Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, in full Vikram Sarabhai, (born August 12, 1919, Ahmadabad, India - died December 30, 1971, Kovalam) was an Indian physicist and industrialist who initiated space research and helped develop nuclear power in India.
Sarabhai was born into a family of industrialists in 1940. He attended college but later transferred to the University of Cambridge, England, where he completed his degree in Natural Sciences in 1940. World War II forced him to return to India, where he began research at the Indian Institute of Science under Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. In 1945 he returned to Cambridge for a Ph.D. and finally wrote a thesis on "Cosmic Rays from Tropical Latitudes" in 1947—he founded the Physical Research Laboratory in India on his return.
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The range and breadth of Sarabhai's interests were remarkable. In spite of his intense involvement with scientific research, he took an active interest in the industry, business, and development issues. Sarabhai founded the Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association in 1947 and looked after its affairs until 1956. Realizing the need for professional management education in India, Sarabhai was instrumental in setting up the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad in 1962.
Established in 1962, the Indian National Committee for Space Research became the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Sarabhai helped set up its ground station in southern India. After Homi Bhabha died in 1966, Sarabhai was appointed chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India, carrying on Bhabha's work. Sarabhai laid the foundations for the indigenous development of nuclear technology for defense purposes.
With a spirit of innovation, curiosity, and academic rigor, Homi Bhabha was committed to science and technology. He believed that technology should be explored by the common man for the greater good. Sarabhai initiated programs to take education to remote villages through satellite communication and called for the development of satellite-based remote sensing of natural resources.
Sarabhai was awarded two of India's highest honors, the Padma Bhushan (1966) and the Padma Vibhushan (awarded posthumously in 1972).
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