India SciTech

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s death: Foul Play cannot be ruled Out


Tapan Misra

I was amused with this article where there is an attempt to put forward a new argument for the cause of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s death, with a misleading headline. People like Dr. Sarabhai or any scientist holding similar position, are always accustomed to very punishing schedules and work hours. Though at the end, nicely one sentence has been slipped to suggest that foul play cannot be discounted.


I was told that CIA made a big dossier on Dr. Sarabhai’s death. It appears that when they declassified the dossier, they black inked most of the dossier.

That Mrs. Gandhi suspected foul play, probably from inner circles, in Dr. Sarabhai ‘s death herself, is evident for her selection of Prof Satish Dhawan, a rank outsider, as first Secretary of newly created DOS, after sad demise of Dr. Sarabhai. She steered clear of selecting the vociferous claimant, close to Dr. Sarabhai. Dr. Sarabhai died as Secretary of DAE and Chairman of AEC, though he nurtured space related activities under DAE itself. In my understanding, he never intended to separate space activity from DAE. There were internal forces, led by a dominant scientist, who wanted a separate space empire. But Mrs. Gandhi disappointed him, for reasons she knew the best. For general information, till today, no Government has ever employed anybody in the position of “Chairman, ISRO “.

From my personal experience, I know that foul play is distinct possibility and I also can vouch how the insiders who indulge in foul play to the extent of assassination, go to the extreme of whitewashing through friendly media and Wikipedia editors apart from shaming and punishing the victim himself.

I was dismayed by indirect insinuation that Dr. Sarabhai was a pacifist and as a corollary, against national interest, though unsaid explicitly. Those DAE scientists who served National Interest were blatantly termed as hawks. There cannot be anything further from truth.

Also it pains me to note the insinuation that our PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi succumbed to the pressure of scientist hawks and that created her distancing from pacifist Dr. Sarabhai. It appears to be an attempt to portray towering personality of Mrs. Gandhi as weak kneed and to project our National achievements as just manifestation of selfish desires of some hawkish scientists like Dr. Sethna. The iron lady, whom even President Nixon, Secretary of State Kissinger and mighty Seveth Fleet in the Bay of Bengal, could not frighten even a bit, was forced by hawkish scientists to create 1974 nuclear explosion!! Just plain rubbish. Whose interests are we serving?

The author Tapan Misra is a distinguished scientist. He was Director Space Application Centre, Director Physical Research Laboratory and Advisor Space in Department of Space, Government of India


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