Indian Scientists - Vikram SarabhaiVikram Sarabhai, Vikram Sarabhai Photos, Vikram Sarabhai Graphics, Vikram Sarabhai Wallpapers, Vikram Sarabhai Pictures, Vikram Sarabhai Images.
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| Vikram Sarabhai
The pioneer of the Indian space research programme and the pride of Gujarat, Dr Vikram Sarabhai was the son of the famous industrialist Ambalal Sarabhai. He was born on August 12, 1919, in Ahmadabad. His father was a free thinker; an eminent and gutsy industrialist. His mother’s name was Sarladevi. She was a bold and progressive social worker. In this happy, prosperous and cultured family along with Vikram, eight brothers and sisters were provided education at home in their family school. All the children studied here and were well-educated.
Since childhood, Vikram was creative and full of curiosity. He often questioned his teachers and tried to unravel nature. From the start he was interested in mathematics and science, especially physics. The atmosphere at home too was conducive. Great personalities and scholars visiting Ahmadabad would be his father’s guests. Poet Laureate Rabindranath Tagore after talking with young Vikram had envisioned that this child would grow up to become a beacon of hope.
He spent his first two years of college at Gujarat College in Ahmadabad. After clearing his inter science examination from Mumbai (Bombay) University with distinction he left for England for further studies. He joined the St John College there and in 1939, he cleared the Tripos in physics. When he started research study the World War II had begun. He returned home to Join Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science and under the guidance of Professor C V Raman began research on cosmic rays. Meanwhile, Dr Homi Bhabha who too had returned from England, joined this institute. These two scientists forged a strong affinity.
Sarabhai knew that detailed study of the cosmic rays coming from the galaxy would help in understanding the magnetic field in space, the atmosphere, nature of the Sun and outer space. By the study of cosmic rays he was expected to unravel the mysteries of the solar system. To conduct experiments on cosmic rays, he went to the high ranges of the Himalayas. He found the high peaks of Kashmir best suited for the study of cosmic rays. After completing his experimental work on cosmic rays in India, he went to England once again in 1945. After obtaining PhD degree from Cambridge University, he returned to India.
While studying in Bangalore, he came in contact with the famous dancer Mrinalini and in 1942 they got married. Sarabhai set up Physical Research Laboratory in his residential bungalow. Meanwhile, Dr K R Ramanathan, who had retired from the Indian Meteorological Department, was invited to join as the first director of the new institute. In a short time this laboratory was shifted to the M G Science Institute premises in the University area of Ahmadabad. Later the PRL started work in its own multi-storeyed building and is now famous in science circles in the country and abroad.
Quiet and soft-spoken Sarabhai believed in punctuality and hard work. He behaved courteously with his students and co-workers. In 1955, a branch of PRL was opened in Gulmarg, Kashmir. Here the study of cosmic rays was started. In 1963, the Government of India developed this Institute as an independent laboratory.
Sarabhai contributed immensely In setting up of and managing many high level research institutes. He was a visionary, who selected worthy students, trained them and gave them befitting responsibilities. In Ahmadabad, he set up many institutes. To help textile industries of this city, he set up Ahmadabad Textile Industry Research Association (ATIRA). To train able administrators, the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) was set up. For school students to perform and understand experiments on their own, the Community Science Centre (CSC) was set up in the University area (which after the death of Sarabhai was renamed the Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC)) and many well-equipped institutes were set up for the development of space programmes. Besides, he set up PRL centres at Kodaikanal and Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). In 1965, he took charge as director of PRL. He set up the rocket-launching centre at Thumba. Since this centre is situated near the magnetic equator and scientists from all over the world can conduct experiments from here, this centre was dedicated to the international scientists community. After sometime, a space science and technology centre was established nearby. This centre was renamed the ‘Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre’ (VSSC) in his honour and memory. Like a magician who rubbed his hands to produce bouquets one by one for the public, Sarabhai after setting up PRL, established various institutes for its development in the space sector. Today all have sprawned into giant trees. At Sriharikota, he set up another rocket launching centre and in Ahmadabad; he set up the Space Applications Centre (SAC). Under the SITE (Satellite Instructional Television Education Programme), educational TV programmes were relayed from here since 1975.
Sarabhai also looked after the Industries set up by the family. He guided the students and after discussing space-related experiments with his co-workers would plan them. The Physical Research Laboratory was like the cradle of the Indian space programme. Here its childhood prospered. He was also the active member of the Atomic Energy Commission set up by the Government of India under the chairmanship of Dr Homi Bhabha. In 1966, after the untimely death of Dr Bhabha in a plane accident, Sarabhai had to take over the reins of the Atomic Energy Commission. He fully discharged his duties and guided the country to take a giant leap. Meanwhile, he took full responsibility and discharged his duties as chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Vikram had made up his mind to make the country self-reliant in the field of science and technology. Those days he worked for 15 hours daily. His only mission was to see the country progress in science and technology. He had discussed with his colleagues how to use the new technology for the benefit of the country and prepared a plan for the 1970-80 decade. He had put particular emphasis on the use of space science for the benefit of the country.
He had gone to Thumba for some experiments regarding rockets and meetings in the end of December, 1971. He had attended meetings till midnight. Late in the night he worked for a while in his hotel room before he went to sleep. But he never got up in the morning. It was then that the world came to know of his death. In the early hours of December 30, 1971, he had died in his sleep due to a heart stroke. Thus, he departed from us when he was just 52 years old. He had worked till the last hours of his life. He was a true karmayogi.
In the 1960 decade, it was confirmed that an artificial satellite would be very useful for the study of the world’s weather forecast. It was also clear that the satellite technique would be useful in knowing and developing our mineral wealth, in remote sensing, communications, farming, education, weather and defence services. Because of Sarabhai’s perception, the national committee for the space research programme was set up under his leadership, which was later renamed the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Today this organization has progressed a lot and earned laurels internationally. It also gives information and advice in the field of remote sensing to other countries and earns valuable foreign exchange.
Sarabhai received many national and international honours. In 1962, for his scientific services in the field of physics, he was awarded the Dr Shantiswaroop Bhatnagar Memorial Award. In 1966, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan. Thereafter, he was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
In 1961-62 at the Indian Science Congress Sarabhai was appointed the president of the physics section. In 1968, at the United Nations’ (UNO) Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Conference, he was selected Vice-president and Chairman. In 1970, at the 14th international general body meeting on Atomic Energy, he took over the charge as the President.
He believed that scientific research was a love towards Nature. In one sense, he was one step ahead of Homi Bhabha. In scientific institutions besides scientists he also understood the importance of administration. Like Bhabha, Sarabhai’s death too was unexpected, unbelievable and untimely. He departed when he was just 52 years old. The International Astronomical Union has honoured him by naming a crater in the Sea of Serenity on the moon after him. In memory of this great scientist, every year, any scientist making extraordinary contribution In the field of satellite communications system, rocket engineering, meteorological science, astronomy, physics, space science or other sciences is presented the Dr Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Award. Besides, every year since 1977, one scientist from the top scientists of the country or abroad is appointed as Vikram Sarabhai Professor for one year at the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmadabad. The students and scientists of the Institute get the benefit of the knowledge and guidance of this scientist.
The unexpected death of Sarabhai has been a great loss to the science world, and it cannot be filled easily. In his demise, Gujarat has lost a worthy son.