Often called Panditji, Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of independent India. He remained in office till his death in 1964. Under the guidance of Bapu, Pandit Nehru rose to be not only one of the tallest leaders of India but a great statesman too. Nehru introduced the five-year plans for revival of India’s economic, social and political status. He is credited for transforming India into a republic and building a multi-party democracy. He also took a leading role in Non-Alignment movement while projecting India as a major regional player in South Asia.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel
Sardar Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel also popularly known as ‘Sardar’ was one of the few personalities who was not only involved in India’s freedom struggle, but also contributed to shape the future of Independent India. Sardar was the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of independent India. He is credited of consolidating 565 semi-autonomous princely states, which ultimately led to the formation of the Indian union. He was given the title of ‘Iron Man’ for managing such a huge task and making the almost impossible task with his great wisdom.
In fact, after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi was the most recognised leader internationally. In a way, the present Congress party is built on her ideology (after all her slogan “Garibi Hatao” is still used by Congressmen to garner votes).
Indira Gandhi participated in the independence struggle, perhaps by default because of her father. But later she purposefully involved herself in nation building, and guided India during the 1971 war with Pakistan, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. And who can forget the manner in which she stood up to the belligerence of America.
After acting as Minister of Information and Broadcasting (1964-66), Indira Gandhi became the prime minister of India from 1966-1977 and again during 1980-84. And it was during this time that agricultural growth gained a major impetus, heralding the famed ‘Green Revolution’.
Indira’s misjudged moves in Punjab to break the Akali dominance (so that Congress could gain a foothold backfired) and led to one of the saddest decades of the state, when violence and bloodshed reigned supreme. Later, on October 31, 1984, on the unfateful day, Indira Gandhi`s Sikh bodyguards assassinated her to avenge the Operation Blue Star.
APJ Abdul Kalam
Born on 15th October 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, specialised in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. He was responsible for the evolution of ISRO`s launch vehicle programme, particularly the PSLV configuration. After working for two decades in ISRO and mastering launch vehicle technologies, Dr Kalam took up the responsibility of developing Indigenous Guided Missiles at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as the Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). He was responsible for the development and operationalisation of Agni and Prithvi missiles and for building indigenous capability in critical technologies through networking of multiple institutions.
He was the Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from July 1992 to December 1999. During this period he led to the weaponisation of strategic missile systems and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in collaboration with Department of Atomic Energy, which made India a nuclear weapon State. Dr Kalam became the 11th President of India on 25th July 2002. He is pledged to transforming India into a developed nation by 2020.
Mother Teresa, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta), India in 1950. For over forty years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity`s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.
Numerous awards were bestowed on her beginning with Padma Shri award in 1962. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and India`s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980 for her humanitarian work.
She died on 5 September 1997. At the time of her death, Mother Teresa`s Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters (nuns), and an associated brotherhood of 300 members, operating 610 missions in 123 countries, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children`s and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools.
Satyajit Ray is considered as the master of modern Indian cinema. He was not only a director but a producer, screenwriter, composer, writer as well as a graphic designer.
He was very popular among the world film fraternity. Great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa once said, "To have not seen the films of Ray is to have lived in the world without ever having seen the moon and the sun."
The ace director’s films were a mix up of relationships, emotions, struggles, conflicts, joys and sorrows. His first film Pather Panchali won him an award at the Cannes Film Festival. The first film of a trilogy - The Apu Trilogy and the other two films of trilogy - Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956) and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959) also brought him laurels globally.
He won a special lifetime achievement award at the 1992 Academy Awards. He`s the second Indian to have won an Oscar.
The Government of India honoured the legendary director with the Bharat Ratna in 1992.
Amitabh Bachchan -- also as the ‘Shahenshah’ of Bollywood has 180 films to his credit, with most of them creating history at the box office. The most versatile, popular and influential actor of the Indian film industry, Bachchan has been bestowed with the Padma Shri in 1984 and the Padma Bhushan in 2001 for his contributions towards the arts.
Lovingly called ‘Big B’, Amitabh got the greatest recognition when he was chosen as the ‘Superstar of the Millennium’. He is also the first Bollywood star to be immortalised at the Madam Tussaud`s Wax Museum at London.
Lata Mangeshkar – ‘The nightingale of India’ is considered the supreme leader of playback singers in this country. Back in 1991, the Guinness Book of Records listed her as the most recorded artist in the world. In her decades long career she has lent her voice to all types of songs, including ghazals, bhajans and has been the favourite of celebrated director, Yash Chopra and the Oscar-winning music director, AR Rahman.
Cricketer Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, is widely considered as the greatest batsman in the world today. Sachin who has amassed numerous awards and records in his mammoth career, has been bestowed with the Padma Vibhushan and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. He is the only player in the world to score 100 international centuries.
Tendulkar started his international career when he was just 16 and went to become the only batsman in the history of world cricket to score maximum number of runs in both forms of the game.
Sachin, who retired from one-day cricket last year has amassed 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs at an average of 44.83. The batting maestro has an astonishing 49 hundreds in the format, including a double hundred — the first in this form of the game. However, the master blaster still continues to play the Test format and entertain billions of cricket fans across the globe.
Ratan N Tata was the chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group, from 1991 till his retirement on December 28, 2012. He was also chairman of the major Tata companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels and Tata Teleservices. During his tenure, the group’s revenues grew manifold, totalling over USD 100 billion in 2011-12.
The Government of India honoured Mr Tata with its second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2008. He has also received honorary doctorates from several universities in India and overseas.
Narayana Murthy is the executive chairman of Infosys Limited, a global software consulting company headquartered in Bangalore, India. He is credited for creating the biggest IT empire in India that has brought India on the world IT map. Murthy founded Infosys in 1981 along with six software professionals, and served as the CEO during 1981-2002, as the chairman and chief mentor during 1981-2011, and as the Chairman Emeritus during August 2011-May 2013. Under his leadership, Infosys was listed on the NASDAQ in 1999.
Murthy was listed as one among the “12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time” listed by the Fortune magazine in 2012. The Economist ranked him among the ten most-admired global business leaders in 2005. He has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India, the Legion d’honneur by the Government of France, and the CBE by the British government. He is the first Indian winner of Ernst and Young’s World Entrepreneur of the year award and the Max Schmidheiny Liberty prize.
By Biplob Bghosal
Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as ‘Babasaheb’ is the man behind the drafting and formation of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar was the main inspiration behind the inclusion of special provision in the Constitution of India for the development of Schedule Caste people.
DR Ambedkar joined Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet in 1947 and was appointed as the first Law Minister of Independent India. The Constituent Assembly assigned the job of drafting the Constitution to a committee and he was elected as Chairman of this Committee. Ambedkar introduced the Draft Constitution in 1948. Draft Constitution was approved on November 26, 1949. He was posthumously awarded `Bharat Ratna` in the year 1990.
Dr Ambedkar always emphasised on imparting education to all. He once said, "We may forgo material benefits of civilization, but we cannot forgo our right and opportunity to reap the benefits of the highest education to the fullest extent.........."
Sam Manekshaw also known as ‘Sam Bahadur’ was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. Manekshaw began his military career with the British Indian Army in World War II. Field Marshal Manekshaw became the Chief of Staff of the Indian Army in 1969 and under his command, Indian forces achieved a splendid victory in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 that led to the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971.
He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1968 and Padma Vibhushan in 1972. In recognition of his service to the nation, he was created as the first "Field Marshal" in independent India on 1st January 1973.
Manekshaw died at the age of 94 died due to complications from pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu.
Father of the Green Revolution in India, MS Swaminathan, was the person who transformed Indian agricultural scenario in 1960`s, catapulting India from being completely dependent on foreign food grains to a self-sufficient nation.
Professor Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan is known for his leadership and success and credited with introducing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India in 1960s and 1970s.
His contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have led to his being widely referred to as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement. His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to an ever-green revolution makes him an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security.
Mr Swaminathan was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1971, the Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986, and the first World Food Prize in 1987. He has also been acclaimed by the TIME magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India, the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.
Javier Perez de Cuellar, former secretary general of the United Nations, once described Professor Swaminathan as “a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction”.
Verghese Kurien is known as the architect of `white revolution`, who led `Operation Flood` to transform India from a milk-deficient country to the world`s biggest milk producer, is credited with laying the foundation of the nation`s co-operative dairy model.
He made the ordinary, neighbourhood `doodhwala` (milkman) a key player in the country`s struggle for economic development and progress at the grassroot level.
Honoured as the architect of India`s white revolution, which catapulted India to be the world`s largest milk producer, Kurien managed the feat in the 1970s at a time when it faced grim uncertainties over its food security.
Born on November 26, 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, Kurien - who was destined to become India`s top `milkman` - graduated from Loyola College in 1940 and later completed his engineering from Guindy College of Engineering, Chennai.
The Dairy co-operative movement had a modest beginning with the first Dairy Co-operative Union in Gujarat formed in 1942 with only two village co-operatives joining as members.
Kurien joined Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers` Union Limited in 1949, on the request of Tribhuvandas Patel, the then dairy chairman. The dairy was formed at the initiative of Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel. Later, Patel asked Kurien to help set up a dairy processing plant, which saw the birth of Amul.
Amul`s co-operative model became a success and it was replicated throughout Gujarat.
Around 65 years later that figure has grown to a staggering 16,100 with 3.20 million milk producers pouring millions of tonnes of milk into the GCMMF containers twice daily.
Interestingly, the `milkman of India` did not consume milk himself. He used to say, `I do not drink milk, as I don`t like it.`