The Greatest Indian: Contribution to different sectors
Polity: The State of the State
31st May, 2022
- Choosing the ‘Greatest Indian After Gandhi’ is difficult when the present exerts such a strong pull over our view of the past and there is a wide variation between how the ‘greatness’ of an individual is assessed by the common person and by the experts. Nations need heroes, but the construction of a national pantheon is rarely straightforward or uncontested.
- After India became independent, the national pantheon offered to its citizens was massively dominated by leaders of the Congress Party. Mahatma Gandhi was positioned first, with Jawaharlal Nehru only a short distance behind. Both had played important roles in the freeing of the country from colonial rule. Both were truly great Indians. Gandhi is seen as the Father of the Nation and Nehru its Guide and Mentor in the first, formative years of the Republic’s existence.
- The Indian who, in subsequent decades, has surfaced as a strong candidate is R. Ambedkar. A scholar, legal expert, institution builder and agitator, Ambedkar played a heroic (the word is inescapable) role in bringing the problems of the untouchable castes to wider attention. In this article, we shall be attempting to delve into the contributions of some of the finest individual that has been instrumental in shaping India.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi:
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is widely recognized as one of the twentieth century's greatest political and spiritual leaders. Honoured in India as the father of the nation, he pioneered and practised the principle of Satyagraha—resistance to tyranny through mass nonviolent civil disobedience.
- Almost every Indian is well aware of Gandhi's public image as the social reformer, politician, preacher, lawyer, and freedom fighter who waged a long war to end colonialism, and sought to end the longstanding Hindu- Muslim divide and caste-based discrimination in the country.
- Gandhi was one of the pioneers of environmental sustainability. The quintessential Gandhian question- “How much should a person consume?” still rings true today. His model of sustainability continues to hold relevance in our burgeoning and populous nation.
- The philosophy of non-violence or Ahimsa has become synonymous with Gandhi. His practice of Ahimsa was an extension of respect for other religions and a sense of fraternity. Gandhi vehemently opposed injustice and authoritarian rule, but sans any arms or violent actions.
- To emancipate Dalits and uplift the so-called untouchables' condition, Gandhi set up the All India Anti-Untouchability League and later renamed it Harijan Sevak Sangh. He coined the term Harijan; which translates to “children of God” - a term far above the derogatory and derisive words used for identifying them.
- Through his leadership in the Civil Disobedience Movement, Gandhi played a crucial role in the unification of the country, awakening the masses, and bringing politics within reach of the common man.
B. R. Ambedkar:
- Ambedkar is recognised as the "founding father of the Republic of India". Polymath scholar, social reformer and leader of the Dalits, Ambedkar was the architect of the Indian Constitution and also served as the first Law Minister of India.
- He was given the honorific title "Babasaheb" ("respected father"). Ambedkar predominantly campaigned against social discrimination against Dalits, Women, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes in the Hindu caste system.
- He forced Gandhi to take a more serious, focused, interest in the plight of the depressed classes, and he himself started schools, colleges and a political party to advance their interests. He was the central, sometimes sole, inspiration for a new generation of Dalit activists and scholars. Obscure at the time of his death in 1956, condescended to by the academic community until the 1980s (at least), Ambedkar is today the only genuinely all-India political figure, worshipped in Dalit homes across the land. Notably, he is not a Dalit hero alone, his achievements are recognised among large sections of the Indian middle class.
- He was associated with the Dalit Buddhist movement and accepted Buddhism as a religion along with his more than half a million followers on 14 October 1956. Ambedkar revived Buddhism in India.
- Under Jawaharlal Nehru’s directive in 1946, the All-India Council of Technical Education committee, chaired by Sir N R Sarkar, set up the first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur, West Bengal, in May 1950. Today, they are institutes of national Importance, responsible for enriching the fields of science and engineering.
- Also, he laid the foundations of a dual-track nuclear programme due to which India achieved nuclear-capable status.
- Nehru believed that India belonged to all who had contributed to its history and civilisation and that the majority community had a special obligation to protect the rights, and promote the well-being, of the minorities.
- For Nehru, Non-alignment (NAM) was the response to the bipolar divisions of the Cold War era. This policy of NAM, made India one of the most distinguished leaders of Third World solidarity, reached out to the rest of the colonised world, and forged a joint front against colonialism and a reinvented imperialism.
- Following China’s successful nuclear programme, Indira Gandhi urged scientists to develop India’s nuclear arsenal. On May 18, 1974, India tested its first nuclear bomb, Pokhran 1, in Pokhran, Rajasthan. In1998, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, citing security issues with Pakistan, commissioned Pokhran II (Operation Shakti).
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel
- He worked extensively against alcohol consumption, untouchability, caste discrimination and for women's emancipation in Gujarat and outside.
- Integrated the farmer’s cause in Kheda Satyagraha (1918) and Bardoli Satyagraha (1928) with the national freedom movement.
- Women of Bardoli bestowed the title ‘Sardar’ on Vallabhbhai Patel, which means ‘a Chief or a Leader’.
- Remembered as the ‘Patron Saint of India’s Civil Servants’ as he established the modern all-India services system.
- As India’s first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Patel played a key role in the integration of about 565 princely states into the Indian Union.
- Few princely states like Travancore, Hyderabad, Junagadh, Bhopal and Kashmir were averse to joining the state of India.
- Sardar Patel worked tirelessly to build a consensus with the princely states but did not hesitate in employing the methods of Sama, Dama, Dand and Bhed wherever necessary.
- He had used force to annex the princely states of Junagadh ruled by Nawab and Hyderabad ruled by Nizam, both of whom had wished not to merge their respective states with the Union of India.
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stitched the princely states along with British Indian territory and prevented the balkanization of India.
- Known as the “Iron Man of India” for playing an important role in the unification and integration of Indian princely states into the Indian federation and for convincing princely states to align with the Indian Union.
- India's youngest Prime Minister recognised the need to prepare for the 21st Century and launched the computer and telecom revolutions that would change the country.
- Rajiv Gandhi is hailed as the 'Father of Information Technology and Telecom Revolution of India'. He is rightfully known as the architect of digital India.
- Rajiv Gandhi promoted science and technology and associated industries. One of the ways was to reduce import quotas, taxes and tariffs on such industries, especially computers, airlines, defence and telecommunications. The Indian Railways was modernised after the introduction of computerised railway tickets.
- Rajiv Gandhi is credited with laying the foundation of Panchayati Raj institutions in order to take democracy to the grassroots level. Though Panchayati Raj was created by the 73rd and the 74th Amendments to the Constitution in 1992, a year after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, the background was prepared during the Congress government led by him.
- Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister announced National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1986 to modernise and expand higher education programmes across the country. With NPE in place, residential schools called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, under the central government, were set up to bring out the best of rural talent.
- Erode Venkata Ramasamy Periyar was born in 1879 in what was then called the Madras Presidency to a Kannada businessman and later joined his father's business. He joined the Congress party in 1919 but left it after he found it to be dominated by Brahmins. Much later, he started his own Dravidar Kazhagam party, which is considered the inspiration for all political parties and launched later on the plank of Tamil pride.
- He complained about the marginalisation of South Indians by "Indo-Aryan" North India and attacked Brahmin dominance of Indian society, especially in Tamil Nadu.
- With regards to property rights for women, Periyar stated that there was no difference between men and women. He went on to say that like men, women should have the right to own property and enjoy its benefits
P V Narasimha Rao
- In 1991, then Prime Minister of India, P V Narasimha Rao dismantled the bulky License Raj era in India, de-regularised privatisation and tax reforms and ushered in the liberalisation of the Indian economy, which led to the economy being more market- and service-oriented and expanded the role of private and foreign investment in the country.
|The economic reforms of 1991 - initiated by the late Narasimha Rao, Dr Manmohan Singh, Shri P Chidambaram and Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia - opened up the minds of Indian corporate leaders to the power of global markets, helped them accept competition at home and abroad, and raised the confidence of consumers. Our hard currency reserves have gone up from a mere US$ 1.5 billion in 1991 to over US$ 220 billion today. The reforms encouraged entrepreneurship and gave confidence to businessmen and entrepreneurs to dream big, create jobs, enhance exports, acquire companies abroad and follow the finest principles of corporate governance.
Jagadish Chandra Bose:
- He was a pioneer in the arena of microwave devices. Bose holds the first patent in the world for a solid-state diode detector used to detect electromagnetic waves. He was averse to all forms of patenting through and patented the diode only due to pressure from his colleagues.
- He could have earned a fortune had he patented his many inventions. He, however, chose to make all his research public so that other researchers could carry out further research.
- Sir Neville Mott, British physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1977 has remarked, “J.C. Bose was at least 60 years ahead of his time. He had anticipated the existence of P-type and N-type semiconductors.”
- Acharya Bose was also renowned for his work on the physiology of plants. He believed that plants could feel and were aware of their surroundings. He was the first person to prove that plants feel pain and understand affection. He demonstrated the electrical nature of plant stimuli (like wounds, chemical agents, etc.). He researched the seasonal effect on plants and also the effect of chemical inhibitors and temperature on plants. Thus, he contributed significantly to agriculture also.
- Largely unaccredited for his work on radio communications until recently, there has been an understanding of his work and his contributions to the development of modern wireless communications in recent times. He is now regarded as one of the fathers of radio science.
- He is also the discoverer of millimetre length electromagnetic waves.
- He also proposed the existence of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, which was confirmed in 1944. After that Bose focused his attention to response phenomena in plants. He presented that not only animal but vegetable tissues produce similar electric responses under different kinds of stimuli – mechanical, thermal, electrical and chemical.
- V. Raman was one of the most famous scientists of India. Raman’s academic brilliance was established at a very young age. He had a pioneering work on the scattering of light, C.V. Raman won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930. He was the first Asian and first non-White to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences. Raman also worked on the acoustics of musical instruments. He was the first to investigate the harmonic nature of the sound of the Indian drums such as the tabla and the mridangam.
- He discovered that, when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This phenomenon is now called the Raman scattering and is the result of the Raman Effect.
Prafulla Chandra Ray:
- He was a Famous academician and chemist, known for being the founder of Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals, India’s first pharmaceutical company. In 1889, Prafulla Chandra was chosen as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the Presidency College, Kolkata. His publications on miraculous nitrite and its derivatives brought him recognition from all over the world.
- His role as a teacher was significant as he inspired the young generation of chemists in India to build up an Indian school of chemistry. Famous Indian scientists like Meghnad Saha and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar were among his students. Prafulla Chandra contributed to developing industries in India.
- He set up the first chemical factory in India, with very minimal resources, working from his home. In 1901, this pioneering effort resulted in the formation of Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works Ltd.
Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya:
- He was a notable Indian engineer, scholar, statesman and the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918. Sir M. Visvesvaraya was one of the most eminent engineers of India. He maintained high principles and discipline in his life.
- He was best known for his contribution as the chief architect behind the construction of the Krishna Raja Sagara dam in Mandya which helped to convert the surrounding barren lands into fertile grounds for farming. Visvesvaraya was knighted as the Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE) by the British for his contributions to society in 1915. He was a recipient of the Indian Republic’s highest honour, the Bharat Ratna for his persistent work in the fields of engineering and education. He was also awarded with several honorary doctoral degrees from eight universities in India.
- Sir M V suggested that India try to be at par with industrialized nations as he believed that India can become developed through industries. He has the credit for inventing ‘automatic sluice gates’ and ‘block irrigation systems’ which are still considered to be marvels in engineering. Each year, his birthday 15 September is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India.
- Meghnad Saha belonged to the District of Dacca, now in Bangladesh. In 1920, Meghnad Saha had developed himself as a renowned physicist of the time. Meghnad Saha has contributed in the arena of the thermal ionisation of elements, and it led him to formulate what is known as the Saha Equation. This equation is one of the basic tools for the interpretation of the spectra of stars in astrophysics. His theory of high-temperature ionization of elements and its application to stellar atmospheres, as expressed by the Saha equation, is fundamental to modern astrophysics; subsequent development of his ideas has led to increased knowledge of the pressure and temperature distributions of stellar atmospheres.
- By studying the spectra of various stars, one can find their temperature and from that, using Saha’s equation, determine the ionisation state of the various elements making up the star. He also invented an instrument to measure the weight and pressure of solar rays. He was also the chief architect of river planning in India. He prepared the original plan for the Damodar Valley Project. He had a great role in the development of scientific institutions throughout India as well as in national economic planning involving technology.
Satyendra Nath Bose:
- Satyendra Nath Bose was an outstanding Indian physicist specialising in quantum mechanics. He is of course most remembered for his excellent role played in the class of particles ‘bosons’, which were named after him by Paul Dirac to commemorate his work in the field. He is known for his work in Quantum Physics.
- He is famous for "Bose-Einstein Theory" and a kind of particle in an atom has been named after his name Boson. Bose adapted a lecture at the University of Dhaka on the theory of radiation and the ultraviolet catastrophe into a short article called “Planck’s Law and the Hypothesis of Light Quanta” and sent it to Albert Einstein. Einstein agreed with him, translated Bose’s paper “Planck’s Law and Hypothesis of Light Quanta” into German, and had it published in Zeitschrift für Physik under Bose’s name, in 1924. This formed the basis of the Bose-Einstein Statistics.
- In 1937, Rabindranath Tagore dedicated his only book on science, Visva–Parichay, to Satyendra Nath Bose. The Government of India awarded him India’s second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954.
- He was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. He did commendable work in astrophysics, physics and applied mathematics. Chandrasekhar has bestowed the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for Physics for his mathematical theory of black holes. The Chandrasekhar limit is named after him.
- He was the nephew of CV Raman. Chandra became a United States citizen in 1953. Chandra was a popular teacher who guided over fifty students to their PhD including some who went on to win the Nobel Prize themselves.
- His research explored nearly all branches of theoretical astrophysics and he published ten books, each covering a different topic, including one on the relationship between art and science. His most famous work concerns the radiation of energy from stars, particularly white dwarf stars, which are the dying fragments of stars.
- Vikram Sarabhai was among the distinguished scientists of India. He is considered as the Father of the Indian space program. India’s first satellite Aryabhata launched in 1975, was one of the many projects planned by him. Like Bhabha, Sarabhai wanted the practical application of science to reach the common man.
- Therefore, he saw a golden opportunity to harness space science to the development of the country in the fields of communication, meteorology, remote sensing and education. The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) launched in 1975-76, brought education to five million people in 2,400 Indian villages. In 1965, he established the Community Science Centre in Ahmedabad to popularise science among children.
- His profound cultural interests led him, along with his wife Mrinalini Sarabhai, to establish Darpana Academy, an institution devoted to performing arts and propagation of the ancient culture of India. Besides scientist, he had a combined qualities as an innovator, industrialist and visionary. He was awarded with the Bhatnagar Memorial Award for Physics in 1962, the Padma Bhushan in 1966, and was subsequently awarded the Padma Vibhushan. He was the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1966, Vice-President and Chairman of the UN Conference on peaceful uses of outer space in 1968, and President of the 14th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The International Astronomical Union named a crater on the moon (in the Sea of Serenity) after him, in honour of his marvellous role to science.
APJ Abdul Kalam:
- Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is remembered as a great scientist, an inspirational leader and an extraordinary human being. As a scientist, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar SLV and SLV-III projects between the 1970s and 1990s.
- Both of which proved to be a success. In the 1970s, Kalam also directed two projects, namely, Project Devil and Project Valiant, which sought to develop ballistic missiles from the technology of the successful SLV programme. Despite the disapproval of the Union Cabinet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi allotted secret funds for these aerospace projects through her discretionary powers under Kalam's directorship.
- Kalam played a vital role in convincing the Union Cabinet to conceal the true nature of these classified aerospace projects. His research and educational leadership brought him great laurels and prestige in the 1980s, which prompted the government to initiate an advanced missile program under his directorship.
- Besides being a distinguished scientist and engineer, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam served as the 11th President of India from the period 2002 to 2007. He played an intensive political and technological role when the Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted. Kalam served as the Chief Project Coordinator, along with R. Chidambaram during the testing phase. Photos and snapshots of him taken by the media elevated Kalam as the country's top nuclear scientist.
- He had a brilliant and dominant personality and he was a man of vision, who always had novel ideas for the development of the country and is also popular as the Missile Man of India.
- He is a distinguished Indian astrophysicist and famous for his distinct views on several front-line astrophysics concepts, particularly black holes and Big Bang Cosmology. His research has received extensive attention, especially in India, which is reflected from the fact that he is one of the most frequently mentioned Indian physicists on the web.
- Mitra is associated with the `Himalayan Gamma Ray Observatory, being set up at Han Leh jointly by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Indian Institute of Astrophysics. He is also an Adjunct Prof. in Homi Bhabha National Science Institute since 2010. Dr Mitra is also a member of the International Astronomical Union.
- Srinivasa Ramanujan was a mathematician. He is extensively believed to be the greatest mathematician of the 20th Century. Srinivasa Ramanujan made a major contribution to the analytical theory of numbers and worked on elliptic functions, continued fractions, and infinite series. His published and unpublished works have kept some of the best mathematical brains in the world.
Har Gobind Khorana:
- Har Gobind Khorana was an American molecular biologist of Indian origin. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in the year 1968 for his work on the interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.
- Dr Khorana demonstrated how the genetic code determines all life processes by directing the synthesis of all cell proteins finally unravelled the secret of the DNA code of life. Dr Khorana received numerous awards and honours such as the Novel Prize for his achievement. Distinguished Service Award, Watumull Foundation, Honolulu, Hawaii, American academy of achievement awards, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Padma Vibhushan, Presidential Award, J C Bose Medal and Willard Gibbs medal of the Chicago section of American Chemical Society.
- He was also elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1971, he became a foreign member of the USSR Academy of Sciences and in 1974, an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Chemical Society.
- Harish Chandra was a renowned Indian American mathematician and physicist who contributed fundamental work in representation theory, especially harmonic analysis on semisimple Lie groups. He was an eminent figure in the mathematics of the twentieth century. His prestigious work related to algebra, analysis, geometry, and group theory in a fundamental and epoch-making manner consequently became the foundation on which modern work in various fields, ranging from differential geometry and mathematical physics to number theory, is being performed.
- He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Harish Chandra received many prestigious awards. He was honoured with the Cole Prize of the American Mathematical Society, in 1954. The Indian National Science Academy awarded him the Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal in 1974. In 1981, he received an honorary degree from Yale University. The Indian Government named the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, an institute devoted to Theoretical Physics and Mathematics.
- Dr Salim Ali had a passion to study birds in detail. He was popular as an Indian ornithologist and naturalist. He was referred to as the "birdman of India.
- He became the eminent figure behind the Bombay Natural History Society after 1947 and used his personal influence to reap government support for the organisation and to create the Bharatpur bird sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) and avert the destruction of the Silent Valley National Park. He published a research paper discussing the nature and activities of the weaver bird in 1930. The piece made him famous and established his name in the field of ornithology.
- R. Rao is acclaimed as a space scientist. He was a former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation. He has developed the first satellite launched by India, Aryabhatta. It is the name given to the satellite which was an indigenously designed space-worthy satellite that set up tracking and transmitting systems in the orbital sphere. U.R. Rao, the chairman of ISRO at the time was the man behind the launch in 1975 that put India on the world map in terms of space research.
Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha:
- He is considered as the originator of the Indian Nuclear Research Programme. India accomplished nuclear capability due to the extreme efforts of Homi, thereby avoiding certain conflicts simply through non-aggression treaties. This contribution of Bhabha augments the status of India on the world stage.
- He had a brilliant persona with multi-faceted qualities. He was fond of music, painting and writing. Some of his paintings are displayed in the British Art Galleries and the TIFR art collection today is rated as one of the best collections of contemporary Indian art in the country. He is the recipient of Adam’s Award, Padma Bhushan, an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.
- Dr Bhabha conceptualized the Indian nuclear program and initiated nuclear science research in India. His program has made possible the successful utilization of nuclear energy in defence, power generation, medicine and allied areas. Our peaceful use of nuclear energy has raised India's prestige as a mature and responsible player in this field.
Dr Koti Harinarayana:
- He was a renowned genius scientist. It is recognized that the brain behind India's first indigenously built combat aircraft. Tejas, which was the name given to the aircraft, saw its first flight in 2001. India’s first self-made light combat aircraft was built by HAL and developed by Dr Koti. It was a result of the weakening value of the country's soon to be obsolete Mig-21 fighter jets and, true to its name, made our defence sector's future a lot healthier.
Dada Bhai Naoroji:
- Naoroji was the first economic thinker who provided the pattern of economic thought for modern India. As he emphasized the material concept of wealth and the circulation of National income, we can say that he had been considerably influenced by the physiocrats school.
- He was the first economic thinker who provided the pattern of economic thought for modern India.
- He was the first Indian to occupy a seat in the parliament in England, and the first Indian to be a member of the Royal Commission.
- He calculated that the total income of British India was only Rs. 20 per head per annum but the cost of living was Rs.34 per head for the entire country
- According to him appalling poverty of the Indian people was due to the British rule under which heavy taxes were imposed on Indian people. It was a heavy drain on the resources of the country.
Dr Amartya Sen:
- Dr Amartya Kumar Sen bagged a Nobel in Economic Sciences in 1998. He was also awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1999. Some of his major studies in the world of economic philosophy include Development as Freedom and his book called Inequality Examined. Sen has endeavoured to understand the economic gap between the classes through a historic perspective and work towards resolving or bridging these in a contemporary context.
- Amartya Sen developed an index called the Sen index to estimate poverty. The statistical inference procedures are developed for Sen’s distribution-sensitive index of poverty and each of its components- the headcount ratio, income gap ratio and the Gini index of the poor.
- Despite having a busy academic career teaching at various universities across the globe, Sen has remained embroiled in a number of political debates.
Dr Raja Chelliah:
- The founder and Chairman of Madras School of Economics, Dr Raja Jesudoss Chelliah was one of the top economists this country has produced. Armed with a master’s degree in economics from the University of Madras and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, Chelliah went on to become one of the top consultants in public finance anywhere in the world.
- Having served in an advisory capacity with the government of Papa New Guinea and a number of other countries, Chelliah became the father of the direct taxation reforms in early India. He was honoured with the Padma Vibushan in 2007 and died in 2009.
Dr Manmohan Singh:
- Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is one of India’s leading economists and is known to have been the brain behind India’s socio-economic reforms and economic liberalisation. Having received his doctorate in economics from the University of Oxford, Singh served as the RBI governor and as the Chief Economic Adviser of the GoI before taking over as the Finance Minister in the P. V. Narasimha Rao government. Despite his great success as the Finance Minister and his reputation as a reform-oriented economist, Singh failed spectacularly in his role as India’s Prime Minister even as his government remained marred by various scams and highly corrupt practices.
Dr. V. K. R. V. Rao:
- Vijayendra Kasturi Ranga Varadaraja Rao was one of the most eminent economists and academicians this country has produced. Having been awarded a PhD in economics from the University of Cambridge in 1937, Rao went on to popularise the study of economics in India by setting up institutions such as the Delhi School of Economics. Apart from his numerous roles as the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University and the Director of the Institute of Economic Growth, Rao also became the Union Minister for Education in 1971. In 1974, he was awarded Padma Vibhushan for outstanding public service. Rao oversaw the construction of many important trade routes in southern India – roadways that breathed life into India’s nascent economy.
- He was the economic adviser to Prime Ministers from Jawaharlal Nehru to P.V. Narasimha Rao and set the pace of India’s economic growth story from the First Five-Year Plan.
- He drafted sections of India's first Five Year Plan, specifically the introductory chapter when he was only 26 years old. Raj was a companion of distinguished economists like Manmohan Singh, Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati.
- He computed India's Balance of Payments for the first time for the Reserve Bank of India.
- The architect of Indian economic planning, P.C Mahalanobis, is well-known. As a member of an independent India’s planning committee, he was instrumental in the drafting of a plan that would see India experience fast economic growth while also assisting in the eradication of the colonialists’ poverty.
- Role in Second Five Year Plan: P.C. Mahalanobis was also a key figure in the development of India’s second five-year plan (1956-1961), which laid the groundwork for the country’s industrialization and development. The heavy industries were emphasized in the Second FYP. It was written by a group of economists and planners led by P. C. Mahalanobis.
- Role in the National Sample Survey: Mahalanobis organized India’s statistical efforts by establishing the National Sample Survey and the Central Statistical Organization in 1950. From 1955 until 1967, he was a member of India’s Planning Commission.
Dr Varghese Kurien
- Coming from a generation which experienced an acute shortage of milk, it is unimaginable that, today, we have become the largest producer of milk in the world. The credit goes to the extraordinary vision of Dr Varghese Kurien, continued ably by Amrita Patel. In a nation where children are malnourished, such an abundance of milk has offered us the opportunity to fight malnutrition.
- R.D. Tata was that rare Indian capitalist who promoted technological innovation and generously funded initiatives in the arts. He took Indians to the sky. In 1932, he set up TATA airlines, the first Indian commercial carrier to transport mail and passengers within India. In 1946, TATA Airlines became Air India, the national carrier of India.
- Industrialist, philanthropist, and aviation pioneer, Tata founded India's first airline Air India. He is the founder of various institutes including Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Tata Memorial Hospital, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Motors, TCS, National Institute of Advanced Studies, and National Centre for the Performing Arts.
- Rahul Bajaj was the chairman of Bajaj Auto. He was born on June 30, 1938, in Kolkata. Rahul's grandfather Jamnalal Bajaj founded the Bajaj Group in 1926 and his father Kamalnayan Bajaj succeeded him in 1942.
- Rahul Bajaj built the firm in the 1970s and '80s. He grew the company's revenues to join the Billion-dollar club. It was through his initiative that Chetak and Bajaj Supermodels rose to prominence in the Indian market. The scooter went on to become a symbol of aspiration in pre-liberalisation India.
- A Padma Bhushan awardee, Rahul Bajaj was one of the longest-serving chairmen in corporate India.
Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy:
- Narayana Murthy was born in 1946, in Karnataka, India. He acquired a degree in Electrical Engineering from Mysore University and later studied Computer Science at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur.
- Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, age 75, is an Indian entrepreneur who co-founded IT giant Infosys (INFY) with an initial investment of 10,000 rupees, or just a few hundred dollars in today's terms.
- With a net worth of $3.6 billion, he is often referred to as the father of the Indian IT industry, serving as CEO of Infosys from 1981 until 2002, and then its chair until 2011. As of March 2022, Infosys has a market capitalization of around $104.7 billion.
- Under his leadership, Infosys became the first Indian company to be listed on the Nasdaq. It also became the first listed Indian company with revenue of $1 billion a year.
- Murthy has been listed among the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time by Fortune magazine. He has been described as the "father of the Indian IT sector" by Time magazine and CNBC for his contribution to outsourcing in India. Murthy has been honoured with the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri awards.
- Azim Premji, 76, is worth an estimated $9 billion and is the former chair of Wipro Industries (WIT), a diversified software and technology company that many have compared to Microsoft. Premji is sometimes referred to as India's Bill Gates as a result, alongside his informal title as "czar" of the Indian IT industry.
- In the 1980s, after the expulsion of IBM from India, recognized the importance of the IT industry and changed his company name to Wipro. He entered into IT industry and manufactured minicomputers under technological collaboration with an American company Sentinel Computer Corporation.
- Nagarajan Vittal is an Indian civil servant, who has held a number of senior positions in the Government of India, most prominently that of Central Vigilance Commissioner. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award, in 2012.
- He sowed the seeds of software exports by accelerating the Software Technology Parks (STP) scheme and redefined the behemoth called the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), shaking it out of its slumber so that every Indian could have a telephone number. In true gladiatorial style, he fought his own department and convinced politicians that a telephone connection is a fundamental right and should be available “on-demand” like any other utility. This is what the flagship and path-breaking National Telecom Policy (NTP) announced by the government of India theorized, full credit for letting which see the light of day, in 1994, should go to Vittal.
- The NTP was indeed the starting point of India’s IT revolution, which coincided with the equally path-breaking New Economic Policy (NEP) announced by the then finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The billion-dollar IT entities of today like Infosys, Wipro and TCS all happened because of the maturing of Indian telecommunications. The starting point was the NTP of 1994, powered by the visionary thinking of people like Vittal in those early days of Indian IT.
- N Vittal's Software Technology Program, along with the economic reforms of 1991, laid the foundation for this industry's spectacular progress. India's IT exports grew from a mere $150 million in 1991-92 to $31.4 billion in 2006-07, and are projected to reach $60 Billion by 2010.
Dr M.S. Swaminathan
- In the late 1960s, M.S. Swaminathan, a plant geneticist, helped design and lead the Green Revolution, a huge development effort that in just a few years brought food self-sufficiency to India, which had suffered from deadly famines for decades.
- Perhaps, no other Indian initiative has enhanced the national confidence as the Green Revolution initiated by Dr Swaminathan. This revolution, which started in 1965, not only transformed India into a food-surplus economy from a food-deficit economy but also triggered the expansion of the rural, non-farm economy.
- The lives of at least 400 to 500 million Indians have been uplifted due to this initiative. From being a perennial importer of grains, India became a net exporter of food grains ten years ago.
- Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda generally popular as Sam Pitroda is an eminent figure. He is best known as a telecom engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker. He ushered in an era of accessible telecommunications that included not only ISD and STD services, but also the setting up of the first PCOs in the country. He also set up Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).
- Pitroda founded the National Innovation Council (2010), and served as the Advisor to the Prime Minister with the rank of a cabinet minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, to help democratize information. Pitroda had played an immense role in developing India’s foreign and domestic telecommunications policies.
- He is considered as a well-known technical professional for the telecommunication revolution in India and specifically, the ubiquitous, yellow-signed public call offices (PCO) that quickly brought cheap and easy domestic and international public telephones all over the country.
Prof Yash Pal:
- Yash Pal was an Indian scientist, educator and educationist. He was known for his contributions to the study of cosmic rays, as well as for being an institution-builder. In his later years, he became one of the leading science communicators in the country.
- Prof Yash Pal's Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) blossomed into a full-scale television facility connecting millions of villages of India. The television medium has made our political masters realise that their actions and inactions will be seen and judged by every citizen - from the forgotten villages of Assam to the activist villages of Kerala.
- This technology has given voice to the opinions of a billion people - the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, and the powerful and the disfranchised. Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) blossomed into a full-scale television facility connecting millions of villages of India.
- The television medium has made our political masters realise that their actions and inactions will be seen and judged by every citizen - from the forgotten villages of Assam to the activist villages of Kerala. This technology has given voice to the opinions of a billion people - the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, and the powerful and the disfranchised.
Major Dhyan Chand (Hockey)
- Known as The Wizard, Major Dhyan Chand, a field hockey player, played international hockey from 1926 to 1949, scoring over 400 goals in his career.
- Dhyan Chand, born in Allahabad, was part of the Olympic team that won gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936.
- He inspired youth to become hockey players and because of the legacy of Dhyan Chand's three Olympic gold medals. Indians take pride in celebrating India's first Olympic gold as an independent nation at the 1948 London Games.
|On August 12 in 1948, 72 years ago, India defeated Great Britain at the Wembley Stadium in London for its fourth consecutive Olympic gold in hockey but the first as an independent nation. What made the success sweeter was that India defeated its former rulers, the Britishers, on their own soil.
- His birth anniversary is celebrated as National Sports Day in India.
- Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award which was earlier called Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is the highest sporting award given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years.
Mary Kom (Boxing)
- The words 'female boxer' is not taken very well in the country which still has reservations about working women. Mary punched the stereotypes and the results are there for everyone to see!
- Being a boxer in India is challenging enough, let alone a female boxer. Mary had to face a lot of adversities as an aspiring boxing professional but she overcame all of them. 'Magnificent Mary' is a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion, and the only female boxer to win a medal in each one of the six world championships. The Padma Bhushan winner is the first Indian woman boxer to clinch a gold medal in the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon.
PT Usha (Athletics)
- Fondly known as the "Golden Girl" as well as "Payyoli Express", P.T. Usha is amongst India's most successful athletes. The lady with alacrity has ruled the running track for almost two decades, adding numerous accolades to her name and becoming an inspiration for every girl all around the globe. She is also called the “Queen of Indian track and field.” A sporting legend, she inspired thousands of Indian women to take up sports as their career.
- Usha has blown various competitions away. She has won a total of 30 international awards and 13 gold medals at the Asian Games and Asian Championships through her supersonic speed. The journey that started in 1979, led this Indian girl to the peak of success, making her a living legend.
- T. Usha reached the peak of her success in the year 1985, earning five gold medals in 100m, 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay and a bronze medal in 4x100m relay at the Asian meet, held in Jakarta. At the Los Angeles Olympics, she was very close to clinching the bronze medal but failed to secure the same rank by 1/100th of a second which was a heart-breaking moment for her as well as for her admirers.
Sachin Tendulkar (Cricket)
- The most beloved sportsperson India has ever seen also goes by the name of ‘Little Master’. Although short in stature and soft-spoken, on the cricket pitch, Sachin Tendulkar was a force to be reckoned with. No other cricketer has held so many batting records as he has. Tendulkar has not only earned his fans’ adoration but also his colleagues’ respect. He stepped into the spotlight when he was just 16 years old and for millions of Indians, Tendulkar is not just a hero, he’s almost a messiah.
Viswanathan Anand (Chess)
- Viswanathan Anand, or Vishy, as he is known as, is not only India’s greatest chess player but he is also considered to be one of the very best in the world. He became India’s first chess grandmaster when he was barely 20 years old. In an intensely fought battle, the five-time World Champion lost his crown to Norwegian chess prodigy, Magnus Carlsen, in 2013. Anand is the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest sporting honour in India.
Sania Mirza (Tennis)
- Before Sania Mirza, there were a handful of famous male tennis players from India like Vijay Amritraj, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati. But no woman had ever made a name for herself in the sport until Mirza stepped onto the scene. She reached the world number one ranking in the women’s doubles category when she was paired alongside tennis great, Martina Hingis. Mirza has won numerous grand slam titles playing in the doubles and mixed-doubles categories and is one of the highest-paid sportswomen in India.
Saina Nehwal (Badminton)
- In 2015, Saina Nehwal became the only Indian female badminton player to have attained the world number one ranking. In fact, she is only the second Indian to have achieved this feat. Prakash Padukone was ranked number one back in 1980. She has won over 21 international titles and a bronze medal in the Olympics. Nehwal is responsible for popularizing the sport of badminton in the country.
Abhinav Bindra (Sport Shooting)
- Abhinav Bindra is the first Indian individual athlete to win a gold medal in the Olympic games. He won the 10 metre Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. India hadn’t won a gold medal since the men’s hockey team took first prize at the 1980 Olympics. Bindra is also a former World Shooting Champion and a gold medalist in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. His shooting career began early with Bindra becoming the youngest participant in the 1998 Commonwealth Games at just 15 years old.
Milkha Singh (Sprinter)
- Milkha Singh, also known as the ‘Flying Sikh’, is the most famous Indian sprinter and one of the first sporting icons of the country. Singh was the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games.
- He won the top prize in the 400-metre competition in 1958. Singh was separated from his family and orphaned during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. During his time, he had but little resources to support himself as a sportsman, which makes Singh’s achievements even more admirable.
- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads.
- There are four fundamental principles in Tagore's educational philosophy; naturalism, humanism, internationalism and idealism. Shantiniketan and Visva Bharathi are both based on these very principles. He insisted that education should be imparted in natural surroundings.
- He is said to have composed over 2000 songs and his songs and music are called ‘Rabindra Sangeet’ with its own distinct lyrical and fluid style.
- He is responsible for modernising Bengali prose and poetry. His notable works include Gitanjali, Ghare-Baire, Gora, Manasi, Balaka, and Sonar Tori, He is also remembered for his song ‘Ekla Chalo Re’.
- He published his first poems aged 16 under the pen-name ‘Bhanusimha’.
- He not only gave the national anthems for two countries, India and Bangladesh but also inspired a Ceylonese student of his, to pen and compose the national anthem of Sri Lanka.
- Besides all his literary achievements he was also a philosopher and educationist who in 1921 established the Vishwa-Bharati University, a university that challenged conventional education.
- Awards: In 1913 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work on Gitanjali. He was the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize. In 1915 he was awarded a knighthood by the British King George V. In 1919, following the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre, he renounced his Knighthood.
- She is known as the most prominent Punjabi poet who is loved both by Indians and Pakistanis. She lived a long life during which she produced over 100 books of poetry, fiction, biographies, as well as a collection of beautiful Punjabi folk songs. Her works have been translated into many Indian and foreign languages.
- Her book Pinjar (The Skeleton) was groundbreaking and ultimately got adapted into an award-winning movie in 2003. She has been often compared to Mohan Singh and Shiv Kumar Batlavi and was the most prominent voice for the liberation of women in Punjabi literature.
- Born in 1952 in Calcutta, Seth is a part novelist, part travel writer known mostly for his first novel “The Golden Gate” and the epic novel “A Suitable Boy”.
- The author was raised in London and graduated from Oxford, and Stanford where he studied economics.
- It took him a long time to get the attention of the public and some of his first volumes did not attract critical attention. The first book that conquered the hearts of readers was a humorous travelogue “From Heaven Lake.”
- His books are most often written in verse but his book of prose “A Suitable Boy”, which has 1349 pages, is often compared to the works of Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens.
- Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami is mostly known for his fiction works related to the South Indian town of Malgudi. He was a leading English language author in India along with Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao.
- It might come as a surprise, but he was a close friend of Graham Greene, who actually helped him to get publishers for his first books. The fictional town Malgudi was first introduced in his book “Swami and Friends”. The made-up town had a pristine historical record dating back to the times of Ramayana and Buddha.
- He loved to show the humour and of everyday life and has been often compared to William Faulkner. He wrote for over sixty years and lived to be 94.
- Roy is mostly known for her novel the “God of Small Things” for which she received a Man Booker Prize for fiction in 1997. This book became a huge bestseller and sold more copies than any other non-expatriate Indian novel. Her novel “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” also won many awards and found its way to the Man Booker Prize 2017 longlist.
- She’s also a political activist and a fighter for environmental causes. She’s a polarizing figure in India, known for her scathing comments about Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister.
- Roy was featured in Time’s 100 most influential people in the world list in 2014.
- He was a journalist, editor and novelist born in Hadli during the time of British India. He received his degree at St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi and King’s College in London. He initially started his career as a lawyer after which he got the opportunity to become the editor of important journals and magazines.
- As an author he wrote some outstanding novels like Train to Pakistan (1956), Delhi: A Novel (1990), The Company of Women (1999), Truth, Love and a Little Malice (2002), The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous (2013).
- Bond was born in Punjab, British Indian and attained his education in Shimla and after completion of high school, he moved to the U.K to enhance his writing career. He started his career as a freelance writer and eventually got jobs as an editor in various magazines. It wasn’t until 1980 that his novel was published which became widely admired amongst readers. His best-known work is ‘The blue umbrella’, a heart-warming story read worldwide.
- Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (1870-1944), popularly known as Dadasaheb Phalke, is regarded as the ‘Father of the Indian Cinema’. He made India’s first indigenous feature film Raja Harishchandra in 1912. His next film was Mohini Bhasmasur (1914), which was followed by Savitri Satyavan (1914) and Lanka Dahan (1917).
- Phalke produced several comedies (Pithache Panje, Soulagna Rasa, Animated Coins, Vichitra Shilpa), topicals (Sinhasta Parvani, Kartiki Purnima Festival, Ganesh Utsava) and documentaries (Bird’s Eye-view of Bodh Gaya, Rock-cut Temples of Ellora). Phalke also made a short film on film-making called How Films are Prepared in 1917.
- As an acknowledgement of his great contribution to Indian cinema, the Government of India introduced 1960 the Dadasaheb Phalke award, the highest award in the film industry.
- Often dubbed as the greatest filmmaker in the history of India, Satyajit Ray was born in Calcutta. He was known for being a major forerunner of parallel cinema in the country. However, Ray began his career in commercial cinema.
- It was only after meeting French director Jean Renoir that he was drawn toward making independent movies. It is also worth mentioning that Ray was a man of many talents. He wasn’t just a gifted filmmaker; he was also a renowned writer and had written several novels and short stories. He was a graphic designer, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, and film critic.
- Over the years, Satyajit Ray delivered many unforgettable movies, but he is best known for his Apu Trilogy and Charulata. In his expansive career, Ray won the National Award a whopping 32 times.
- Another pillar of parallel cinema in Bengali alongside Ray and Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak was also a screenwriter and playwright. His cinema often meticulously depicted the social realities of the time, the aftermath of partition, and For a short time, he moved to Pune, where he taught at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), and was briefly the teacher of Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
- Ghatak was extremely innovative, even though he did not receive as much critical acclaim as his colleague, Satyajit Ray. Ghatak’s Nagarik was the first example of a Bengali art film, and despite being completed by 1952, was only released in 1977 after Ghatak’s death. His Ajantrik was one of the first Indian films to portray an inanimate object. His Titash Ekti Nadir Naam was one of the earliest movies told in a multilinear narrative structure or a Hyperlink format.
- Born in Dhaka, present-day Bangladesh, Bimal Roy is remembered as one of the best Indian directors of all time. He was best known for his realistic, socialist films such as Do Bigha Zameen, which he made after being inspired by Italian neo-realistic cinema. Unlike some other directors on the list, Bimal Roy did not limit himself to one genre. He worked on parallel films as well as mainstream cinema.
- Of his commercial movies, his best-remembered work would be Madhumati, which he made in collaboration with Ritwik Ghatak. Bimal Roy is remembered today for the films mentioned above, as well as other notable works such as Devdas, Parineeta, and Bandini.
- Born in Lahore, Shekhar Kapur is considered one of the finest Indian directors to be working in the industry today. Not just in Indian films, Kapur has also directed several international movies, such as Elizabeth, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the second of which also won an Academy Award. Kapur received worldwide recognition for his movie Bandit Queen, a biopic based on Phoolan Devi.
- Known as one of the best off-beat directors of Hindi cinema, Shyam Benegal, with his first four feature films was part of a new genre called middle cinema, but he prefers the term “New cinema.” Benegal has received several awards over the several decades he has worked in the industry, including the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, and a total of eight National Awards. His best-remembered works are Ankur, Manthan, Bhumika, Nishant, Kalyug, and Mandi.
- Deepa Mehta is an internationally acclaimed Indian filmmaker, who shot to fame with her controversial film Fire, based on the subject of lesbianism. Her film Earth 1947, which is based on Bapsi Sidhwa’s novel Ice Candy Man, has won seven awards at the Melbourne film festival. The last of her Trilogy, Water, which is based on the life of Hindu widows in the 1930s, proved to be another controversy, with people accusing her of hurting their religious sentiments.
- Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is a world-renowned exponent of the bansuri or bamboo flute. He is one of those rare classical musicians who expanded the peripheries of classical music by taking it to the common masses.
- MS Subbulakshmi was a legendary Carnatic musician. She was popularly known as the Nightingale of India. Her rendering of bhajans (devotional songs) was divine and used to enthral and transfix listeners and transport them into a different world.
- Ravi Shankar is a legendary sitar player and one of India's most esteemed classical musicians. Pandit Ravi Shankar has made a major contribution in popularizing Indian classical music in the West through his association with The Beatles (especially George Harrison).
- The pre-eminent classical Tabla virtuoso of our time, Zakir Hussain is appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon and one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians.
- Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Zakir’s contribution has been unique, with many historic and ground-breaking collaborations, including Shakti, Remember Shakti, Masters of Percussion, Planet Drum and Global Drum Project with Mickey Hart, Tabla Beat Science, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, Crosscurrents with Dave Holland and Chris Potter, in trio with Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer, and, most recently, with Herbie Hancock.
Shiv Kumar Sharma
- Shiv Kumar Sharma's name is synonymous with the santoor, an Indian classical music instrument. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma is credited with single-handedly making the santoor a popular classical instrument.
- Until about sixty or seventy years ago, the santoor was hardly known to anyone connected with Indian classical music, even though musicologists trace its origin to centuries ago when a string instrument called the &am