Famous Indian nuclear physicist Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born on 30 October 1909 in Mumbai. Bhabha played a key role in the development of the Indian atomic energy program. Widely referred to as the father of India’s nuclear weapons program, Bhabha had his education at the Elphinstone College and the Royal Institute of Science before obtaining his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1934.
He was influenced greatly by the legendary Paul Dirac. Bhabha was a research scientist at the Cavendish Laboratories at Cambridge. When he was stranded in India as a result of the Second World War, he set up the Cosmic Ray Research Unit at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore under Nobel Laureate C. V. Raman in 1939. Dr. Bhabha is credited with establishing the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research(TIFR) with the help of eminent industrialist J. R. D. Tata.
After India won independence from the British, Bhabha established the Atomic Energy Commission of India in 1948. He represented India in various international forums including the United Nations and his tenure represented a high in terms of the progress of India’s atomic energy programme. The climax of this programme came on May 18, 1974 when India exploded a nuclear device at Pokhran, Rajasthan joining a select club of nations.
Ratan Tata is one of the most well-known and respected Indian businessman. He served as the Chairman of the Tata Group from 1991 till 2012. As a Mumbaibased conglomerate, he is also a member of the prominent Tata family of Indian industrialists and philanthropists. Ratan Tata was born on December 28, 1937 in Mumbai. When he was a child his parents separated and he was brought up by his grandmother Lady Navajbai.
He went to Campion School in Bombay, Bishop Cotton School in Shimla and finished his schooling from Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai. He graduated with a degree in Architecture and Structural Engineering from Cornell University in 1962 and also did the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975. He is also a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity of Yale University, United States. In 1962, Ratan Tata began his career in the Tata group.
At first he used to work on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shoveling limestone and handling blast furnace. In 1991, JRD Tata stepped down as the chairman of Tata Industries and named Ratan Tata as his successor. Under Ratan’s stewardship, Tata Tea attained Tetley, Tata motors attained Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Steel attained Corus. These triumphs turned Tata from a large India-centric company into a global business with 65% revenues from abroad. He also contributed in the development of Indica and Nano.
Ratan Tata has also served in various organizations in India and abroad. He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry and he is also on the board of governors of the East-West Center, which is the advisory board of RAND’s Center for Asia Pacific Policy. He also serves on the program board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s India AIDS initiative. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in January 2000.
He serves on the boards of several leading organizations, both in the public as well as the private sector in India. He is a member of the International Investment Council set up by the President of South Africa and serves on the programme board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s India AIDS initiative. Ratan Tata is credited for leading Tatas’ successful bid for Corus, an Anglo-Dutch steel and aluminum producer, which was acquired for an estimated £6.7 billion by Tata Sons.
N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys Technologies is one of the most famous personalities in India’s I-T sector. Born on August 20, 1946, he obtained a degree in electrical engineering from the National Institute of Engineering under University of Mysore in 1967 and went on to do his Masters from IIT Kanpur in 1969. He joined Patni Computer Systems in Pune. While at Pune, he met his wife Sudha Murty.
In 1981, he founded Infosys alongwith with six otherpeople. He served as president of the National Association of Software and Service Companies, India from 1992 to 1994. Murthy was the CEO of Infosys for twenty years, and was succeeded by Nandan Nilekani in March 2002. He functioned as the Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Mentor from 2002 to 2006.
Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani was born on 28 December 1932, at Chorwad, Junagadh in Gujarat, When he was 16 years old, he moved to Aden,Yemen. Initially, Dhirubhai worked as a dispatch clerk with A. Besse & Co. Married to Kokilaben. Dhirubhai also worked in Dubai for sometime. He returned to India and founded the Reliance Commercial Corporation with an initial capital of Rs 15000.
Dhirubhai set up the business in partnership with Champaklal Damani from whom he parted ways in 1965. Dhirubhai started his first textile mill at Naroda, near Ahmedabad in 1966 and started the brand “Vimal”. Dhirubhai Ambani is credited with having started the equity cult in India.With the passage of time, Dhirubhai diversified into petrochemicals and sectors like telecommunications, information technology, energy, power, retail, textiles, infrastructure services, capital markets, and logistics.
Lakshmi Nivas Mittal
Lakshmi Nivas Mittal was born on June 15, 1950 in Sadulpur, Rajasthan, India and is presently the CEO & Chairman of Arcelor Mittal. Lakshmi Nivas Mittal was listed in the Forbes List of Billionaires in 2006 as the the richest Indian and the fifth richest man in the world with an estimated wealth around of $25.0 billion and is the richest man in the United Kingdom. Young Lakshmi Nivas Mittal spent his first years in Sadulpur, before his father moved to Kolkata. Lakshmi graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta. He founded Mittal Steel in 1976, which soon became a global steel producer with operations on 14 countries. His success mantra lies in the identification, acquisition and turnaround of many loss making steel companies all across the world.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, graduated in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1958 and joined the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). In 1962, Kalam joined the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). In 1982, he rejoined DRDO as the Chief Executive of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). Dr. Kalam is credited with the development and operationalization of India’s Agni and Prithvi missiles.
He worked as the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Secretary, Department of Defence Research & Development from 1992 to 1999. During this period, the Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted. Dr. Kalam held the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India from November 1999 to November 2001. Dr. Kalam has received a host of awards both in India and abroad. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1981, Padma Vibhushan 1990 and the Bharat Ratna in 1997.
He is of the view that we should work wholeheartedly to make India a developed nation by 2020. Besides being a bachelor, Kalam is a strict disciplinarian, a complete vegetarian and teetotaler. Among the many firsts to his credit, he became India’s first President to undertake an undersea journey when he boarded the INS Sindhurakshak, a submarine, from Visakhapatnam. He also became the first president to undertake a sortie in a fighter aircraft, a Sukhoi-30 MKI.
One of the most prominent novelists and journalists of India, Khushwant Singh was born on 2 February 1915 in Hadali, presently in Pakistan. He writes a weekly column, “With Malice towards One and All”, published in several leading newspapers all over the country. He graduated from Government College, Lahore before studying law at King’s College, London. He has been the editor of Yojana, The Illustrated Weekly of India, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times.
He also served as a member of the Rajya Sabha. Though he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974, he returned it in 1984 to protest the siege of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2007. Some of his notable works include: The Sikhs; Train to Pakistan; The Sikhs Today; Ranjit Singh: The Maharajah of the Punjab; Delhi: A Novel; Sex, Scotch and Scholarship: Selected Writings; Not a Nice Man to Know: The Best of Khushwant Singh; Paradise and Other Stories; Death at My Doorstep; The Illustrated History of the Sikhs etc.
Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen was born on 3 November 1933 in Santiniketan, West Bengal. Besides being a worldrenowned economist, Amartya Sen is also a philosopher. He served as a Master at the Trinity College at Cambridge University, the first Asian academic to head an Oxbridge college. Currently the Lamont University Professor at Harvard University, Amartya Sen traces his roots to an illustrious lineage. His father, Ashutosh Sen, taught chemistry at the Dhaka University.
Amartya completed his high-school education from Dhaka in Bangladesh in 1941. After his family migrated to India in 1947, Sen studied at the Presidency College, Kolkata and at the Delhi School of Economics before moving over to the United Kingdom to complete his higher studies. He earned his doctorate from the Trinity College, Cambridge in 1959. He has taught at various reputed Universities including the University of Calcutta, Jadavpur University, Oxford, London School of Economics, Harvard and many others. His works helped to develop the theory of social choice.
In 1981, he published his famous work Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, where he showed that famine occurs not only due to shortage of food, but from inequalities in the mechanisms for distributing food. He had personally witnessed the Bengal famine of 1943. He has done valuable work in the field of development economics, which has had a tremendous influence on the formulation of the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report.
Sabeer Bhatia-co-founder of Hotmail, is one among select group of people who have made it big in America’s Silicon Valley. Born in Chandigarh, Sabeer Bhatia did his schooling from St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School, Bangalore. He graduated from Caltech and went to Stanford to pursue his MS in Electrical Engineering. Sabeer attended many lectures by famous like Steve Jobs and was determined to make it big. After completing his Masters, he joined Apple computers. He left Apple soon after.
He teamed up with his partner to create a web-based e-mail system Microsoft bought Hotmail on December 30th, 1997, for a reported sum of $400M. After the success of Hotmail, Bhatia in April 1999, he started another venture, Arzoo Inc, which however had to be shut down. In 2006, Arzoo was relaunched. Bhatia has won many awards. Among the notable ones include the “Entrepreneur of the Year” awarded by the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson in 1997, the “TR100” award, presented by MIT to 100 young innovators expected to have the greatest impact on technology in the next few years. Besides, he was named by TIME magazine as one of the “People to Watch” in International Business in 2002.
Indra Nooyi is the president and chief executive officer of PepsiCo and is the highest-ranking Indian-born woman in corporate America. She helped to start PepsiCo’s fast-food chains in 1997. After a Bachelor’s degree from Madras Christian College and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from the Indian Institute of Management Kolkata, she moved on to the Yale School of Management.
She started her career with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), moving on to companies like Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri.She serves on the board of directors of several organizations. In August 2006, she succeeded Steve Reinemund as chief executive officer of PepsiCo. She has been named the Most Powerful Woman in Business in 2006 by Fortune Magazine. Her name was included in the Wall Street Journal’s list of 50 women to watch in 2005.
The first woman to join the coveted Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1972, Kiran Bedi was born on 9 June 1949 in Amritsar, Punjab. Recently appointed as Director General of India’s Bureau of Police Research and Development, Kiran Bedi has had an illustrious career, earning widespread adulation for her no-nonsense attitude and devotion to work. She served as Police Advisor in the United Nations peacekeeping department and was honored with the UN medal for outstanding service. She earned the nickname ‘Crane Bedi’ for towing away the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi’s car for parking violation.
Kiran Bedi graduated in English before securing a Master’s degree in Political Science from Punjab University, Chandigarh. This gutsy police officer went on to secure an LL.B degree in 1988 from Delhi University and a Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, even while she was in service. She was good at sports too, having been an all- India and all-Asian tennis champion.
She has served creditably in a host of appointments ranging from Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mizoram, Advisor to the Lieutanent Governor of Chandigarh, Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau and many others.
The first Indian to fly into space, Rakesh Sharma was born on January 13, 1949 in Patiala, Punjab. He was a squadron leader with the Indian Air Force, when he flew into space in 1984 as part of a joint programme between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Soviet Intercosmos space program.
He spent eight days in space on board the Salyut 7 space station. He joined two other Soviet cosmonauts aboard the Soyuz T- 11 spacecraft which blasted off on April 2, 1984. He was awarded the Hero of Soviet Union award on his return from space. The Government of India honoured him with the Ashok Chakra. He retired with the rank of Wing Commander. He joined the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in 1987 and served as Chief Test Pilot in the HAL Nashik Division until 1992, before moving on to Bangalore to work as the Chief Test Pilot of HAL. He retired from test flying in 2001.
Dr. Verghese Kurien
The “father of the white revolution” in India, Dr. Verghese Kurien is acknowledged worldwide as the brain behind the success of the largest dairy development programme in the world by the name of Operation Flood. Also known as the “Milkman of India”, he was the chairman of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) and his name became synonymous with the Amul brand. Born on November 26, 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, he graduated in Physics from Loyola College, Madras in 1940 and pursued a B.E.(Mechanical) course from the Madras University. He was instrumental in the success story of AMUL.