“He who can listen to the music in the midst of noise can achieve great things”. Do you know who spoke these compelling lines? It was none other one of the most celebrated scientists India has ever produced, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. Today, 12th August, 2019, marks the 100th birth anniversary of the person we proudly call ‘The father of the Indian Space Programme’. But, was that all there was to this genius physicist, industrialist and innovator? Even as Google pays homage to Vikram Sarabhai to mark this day, there’s very little we know about the man behind ISRO.
So, here’s some trivia on the life, times and many achievements of this scientist.
Though his great achievement would remain the establishment of the coveted Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he was a leading force in other prestigious institutions as well. These include The Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad , Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University (CEPT University) in Ahmedabad, the Nehru Foundation for Development and the Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre.
After the success of the Russian Sputnik launch, he successfully convinced the Indian government of the importance of a space programme of its own. It was because of this that he was able start a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian Satellite. As a result, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian Cosmodrome.
ORG also known as the Operations Research Group Pvt Ltd, remains one of the largest market research organizations in the country. The man behind this firm’s foundation was also Mr. Vikram and it was groundbreaking, because ORG was the first market research organization to be established in the country.
His knowledge wasn’t just treasured and valued in India alone. Mr. Sarabhai was an international star. In 1973, the International Astronomical Union named a lunar crater (previously known as Bessel A) in the Sea of Tranquility, as the Sarabhai crater.
Contributed even after death
Dr. Sarabhai had a dialogue with NASA in 1966 regarding satellite setup in India. This led to the launch of the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE). The launch happened between July 1975 – July 1976 long after Dr. Sarabhai’s demise on 30 December 1971.
Family and personal life
Dr. Sarabhai met, fell in love and ultimately even got married to a renowned Indian classical dancer, Mrinalini, in 1942. The couple enjoyed a happily married life and bore two children, a daughter and a son. While daughter Mallika Sarabhai followed in her mother’s footsteps to become a classical dancer and even gained prominence as an actor and an activist; their son,Kartikeya Sarabhai, went on to become an active member in the scientific community.
Co-founded a dance academy
As a result of his marriage to a world renowned classical dancer, Dr. Sarabhai extended his founding contributions in the field of arts and performance as well. Together with his wife, he established the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad. Today, their daughter Mallika Sarabhai runs the school, which she has been successfully doing since the past 30 years now.
Dr. Sarabhai passed away at a very young age of 52 rather suddenly. On 30 December 1971, he died in a hotel room in Kerala after witnessing the launch of a Russian rocket. On the same day earlier, he had laid down the foundation stone of the Thumba railway station.
For his contributions and exemplary work in the field of science, he received The Padma Bhushan in 1966. He was even awarded the Padma Vibhushan posthumously in 1972. Such is the impact of his work, that to pay homage to him, ISRO announced an award in the name of Vikram Sarabhai on this day i.e. his 100th birthday. This award, titled the The Vikram Sarbhai Journalism award in Space Science Technology and Research will be conferrred to those journalists who have made noteworthy contributions in the fields of space science, applications and research.
On his first death anniversary, a postal stamp in his name was released by The Indian Postal Service. Besides this, on 22 July, ISRO launched the first lander-rover module from India and the lander carrying it has been named Vikram after the ISRO founder.
With the release of Mission Mangal just round the corner, it’s good to know about the man who started it all. Here’s wishing him a very happy 100th! May he continue to inspire us!
Is there anything else you know about this inspiring personality? Let us know in the comments!