Vikram Sarabhai’s 100th Birthday – Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Mumbai-based guest artist Pavan Rajurkar, celebrates the 100th birthday of award-winning Indian physicist, industrialist, and innovator Vikram Sarabhai, remembered by many as the father of India’s space program. Beyond his personal interest in cosmic rays, rockets, and satellites, Dr. Sarabhai believed in using science and technology as “levers of development.”
Born in the city of Ahmadabad on this day in 1919, Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai attended Gujarat College before traveling to England to earn his doctorate at Cambridge.
“There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation,” said Dr. Sarabhai following the launch of Russia’s Sputnik satellite. “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.”
Dr. Sarabhai established the Indian National Committee for Space Research in 1962, later renamed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). This led to the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in southern India, which had its first successful launch on November 21st, 1963. His dream of an Indian satellite was realized when Aryabhata went into orbit in 1975.
He also founded many important institutions in his homeland, such as the Physical Research Laboratory (when he was just 28 years old), the Indian Institute of Management, and the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology. He also served as chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission.
Dr. Sarabhai’s commitment to science education led to the Community Science Center in Ahmedabad, which now bears his name. A crater on the moon was named in his honor in 1973. Earlier this summer the ISRO launched the Chandrayaan-2 mission in hopes of making India the fourth country to land on the moon. The Vikram lander is scheduled to touch down on the lunar surface on September 7th of this year.
Guest Artist Q&A with Pavan Rajurkar
Today’s Doodle was created by Mumbai-based guest artist Pavan Rajurkar. Below he shares his thoughts on the making of the Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: It had always been a dream to contribute to a Google Doodle, and when this opportunity knocked on my door, it was for the father of India’s space program, a man the nation can’t thank enough for his immense contributions in the field of space and research. For me, it was a moment of pride and joy to be able to work upon something so close to my heart. Apart from that, I strongly believe that even a slice of his journey as an Indian scientist and innovator can be very inspiring for the upcoming generation.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: My excitement knew no bounds! As soon as I got to know about the topic, I started planning the composition and outlining it in my head. An opportunity like this is a big deal for any artist because this work can reach a lot of people and give them inspiration. It made me proud and very happy that I was given this chance to pay tribute to Vikram Sarabhai.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: For some ideas, I referred to India’s commendable success in terms of satellites and space missions. For others, I referred to portraits of Dr. Sarabhai and other elements that I could bring together using my own signature style.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: To present your art on a platform like this definitely comes with an implied responsibility, since it’s on display for as many viewers as one could possibly imagine. Vikram Sarabhai played a crucial role in highlighting India through his hard work and intelligence. His life journey stands as an inspiration for many to continue doing research on a subject as infinite as space. He taught us that dreams can be fulfilled if your will and determination are stronger than your apprehensions.
Early drafts by guest artist Pavan Rajurkar
You can find more about Vikram Sarabhai’s 100th Birthday on the official Google Doodle Page