science centre was established in 1960 at Ahmedabad. VASCSC is working towards popularizing science and mathematics education among students, teachers, and the public. Its main objective is to improve and find innovative methods of scientific education.

  5. Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad was founded in 1949 along with his wife and now directed by his daughter Mallika Sarabhai for the last three decades. 

  6. Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam was founded in 1985 and it is the testbed for fast fuel reactors and materials.

  7. Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad was founded in 1967 to create a strong indigenous base in electronics. 

  8. Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram founded on 21 November 1963, is a major space research centre of the ISRO which mainly focuses on rocket and space vehicles for the Indian satellite program. 

  9. Space Applications Centre( SAC), Ahmedabad was founded in 1972. The Space Applications Centre has played an important role in realizing the vision and the mission of ISRO. 

  10. Variable Energy Cyclotron Project or the VECC is located in Calcutta and was founded in 1972. VECC performs research in basic and applied nuclear sciences and the development of the nuclear particle accelerator. 


Vikram Sarabhai Inventions/Indian Space Research Organization

The establishment of the Indian space research organization by Vikram Sarabhai is considered to be his greatest achievement. When he returned to India after completing his Doctorate from Cambridge University in London in 1947, he was able to convince the newly formed independent Indian government of the importance of a space program for a developing country like India. Dr. Sarabhai was also supported by Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha who is widely regarded as the father of the Indian nuclear science program. He supported Dr. Sarabhai in setting the first rocket launch station in India. At Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram on the coast of the Arabian sea, the first rocket launch centre was established

The inaugural flight was launched on November 21, 1963, with sodium vapour payload after a remarkable effort in setting up the infrastructure, personnel, communication links, and launch pads. 

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was constantly in negotiations with the other leading country’s space organization such as NASA and because of his efforts, the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) was launched during July 1975 - July 1976.

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was very much interested in science education and founded the Community Science Centre at Ahmedabad in 1956. It is also called Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC). He also started a project for the fabrication and the launch of an Indian satellite.

Vikram Sarabhai worked very passionately to ignite India’s first satellite, Aryabhatta but unfortunately, he passed away four years before the launch of the satellite. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 1966 and Padma Vibhushan in 1972 to remember and celebrate his life and the legacy he left behind. 

FAQs on Vikram Sarabhai Biography

Q1: When Did Vikram Sarabhai Die?

Ans: Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was a gem of India and he passed away on 30 December 1971 due to cardiac arrest at Halcyon Castle, Kovalam, Kerala.

Q2: What is Dr. Vikram Sarbhai known for?

Ans: Dr. Vikram Sarabhai is called the father of the Indian space organization and he is also known for laying the foundation stone for many institutes in India like the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.

Q3: Who was the First Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO)?

Ans: Dr. Vikram Sarbhai was the first chairman of the Indian space research organization.

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