Vikram Sarabhai is unanimously accepted across India as the “father” of its space program. Not really known well outside India, he died suddenly and prematurely at age of 52 in 1971. He had studied cosmic ray physics and gained his PHD from Cambridge in 1947 the same year India became an independent nation. He spent the rest of his life implementing a vision that the prosperity of India and all of its people lay in science. The scientific institutions he built still play key role in India today. Convincing the Indian population that they had the intellectual capacity to rebuild India with their own hands is perhaps his lasting legacy.
The most scholarly biography on his eventful life is Vikram Sarabhai – A life by Amrita Shah. A review of the book is available here. This episode is a recording with Amrita Shah conducted fittingly at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, where Vikram Sarabhai studied physics under C V Raman who in 1930 had won the Nobel Prize for physics.