Builders of New India
We all remember our freedom fighters and value theircontributions in the making of this Republic. But what happened after August 15, 1947? When British left a divided India, our country was in nascent stage. We had no parliament, no constitution, no government and actually very little idea how to run a country. But we stood firm. While the earlier leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel put the foundations of administration, there were many others in the years to come who shaped the future of India. We can’t write about all of them; there are many. But we remember a few without whom this country couldn’t have been on the world map as an emerging superpower…
BR Ambedkar (1891-1956)
After the British left in 1947, India was without any Constitution. Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was the author of Indian Constitution. He was an economist, professor, lawyer and social activist who spearheaded the Dalit movement in India after independence. His followers lovingly call him Baba (meaning father in Marathi).
Dr Vikram A Sarabhai (1919-1971)
Considered as the father of Indian space programme, Dr Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was the founder of Indian Space and Research Organisation in 1969. As the whole nation celebrates his birth centenary in 2019, ISRO paid a tribute to him by naming the Chandrayaan 2 lander after him. Sarabhai also played a major role in setting up of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in 1961. Physical Research Laboratory (formed by him in 1947) and ISRO launched India’s first satellite, Aryabhata in 1975 from a Russian cosmodrome.
JRD Tata (1904-1993)
Calling him only a pioneer of Indian civil aviation would undermine the other contributions of Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata to the country. He started Tata Airlines which later became Air India. As the head of Tata Sons, JRD contributed to every sector of the economy while keeping the welfare of his employees in mind. He would always be remembered for his compassion and vision.
APJ Abdul Kalam (1931-2015)
Known as the Missile Man of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam had humble beginnings. But he stayed humble throughout his life, even when he became the President of India in 2007. During his stint at ISRO and DRDO, and as a scientific adviser to the government, Kalam played an important role during Pokhran 2. It was then that India became a nuclear power, under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
NR Narayana Murthy (b 1946)
Described as the father of Indian IT sector, Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy co-founded Infosys in 1981. He’s the first one to put India on the global map in terms of outsourcing. Under him, Infosys and India gained worldwide recognition as the back office operator for companies around the world, giving jobs to millions of people.
Pandit Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
Winner of five Grammy Awards and India’s highest honour Bharat Ratna, Robindro Shaunkor Chowdhury aka Pandit Ravi Shankar put Indian classical music on the international stage. He was the best-known proponent of the sitar in the second half of the 20th century and influenced many other musicians throughout the world. His daughters Nora Jones and Anoushka Shankar carry forward his legacy.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
She was only 19 when she came to India, and fell in love with this country. She never married, but was a mother to all. The Albanian Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu or Mother Teresa as she’s lovingly called, gave her life to compassion, love and charity. Mother taught underprivileged of Kolkata, then called Calcutta, and took them as their own. She’s a recipient of Bharat Ratna and deemed a Saint by Roman Catholic Church.
Dr MS Swaminathan (b 1926)
Agriculture is India’s lifeline and nobody understands this better than Dr Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan. He brought about a Green Revolution in India. He introduced and developed high-yield quality of wheat and rice in India. He is one of the greatest environmentalists of our country.
Varghese Kurien (1921-2012)
Known as Father of White Revolution, Varghese Kurien was a social reformer. He started Amul cooperative and made India the largest producer of milk in the world. His Operation Flood helped thousands of women become self sufficient. It generated employment while made the country self-reliant in terms of milk and dairy products.
Satyajit Ray/Guru Dutt/Raj Kapoor
These filmmakers carried the cinema legacy of Dadasaheb Phalke, and how! While Satyajit Ray won Oscar for India, Raj Kapoor put her on the world screen. Guru Dutt, on the other hand, understood the nuances of filmmaking like nobody else. Even today the filmmakers can be divided into these three schools of great cine magicians.