BENGALURU: He wore many hats, but the one he’s known extraordinarily for—launching the Indian space programme with a blueprint which focused on linking technology with development to benefit the masses—was driven by his commitment to “a more just, fair and unexploitative India for the last Indian,” says Dr Vikram Sarabhai’s daughter Mallika Sarabhai on the scientist-visionary-industrialist’s birth centenary.
For Mallika and her brother Kartikeya, memories of their exposure and interaction with greatest minds-Nobel laureates, artistes or astronauts, are indelible as they grew up discussing not only the Indian space programme but a gamut of topics with their legendary patriarch. But in everything he started-he’s credited with establishing or guiding 38 organisations or institutes-they recognised his philosophy: provide the best to the country and humanity. “I am so happy that there is still a lot left of his vision and his ideals (in the space programme). He would be so happy to know that women were in charge of MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission), and are running Chandrayaan 2,” she told Deccan Chronicle in an interview.
She reminisced: “He always thought we could stretch our working hours. He slept little, took a cat nap for ten minutes post lunch, woke at 4 a.m. and was filled with thoughts for the country and humanity. That gave him the energy. When Kartikeya and I complained that he spent too little time with us, he would say, oh that is not true, I am here so often. Then we made a calendar and marked red crosses on the nights he was away and showed it to him at the end of every month and he would ruefully accept and say, I will make it better. It never did become better.”