The Google Doodle today is a special one for space buffs in India. It celebrated the hundredth birth anniversary of Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, a rare combination of scientist, innovator, industrialist and visionary. The award-winning Indian physicist, who was more popularly remembered as "the father of India’s space program," is brought to life in a stunning illustration by Pavan Rajurkar, a guest artist based in Mumbai.
Dr Sarabhai was of the strong belief that applications of science and technology were "levers of development." At a time when India had much more to do in the way of development than it does today, Dr Sarabhai's vision and belief in the need for a thriving space program in the country made all the difference, in the view of some experts, ISRO included. Born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on 12 August 1919, Dr Sarabhai attended Gujarat College before traveling to England to earn his doctorate at Cambridge University.
"There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation," Dr Sarabhai was quoted as saying after the launch of Russia's (and the world's first) artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik. "To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose… We must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society."
Today, on his birth anniversary, we remember the exemplary Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. His contribution to Indian science and innovation is tremendous. His efforts ensured India made rapid strides in science and space. https://t.co/ZUFuo9Bl2L
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 12, 2019
In 1962, Dr Sarabhai founded what was then known as the "Indian National Committee for Space Research," in Jawaharlal Nehru's tenure. This organisation would later be renamed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Many of India's proudest early moments in science and space research were made possible under his guidance — the first successful launch from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Thiruvananthapuram on 21 November 1963, among them. Dr Sarabhai's dream of an Indian satellite in space would be realised a whole decade later, when Aryabhata took its place in orbit in 1975.
Dr Sarabhai also helped build several nationally-important institutions in his native city, like the Physical Research Laboratory (he was just 28 years old then), the Indian Institute of Management, and the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology. He also served as Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission between 1966 and 1971. Dr Sarabhai's commitment to science education in the country also led to the Community Science Center being set up in Ahmedabad. Today, the institution bears his name.
Also bearing his name are the Vikram lander on the Chandrayaan 2 mission, and a crater on the moon, named in his honor in 1973. The Vikram lander is scheduled to touch down on the lunar surface on 7 September this year.