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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
The second prime minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was known for his environmental campaigns and his support for the White Revolution. His slogan "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan,” during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War, became immensely popular. He ended the war by signing the Tashkent Agreement, but died a day later.
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.
Rajiv Gandhi was the sixth and the youngest Prime Minister of India. He played a major role in suhering the computer era in India. During the initial phase of his term, he was very popular but later on his regime was marred by corruption scandals and he lost the next election. He was assassinated by Tamil militants, while he was the leader of the opposition.
Supreme Court lawyer and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had held several ministries, such as external affairs and information and broadcasting. Named India’s “best loved politician” by Wall Street Journal, Swaraj was known for her prompt assistance to Indians in emergency situations abroad and was awarded the Padma Vibhushan posthumously.
Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the central figures of the Indian independence movement along with personalities like Mahatma Gandhi. He became the first prime minister of India and left behind such a legacy that his direct descendants continue to play an important role in Indian politics.
The 13th Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh became the first Sikh in office when he took office in 2004. A prominent economist and academic, he held several key posts in the Government of India in the 1970s and 1980s. Known for his humility, he has been described by the media as "one of the world's most revered leaders."
The patriarch of the Karunanidhi political family of India, M. Karunanidhi had been the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for almost 20 years. The DMK leader was also a noted scriptwriter and author, having written films such as Parasakthi. His son, M. K. Stalin is the current Tamil Nadu chief minister.
The ninth Prime Minister of India, P. V. Narasimha Rao, is often called the Father of Indian Economic Reforms due to a major economic transformation in India during his prime ministership. He dismantled the Licence Raj and his economic policies rescued India from an impending economic collapse.
Chandra Shekhar Azad joined India’s freedom struggle against the British after being deeply affected by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Born Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, he declared himself as Azad when arrested in connection with Gandhiji’s non-cooperation movement. He shot himself to death to escape being held captive by the British.
A king from the Chahamana dynasty, Prithviraj Chauhan ruled Sapadalaksha in present-day north-western India. The son of king Someshvara and queen Karpuradevi, he ascended to the throne when he was just a child. As a young man, he became known as a brave warrior and an excellent military commander. Various sources differ on the exact circumstances of his death.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was an Indian independence activist, Islamic theologian, and scholar. He played a key role in the Indian independence movement, serving as a senior leader of the Congress. His contribution to the Indian education system is recognized across India by celebrating his birthday as National Education Day.
L. K. Advani is a retired Indian politician who served as the Deputy Prime Minister of India from 2002 to 2004. A co-founder of the Bharatiya Janata Party, he has also been the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha on two occasions. He is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian honor.
BJP member Arun Jaitley had led ministries such as finance, defense, and law and justice. The Indian politician was a skilled lawyer and had been part of cases such as the 2002 Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola case in the Supreme Court. He was awarded a Padma Vibhushan posthumously.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.
Bharat Ratna-winner C. Rajagopalachari, nicknamed Rajaji or C.R., was the last Governor-General of India and the first Indian to hold the post. He had also served as an INC leader, the Governor of West Bengal, and the Premier of the Madras Presidency. He launched the Swatantra Party and propagated peace.
Baji Rao I was a peshwa, or chief minister, of the Maratha empire in India. His conquests led a massive blow to the Mughal Empire. In spite of being married to Kashibai, he took a second wife, half-Muslim Mastani, a story that was retold in several movies later.
Lala Lajpat Rai was an Indian politician who played a major role in the Indian Independence movement. He is credited with inspiring many young men, including Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad, to join the freedom struggle through journalistic writings and activism. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari.
Jayaprakash Narayan was a theorist, political leader, socialist, and Indian independence activist. Often referred to as the Hero of Quit India Movement, Jayaprakash Narayan was honored with the prestigious Magsaysay Award in 1965 for Public Service. He was posthumously honored with India's highest civilian award—The Bharat Ratna—in 1999.
Legendary Indian politician Bal Thackeray, or Balasaheb Thackeray, was the patriarch of one of the most influential political families of India and the founder of the Shiv Sena. He went from being a cartoonist to the godfather of Maharashtra, though his overtly regional and Hindu nationalist ideals were often criticized.
Kiran Bedi is an Indian police officer and social activist. In 1972, she became the first Indian woman to serve as an officer in the Indian Police Service. From 2016 to 2021, she served as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, playing an important role in the development of the Indian Union Territory. Her life has inspired many films, including Karthavyam.
N. T. Rama Rao was an Indian actor, director, editor, producer, and politician. One of the most celebrated and popular Telugu actors of all time, Rao is best remembered for playing Hindu deities like Krishna. He was also an influential politician; he served as Andhra Pradesh's chief minister for seven years.
Sonia Gandhi is an Indian politician and president of one of the most prominent Indian political parties, The Indian National Congress. As the president of Indian National Congress, which has been one of India's most successful political parties in the country's post-independence history, Sonia Gandhi remains one of the most powerful women in India.
M. G. Ramachandran was an Indian actor-turned-politician who served as the third chief minister of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He is credited with founding one of the most popular political parties of Tamil Nadu, The AIADMK. Widely regarded as a humanitarian and cultural icon, Ramachandran's portraits can still be seen all over Tamil Nadu.
Dadabhai Naoroji was an Indian scholar and political leader. Dubbed the Grand Old Man of India, Naoroji is remembered for co-founding the Indian National Congress where he served as the president on three occasions. He also played an important role in India's fight for freedom, popularizing the Indian wealth drain theory through his book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India.
Former prime minister of India, H. D. Deve Gowda is currently a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka. Born to a backward-class family in Hassan, Deve Gowda had initially studied civil engineering. He had previously been an INC member but later quit the party to become a Janata Dal leader.
In spite of his short life, which ended at age 24, Birsa Munda is remembered for spearheading the tribal movement against the British. He also made the British introduce new laws for the protection of the tribal land rights. He died in prison while undergoing trials.
An Indian politician who served as the 13th President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was a veteran with a political career spanning over five decades. He occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India, such as Defence, Finance and External Affairs. He was honored with Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 2019.