Vikram Sarabhai (1919-71), the renaissance man of Indian science, visualized the impossible and often made it happen. Founder of India's space programme, Vikram dreamed of communication satellites that would educate people at a time when even a modest rocket programme seemed daring; of huge agricultural complexes serviced by atomic power and desalinated sea water. He envisioned research technology that would free Indian industry from foreign dependence, and of a world-class management college that would train managers for the public sector.
Vikram Sarabhai: A Life is the story of this dynamic visionary. Born into an immensely wealthy and politically conscious business family, Vikram had an early understanding of the power of money and the problems of a newly independent nation, to which he married a deep love for physics. Between 1947 and 1971, he built a thriving pharmaceutical business, conducted research into cosmic rays, set up India's first textile research cooperative, ATIRA, the first market research organization, ORG, the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad and the dance academy Darpana. He also headed the Atomic Energy Commission and laid the foundations for the world's first entirely peaceful space programme.
Good-looking, charismatic, married to the glamorous classical dancer Mrinalini, and closely associated with the most influential figures of his time-C.V. Raman, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Homi Bhabha, Bruno Rossi, Louis Kahn and John Rockefeller III-Vikram seemed to have led a charmed existence. Yet, his personal life was troubled and his strong resistance to India's move towards a nuclear explosion in the late 1960s put him at odds with powerful lobbies and fellow technologists.
Amrita Shah delves into the life and mind of this fascinating, complex individual. This is a vivid and intimate portrait of a multifaceted genius who died young, but whose vision still drives India's ambitious space programme and inspires Indians in all walks of life.