Vikram Sarabhai: Pioneer of Science and Multifaceted Achievements
The life and achievements of Vikram Sarabhai stand as a testament to his remarkable contributions across a spectrum of disciplines. Notably, he laid the foundation for the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad in November 1947, a groundbreaking institution that marked the inception of space sciences in India. What began as a modest initiative within the M.G. Science Institute of the Ahmedabad Education Society, founded by his parents, evolved with support from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Atomic Energy. Initially centered on cosmic ray research and atmospheric studies, PRL's horizons expanded to encompass radiophysics and theoretical physics, fueled by grants from the Atomic Energy Commission. Sarabhai's visionary outlook also pioneered the field of solar and interplanetary physics, marking a significant chapter in his legacy.
Yet, his interests extended beyond science. Sarabhai ventured into domains as diverse as statistics and sports. He instituted the Operations Research Group (ORG), India's first market research organization. He became the architect behind institutions such as the Nehru Foundation for Development, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA), and the CEPT. Collaborating with his wife, Mrinalini Sarabhai, he gave life to the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. Furthermore, his influence resonated in pivotal projects like the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) in Kalpakkam, the Variable Energy Cyclotron Project in Calcutta, the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad, and the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in Jaduguda, Jharkhand.
Upon the unexpected passing of Dr. Homi Bhabha, Sarabhai assumed the mantle of Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in May 1966. His tenure marked the inception of a remarkable journey, embarking on the fabrication and launch of India's own satellite. Through unwavering determination, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, gracefully soared into orbit in 1975 from the Russian cosmodrome. This historic triumph bestowed upon him the title of the Father of the Indian Space Program, forever etching his name in the annals of space exploration.