The Hindu Business Line
Saluting Vikram Sarabhai, who pushed India to reach for the stars
Google on Monday celebrated the 100th birthday of Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, one of India’s greatest scientists and regarded as the father of India’s space programme, with a Doodle. Fittingly, this comes just as India launched Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to the Moon with a lander named Vikram, which is expected to touchdown on our satellite’s surface on September 7.
After returning from Cambridge in 1947, Sarabhai persuaded charitable trusts controlled by his family and friends to endow a research institution near home in Ahmedabad.
Thus, emerged the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, when he was just 28 years. From here started his long and epic journey to build India’s space programme.
Sarabhai was also Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. He, along with other Ahmedabad-based industrialists, played a major role in the creation of the Indian Institute of Management- Ahmedabad.
The establishment of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was one of Sarabhai’s greatest achievements. He successfully convinced the government of the importance of a space programme for a developing country like India after the Russian Sputnik launch.
No ambiguity, no fantasy
Emphasising the importance of a space programme, Sarabhai once said, “There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight.”
In fact, Sarabhai started a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian satellite. As a result of which the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, was put in orbit in 1975 by a Russian rocket.
From that small beginning to the latest Chandrayaan-2 launch, India’s space programme has come a long way, with plenty more to come, including sending a man to space.
Remembering Sarabhai on his birth centenary, President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted: “Considered the father of our space programme, Dr Sarabhai was a stalwart of Indian science. He built several institutions; mentored & inspired generations of scientists. We cherish his services and his legacy.”