An Indian lawyer and anti-colonial nationalist, Mahatma Gandhi was a major figure in India’s fight for independence from British rule. He is renowned for his employment of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience methods. Despite his popularity, he had numerous detractors as well and was assassinated in 1948. He is widely considered the Father of the Nation in India.
Counted amongst world’s best batsmen, Virat Kohli is the former captain of Indian national cricket team. Under his captaincy, Indian cricket rose to great heights and he is the most successful Indian Test captain till date. He shot to fame when he led India’s Under-19 team to victory at the 2008 Under-19 World Cup. Since then, Virat Kohli has proved his talent in all forms of the game.
Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. An alumnus of IIT, Stanford and Wharton, Pichai has come a long way, from innovating Google’s products such as Chrome, Google Drive and Google Apps to leading the software giant and being one of the most sought-after names in the tech industry.
An Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and a missionary, Mother Teresa was the founder of Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation. She was both an admired and controversial figure and was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. While she was admired by many for her charitable work, she also earned criticism for her stance against abortion and contraception.
India's first Minister of Law and Justice, B. R. Ambedkar inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement. He also fought against social discrimination prevalent in India at that time. Widely regarded as the chief architect of the Constitution of India, Ambedkar was posthumously honored with India's highest civilian award - The Bharat Ratna.
Referred to as King of Bollywood and King Khan in the media, Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan is considered one of the most successful film stars of the Hindi film indusrty. Beginning his career as a TV actor, he struggled for many years before making it big as a Hindi film star.
The Winner of Miss World 2000; a successful actress in Hindi films; the owner of production house that promotes regional Indian cinema and the first Indian actor to play the lead character in an American television show – Priyanka Chopra’s list of achievements is long. The popular star is also a singer, a tech investor and the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Former Indian international cricketer M. S. Dhoni captained the Indian national team from 2007 to 2016. He played as a right-handed middle-order batsman and wicket-keeper. With more than 10,000 runs scored, he is one of the highest run-scorers in One Day Internationals (ODIs). He also became the first wicket-keeper to effect 100 stumpings in ODI cricket.
A self-taught genius Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan is known for his contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory and continued fractions. Born into a humble family, the celebrated mathematician struggled with poverty but still managed to publish first of his papers in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society. Later, his collaboration with English mathematician G. H. Hardy proved very productive.
Often referred to as the God of Cricket in India, Sachin Tendulkar is a retired cricketer. Also known for his humility on and off the field, Sachin is one of the most revered, celebrated, and decorated cricketers. Considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time, Sachin Tendulkar played a key role in turning India into a cricket-frenzy nation.
The 14th PM of India, Narendra Modi, created history when he became the first prime minister outside of the Congress party to win two consecutive terms with a full majority; he achieved this feat in 2019. From Bharatiya Janata Party worker to India’s PM, Modi’s journey is remarkable. However, he’s been plagued by controversies too, including the handling of 2002 Gujarat riots.
Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian polymath who contributed greatly to the fields of literature, art, and philosophy. Referred to as the Bard of Bengal, Tagore is credited with reshaping Bengali literature and music. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore is also credited with composing the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.
Bhagat Singh is one of the most revered freedom fighters of Indian Independence movement. His execution by the British rulers at a young age of 23 inspired many young people to join the freedom struggle. His life’s mission was to free India from colonial rule and his legacy as a symbol of bravery and patriotism continues to live on.
The richest person in Asia, Mukesh Ambani is an Indian billionaire business magnate. He is the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL). The son legendary Dhirubhai Ambani, he started his career by helping his father build their family business. As of today, he is the only Indian businessman on Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people.
The third Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi served as PM from 1966 till 1977 and then again from 1980 till her assassination in October 1984. She is considered one of India’s strongest PM and is hailed for leading India to victory over Pakistan in 1971, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. However, she is also categorised as authoritarian and is criticised for imposing Emergency in 1975.
Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth had humble beginnings and had even worked as a coolie and a bus conductor in his younger days. Starting his career with minor plays, he had phenomenal success in Tamil movies and grew up to be one of India’s greatest superstars, earning the nickname Thalaiva.
An Indian nationalist known for his role in the country’s struggle for freedom from the British, Subhas Chandra Bose was a politician with radical views. He was part of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s. However, his association with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan made him a controversial figure.
Ratan Tata is a well-known Indian industrialist and the former charman of Indian multinational conglomerate Tata Sons. His reign as chairman was marked by acquisitions of iconic global brands, such as Tetley, Jaguar Land Rover and Corus by the Tata Group. Ratan Tata was instrumental in turning Tata Group from a largely India-centrist group into a global business.
Shivaji was an Indian warrior-king. He is credited with founding the Maratha Empire, which became a force to reckon with during the 18th century. He is also credited with creating his own navy. Considered one of the most important Indian kings and a hero of the Hindus, Shivaji's life and work have inspired several works of art, including films.
Hrithik Roshan is one of the most popular and highest-paid Indian actors. Also known for his dancing skills, Hrithik has established himself as a style icon and sex symbol over the years. One of the most bankable Indian stars, he started his career with romantic films, eventually finding success as an action hero.
Akbar, the third Mughal emperor, played an important role in inculcating Persian culture into the Indian subcontinent. Akbar is considered one of the most important rulers of the Mughal Empire, an empire that seeped foreign ideas and culture into medieval India, the effects of which are still visible in modern-day India, especially in the northern parts of the country.
Indian right-handed batsman Rohit Sharma is also the vice-captain in the limited-overs format. One of the few cricketers to score a century in all three formats, he is also the first player with two ODI double centuries. He is WWF-India’a Rhino Ambassador and works for PETA’s campaigns for street animals.
P. V. Sindhu is an Indian badminton player. In 2016, she won the Olympic silver medal in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first Indian woman to receive an Olympic silver. Sindhu became a national icon following her performance in the 2016 Olympics. In January 2020, she was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award.
Deepika Padukone is one of the highest-paid Indian actresses. She is also known for her off-screen work, which involves supporting charitable organizations. She founded The Live Love Laugh Foundation, which aims at creating awareness on mental health. In 2018, she was named in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world.
Remembered for her heroics against the British, the Indian Joan of Arc Rani Lakshmibai remains an icon of the 1857 Indian Rebellion. The wife of Maharaja Gangadhar Rao, she is known for leading the fight against the British after her husband’s death. She also inspired the legendary lines Khoob Ladi Mardani.
A. R. Rahman is an Indian film composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Rahman is one of the most decorated and celebrated musicians in Indian history. He was won several prestigious awards including two Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award. In 2009, he was named among the 100 most influential people in Time.
Considered one of India’s most influential and best actors of all time, Aamir Khan is known for his interesting choice of films, which are well-crafted, entertaining and commercially successful. They mostly have a social message and are appreciated both by critics and the people. Sarfarosh, Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, 3 Idiots, PK and Dangal are some of his acclaimed films.
Akshay Kumar is one of the most popular and successful actors of Hindi cinema. He has been honored with several prestigious awards, such as Filmfare Awards, a National Film Award, and Padma Shri. Dubbed Indian Jackie Chan, Akshay Kumar is renowned for performing dangerous stunts in films.
Indian actress Aishwarya Rai is one of the most popular and influential celebrities in the country. She began her career as a model and was crowned the Miss World 1994. She started acting soon after and became one of India’s top actresses. Besides acting, she is a Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS).
Atal Bihari Vajpayee served as the 10th Prime Minister of India and was the first prime minister who did not belong to the Indian National Congress. The BJP politician had been a journalist and an RSS member. He was a noted poet, too. During his tenure as prime minister, he carried out Pokhran II nuclear tests in 1998 and declared India as a country with nuclear weapons capability.
An impressive doubles tennis player, Sania Mirza has six Grand Slam titles under her belt. A former doubles world No. 1, Sania Mirza is one of the greatest Indian female tennis players ever. In 2005, Sania Mirza was named in Time magazine's 50 Heroes of Asia list. In 2016, she was named in the magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list.
Satya Nadella is an Indian-American business executive, currently serving as the chief executive officer of Microsoft. Since he became CEO, the company has seen a 27% annual growth rate. Born in India to a Telugu-speaking family, Nadella serves as an inspiration to millions of Indians who nurse 'The American Dream'.
Indian actress and producer, Anushka Sharma is one of the most popular and highest-paid actresses in the country. She was featured by Forbes Asia in their 30 Under 30 list of 2018 and is the recipient of numerous awards. Beginning her career as a model, she soon ventured into acting and made a name for herself within a short while.
Sridevi was an Indian film actress who appeared in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam language films. Considered one of the most popular actresses of all time, Sridevi was dubbed the First Female Superstar in India. With several prestigious awards under her belt, she was also regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation.
Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist whose work Midnight's Children is widely considered the best novel of all Booker Prize winners. In 2007, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature. In 2008, he was ranked 13th in the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 list published by The Times.
Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire in India. He was mostly advised by philosopher Chanakya. He conquered the Nanda Empire and fought the Seleucid-Mauryan War, too. His reign was marked by religious tolerance, and cultural and economic prosperity. He later relinquished his throne and became a Jain monk.
Shah Jahan, emperor Jahangir’s son, ruled as the fifth Mughal emperor, from 1628 to 1658. He is known for commissioning the Taj Mahal for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, among other contributions to Mughal architecture. He was put under house arrest by his son, Aurangzeb, during his final years.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was an Indian politician who played an influential role in the Indian independence movement. Dubbed the Iron Man of India and Unifier of India, Sardar Patel played an important role in integrating various princely states into a united, independent nation. In 2018, the world's tallest statue called the Statue of Unity was dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
One of the most popular and also amongst the highest paid Bollywood actresses, Kareena Kapoor is best known for her roles in movies like Chameli, Omkara, 3 Idiots and Jab We Met. Born into a film family, the beautiful, accomplished and award winning actress always aspired to enter the film industry and eventually made her debut at the age of 19 with the movie Refugee.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the second President of India and served from 1962 to 1967. He is regarded as one of India’s most eminent scholars and wrote extensively on Indian philosophy and religion. Lifelong he defended Hindu traditions and culture against criticism from the West. September 5, his birthday, is observed as Teachers Day in India, in his honour.