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“Vikram Sarabhai: Remembering the Visionary Father of India’s Space Program”

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, born on August 12, 1919, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, is celebrated as the ‘Father of the Indian Space Program’. His remarkable contributions to the field of space research and nuclear power in India have left an indelible mark on the nation’s scientific landscape. Sarabhai founded the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962, which later evolved into the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a cornerstone of India’s achievements in space science.

Sarabhai’s vision extended beyond space research. He was instrumental in setting up a network of institutions that played pivotal roles in India’s scientific and industrial development. Among these, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) stand out for their contributions to science and management education, respectively. His role in establishing the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in southern India was crucial in the development of rocket technology in the country.

In recognition of his immense contributions, Sarabhai was honored with the Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan posthumously in 1972. His work on cosmic rays and the initiation of a project that led to the launch of India’s first satellite, Aryabhata, in 1975 from a Russian cosmodrome, are testament to his foresight and scientific acumen.

Sarabhai’s dedication to science and his ability to inspire and develop talent were exceptional. He is remembered not only for his scientific prowess but also for his warm personality and compassion for others. His ability to instantly establish rapport and respect with those he interacted with was a key part of his leadership style.

Despite his untimely death on December 30, 1971, at the age of 52, Sarabhai’s legacy continues to influence India’s space and nuclear research, reflecting his dream of an India self-reliant in these critical fields.

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