On the eminent Indian scientist Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s birthday, an article on India in Space concentrating on the mission and vision of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai.
About Dr. Vikram Sarabhai
“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. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.”— Dr. Sarabhai.
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919 to a wealthy family at Ahmedabad. During his childhood his ancestral home. The Retreat at Ahmedabad, used to be visited by important people from all walks of life. This played an important role in the growth of Sarabhai’s personality. His parents were Ambalal Sarabhai and Saraladevi Sarabhai. Sarabhai had his early educatio in the family school started by his mother Saraladevi on the line propounded by Mme. Maria Montessori. After completing his Intermediate Science examination from Gujrat College, Cambridge (UK) in 1937 where he obtained his Tripos in Natural Sciences in 1940. At the outbreak of the Second World War he returned to India and joined the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore where he took up research in cosmic rays under the supervision of C.V. Raman. He published his first research paper entitled “Time Distribution of Cosmic Rays” in the Proceedings of Indian Academy of Sciences. Sarabhai’s work on cosmic rays during the period 1940-45 included the study of the time variations of cosmic rays with Geiger-Muller counters at Bangalore and at the high level station in the Kashmir Himalayas. After the war he returned to Cambridge to work for his PhD is cosmic ray physics. In 1947, he was awarded PhD by the Cambridge University for his thesis `Cosmic Ray investigation in Tropical Latitudes’. He also carried out an accurate measurement of the cross-section for the photo fission of U-238 by 6.2 MeV y-rays which formed a part of his PhD thesis. After getting his PhD he returned to India and continued his research in cosmic ray physics. In India he studied interplanetary space, solar-terrestrial relationships and geomagnetism. Some of the well-known institutions established by Sarabhai are:-
- Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad
- Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad
- Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad
- Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad (along with his wife)
- Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuramm
- Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad (This institution came into existence after merging six institutions/centres established by Sarabhai)
- Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam
- Varaiable Energy Cyclotron Project, Calcutta
- Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad
- Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar