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.
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.
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).
Preity Zinta is an Indian actress and entrepreneur. She is best known for her roles in the romantic drama films Kal Ho Naa Ho and Veer Zaara. She has degrees in English honors and criminal psychology but chose to become a model and actress. She is known for playing unconventional roles and is the recipient of several awards.
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.
Shabana Azmi is an Indian actress best known for playing eccentric and unconventional characters. One of the most acclaimed and celebrated actresses, Azmi has won several prestigious awards, including a record five National Film Awards under the Best Actress category. In 2012, Shabana Azmi was honored with India's third-highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan.
Sunil Gavaskar is an Indian former professional cricket player who represented the national team during the 1970s and 1980s. Considered one of the greatest batsmen in Test cricket history, Sunil Gavaskar was the first batsman to score over 10,000 runs in Test cricket. He also set many world records and held the record for most Test centuries for nearly 20 years.
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.
Kumar Mangalam Birla is an Indian industrialist best known as the chairman of the Indian multinational conglomerate company, Aditya Birla Group. He also serves as the chairman of IIM Ahmedabad and IIT Delhi. Over the course of his career, Birla has received several honors like the Business Leader of the Year award and Outstanding Business Man of the Year award.
Vidya Balan is an Indian film actress best known for her work in the Hindi film industry. Vidya Balan is credited with leading a change in the depiction of women in Indian films by playing the lead in many women-centered films. She has also supported organizations that work to empower women. Balan has won many awards like the National Film Award.
Indian businessman Anil Ambani is the chairman of Reliance Group. Once the sixth richest person in the world, he declared bankruptcy in early 2020 though the veracity of his claim is questionable. He has served in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India. He has been involved in many controversies.
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.
Reita Faria is an Indian physician and former beauty queen. She is best known for winning the Miss World pageant in 1966 and thereby becoming the first woman of Asian origin to win the contest. Reita Faria is also the first qualified physician to win the Miss World title. Reita Faria declined several acting offers to focus on her career as a physician.
Apart from heading several ministries, Congress leader Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan had also served as the chief minister of Bombay State and the chief minister of Maharashtra. He was an active participant in the Quit India movement and had even been jailed. He was a patron of education and culture.
Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is also the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation and his own broadcast network, Peace TV. Though a qualified surgeon, he later gained fame as a public speaker. His channel is banned in multiple countries, such as India, Bangladesh, and the UK, for its extremist nature.
Raja Ramanna was an Indian nuclear physicist, remembered for his role in the development of India’s nuclear weapons program. Beginning his career under Homi Bhabha, he eventually served as the director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, overseeing India’s first nuclear weapons test in 1974. Meanwhile he also served as the secretary for defense research and later headed Atomic Energy Commission.
Fali Sam Nariman is an Indian jurist best known for his association with the Supreme Court of India where he has been serving as a senior advocate since 1971. From 1991 to 2010, he also served as the Bar Association of India's president. Over the course of his career, Nariman has been honored with prestigious awards like the Padma Vibhushan.
Deeply connected with Indian innovation movement, Raghunath Anant Mashelkar is especially known for his contributions to transport phenomena. Throughout his career, he had held important positions, including the post of the Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. He also chaired many important national committees, investigating diverse issues like drug regulatory system and national auto fuel policy.
Mahadev Govind Ranade was an Indian social reformer, scholar, author, and judge. Ranade is credited with co-founding the Indian National Congress as well as founding several organizations like the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Widow Marriage Association, and Vaktruttvottejak Sabha. He also contributed as an editor of a nationalist publication named Induprakash.
Iskander Mirza was a Pakistani civil servant and general who served as the first president of Pakistan. Mirza played an important role in the newly-created Pakistan in 1974. After the Partition of India, Mirza served as the first Defence Secretary and oversaw the military efforts during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948.
Sir Pherozeshah Mehta was an Indian lawyer and politician. In 1904, the British Government in India honored Mehta with a knighthood for his work and service to the law. Between 1884 and 1911, he was the president of the Bombay Municipality on four occasions. Pherozeshah Mehta also played an important role as a founding member of the Indian National Congress.
Indian mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik has redefined the genres of Indian folklore, legends and myths by retelling ancient tales through his books. A qualified physician, he later studied comparative mythology and penned bestsellers such as My Gita. His shows, such as Business Sutra and Devlok, have been hits, too.
Anil Kakodkar is an Indian mechanical engineer and nuclear physicist who served as the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) from 1996 to 2000. He is one of the core members of the team which conducted Pokharan II nuclear tests. Over the course of his career, Kakodkar has received several prestigious awards, such as the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan is an Indian space scientist who supervised the development of several scientific satellites including the Indian Remote Sensing Satellites IRS-1A and IRS-1B and the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-2) while serving as the director of ISRO Satellite Centre. He served as the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for nine years from 1994 to 2003.
Arjuna Award-winning former Indian badminton player Aparna Popat matched Prakash Padukone's record of 9 consecutive national singles title wins. Trained by Padukone, she later also went on to win a Commonwealth Games and a World Junior Championship silver. After retiring due to an injury, she took to coaching.
Social activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad is best known for establishing the Sabrang Trust, aimed at peace-building after the 1992 Mumbai riots, and the CJP, aimed at seeking justice for the 2002 Gujarat riot victims. The Padma Shri awardee has also successfully obtained 117 convictions against the Gujarat rioters.
Nanabhoy Palkhivala was an Indian liberal economist and jurist. Best remembered for his clear thinking and brilliant court craft, Palkhivala helped shape the constitutional jurisprudence in India. He achieved national recognition for his high-profile cases and his annual budget speeches.