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Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai (12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971)[6] was an Indian scientist and innovator widely regarded as the father of India's space programme. Sarabhai received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal in 1962.[7] The nation honoured him by awarding Padma Bhushan in 1966 and Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) in 1972.[8]

Vikram Sarabhai
Vikram Sarabhai.jpg
Sarabhai signing a space research cooperation agreement at NASA in 1969
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai

(1919-08-12)12 August 1919[1]
Died30 December 1971(1971-12-30) (aged 52)
Alma materGujarat College, University of Cambridge
Known forfather of Indian space program
Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
Spouse(s)Mrinalini Sarabhai
ChildrenMallika Sarabhai (daughter)[2][3][4][5]
Kartikeya Sarabhai (son)
AwardsPadma Bhushan (1966)
Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) (1972)
Scientific career
InstitutionsIndian Space Research Organisation
Physical Research Laboratory
Doctoral advisorC. V. Raman
Doctoral studentsDr. K. Narayanan Nair, Udupi Ramachandra Rao


Personal lifeEdit

Vikram and Mrinalini Sarabhai c. 1948

Son of Ambalal Sarabhai, he came from the famous Sarabhai family of India who were major industrialists committed to the Indian independence movement. Vikram Sarabhai married the classical dancer Mrinalini in 1942. The couple had two children. His daughter Mallika gained prominence as an actress and activist, and his son Kartikeya Sarabhai too became an active person in science. During his lifetime, he practiced Jainism and belonged to the Shrimal Jain community of Ahmedabad.[9]

Professional lifeEdit

Known as the cradle of space sciences in India, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was founded in 1947 by Vikram Sarabhai. PRL had a modest beginning at his residence, the RETREAT, with research on cosmic rays.

The institute was formally established at the M.G. Science Institute, Ahmedabad, on 11 November 1947[10] with support from the Karmkshetra Educational Foundation and the Ahmedabad Education Society. Prof. Kalpathi Ramakrishna Ramanathan was the first Director of the institute. The initial focus was research on cosmic rays and the properties of the upper atmosphere. Research areas were expanded to include theoretical physics and radio physics later with grants from the Atomic Energy Commission.

He led the Sarabhai family's diverse business conglomerate. His interests varied from science to sports to statistics. He set up Operations Research Group (ORG), the first market research organization in the country. Most notable among the many institutes he helped set up are the Nehru Foundation for Development in Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), the Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association (ATIRA) and the (CEPT). Along with his wife Mrinalini Sarabhai, he founded the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. Other institutions established by him include the Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) in Kalpakkam, Variable Energy Cyclotron Project in Calcutta, Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in Jaduguda, Jharkhand.

Sarabhai started 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.

Indian Institute of Management (IIM), AhmedabadEdit

The decade following independence in 1947 was a witness to a surge of innovative ideas to build a fledgling independent nation into a model democratic state committed to growth with equity in the development of its people. The establishment of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) was the outcome of one such innovative initiative.

Distinguished positionsEdit

  • President of the Physics section, Indian Science Congress (1962)
  • President of the General Conference of the I.A.E.A., Vienna (1970)
  • Vice-President, Fourth UN Conference on 'Peaceful uses of Atomic Energy' (1971)
  • Founder(1963) and Chairman (1963-1971),Space Applications Centre[11]


Sarabhai on a 1972 stamp of India


  1. ^ "Vikram Sarabhai Biography". mapsofindia. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Mystery behind Vikram Sarabhai's death". Times of India. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Vikram Sarabhai's love affair gave birth to IIM-A". Times of India. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Witness to persecution". tribuneindia. 14 January 2006. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  5. ^ Amrita Shah (2007) Vikram Sarabhai: A Life. Penguin Viking. ISBN 0-670-99951-2
  6. ^ "The Visionary – Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai". Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Profile of the Awardee, Dr Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai". Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 14 August 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Jains steal the show with 7 Padmas". The times of India. Times of India. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015. The Jain community has always nurtured exceptional talent whether it is eminent scientist Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered the father of the country's space programme, or poet, thinker and spiritual leader Banarsidas who composed the magnum opus Ardhakathanaka, the first ever autobiography in Hindi literature.
  10. ^ "BRIEF HISTORY". Physical Research Laboratory, Department of Space, Government of India. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Antonín Rükl: Atlas Měsíce, Aventinum (Praha 1991), chapter Bessel, page 74, ISBN 80-85277-10-7 ‹See Tfd›(in Czech)
  13. ^ Sarabhai (crater)"Planetary Names: Sarabhai on Moon;". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, IAU, USGS, NASA. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2015.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by
Position created
ISRO Chairman
Succeeded by
M. G. K. Menon