August 12 is the 100th birthday of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India's space programme. Search engine giant Google has dedicated a doodle to the scientist on the occasion. Born Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai on August 12, 1919, in a famous family of industrialists in Ahmedabad, Dr Sarabhai grew up in the midst of the Indian independence movement. He went to Gujarat College and later attained a doctorate degree from Cambridge University. Upon his return to India, he established the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in 1947 in Ahmedabad. The institute started off with research on cosmic rays.
The Indian physicist, scientist and innovator had been awarded with some of the prestigious awards by the Government of India such as the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. To commemorate his 100th birthday, Google used an illustration by Mumbai-based artist Pavan Rajurkar in its doodle.
Despite his intense involvement in scientific research, Dr Sarabhai actively participated in industry, business, and development issues. He founded the Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association in 1947. His played a key role in setting up the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad in 1962. He also helped set up the Nehru Foundation for Development in Ahmedabad.
The Indian National Committee for Space Research, established in 1962, later transformed into the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Dr Sarabhai began a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian satellite that paved the way for the launch of the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, in 1975.
After the success of the Russian satellite Sputnik, Dr Sarabhai explained the importance of a space programme to the Indian Government. Nuclear physicist Homi Bhabha supported his initiatives and helped him set up the first rocket launching station in India.
Dr Sarabhai was appointed the chairman of the Atomic Commission of India after the death of Homi Bhabha.
This legendary scientist passed away on 30 December 1971 in Thiruvananthapuram.