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Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai (12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971) was an Indian scientist, physicist and astronomer. He was honoured with Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan (posthumously) in 1972.[6]

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, St John's 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 studentsK. 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 too became an active person in science. During his lifetime, he practiced Jainism.[7]

Professional lifeEdit

Known as the cradle of space sciences in India, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was founded in 1947 by Vikram Sarabhai.[8] 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[9] 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-owned business conglomerate. His interests varied from science to sports to statistics. He set up the 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 projects and institutions initiated or 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.[8] He was the founder of Indian Space Research Organisation.

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. Vikram Sarabhai and Kasturbhai Lalbhai, both natives of Gujarat were primarily responsible for the establishment of IIM in Ahmedabad.

Distinguished positionsEdit


Sarabhai on a 1972 Indian stamp
  • The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, (VSSC), which is the Indian Space Research Organization's lead facility for launch vehicle development located in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), capital of Kerala state, is named in his memory.
  • Along with other Ahmedabad-based industrialists, he played a major role in setting up of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
  • Indian Postal Department released a commemorative Postal Stamp On his first death anniversary (30 December 1972)
  • In 1973, the International Astronomical Union decided that a lunar crater, Bessel A, in the Sea of Serenity will be known as the Sarabhai crater.[13][14]
  • The lander on India's moon mission Chandrayaan-2 which was to land near the South Pole of the moon on Sep 20, 2019 was named Vikram in his honour.
  • Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC) located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat is named after him. Vikram Sarabhai established this institute around the 1960s.
  • Former World Quiz Champion Vikram Joshi was named after him.
  • On 12 August 2019, Google's Doodle for India commemorated Sarabhai's 100th birth anniversary.[15]


  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. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 14 August 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  7. ^ "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 program, or poet, thinker and spiritual leader Banarsidas who composed the magnum opus Ardhakathanaka, the first-ever autobiography in Hindi literature.
  8. ^ a b R., Parthasarathy (3 April 2003). "Vikram Sarabhai (1919-1971): Architect of Indian space programme". Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  9. ^ "BRIEF HISTORY". Physical Research Laboratory, Department of Space, Government of India. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  10. ^ "From the Archives (May 23, 1969): Sarabhai assails faltering nuclear policy". The Hindu. 23 May 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Former Chairmen of Atomic Energy Commission" (PDF). Government of India Department of Atomic Energy. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Space Applications Centre". Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  13. ^ Antonín Rükl: Atlas Měsíce, Aventinum (Praha 1991), chapter Bessel, page 74, ISBN 80-85277-10-7 (in Czech)
  14. ^ Sarabhai (crater)"Planetary Names: Sarabhai on Moon;". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, IAU, USGS, NASA. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  15. ^

External linksEdit

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