The Unsung Heroes of India

Often, we marvel at the creation presented before us without appreciating the hands that moulded it. In this line of work, our student Himanshu Sangrola (B Tech CSE II Year) presents the stories of some “ Unsung Heroes of India ”.

India is the motherland of hundreds of heroes who brought laurels to her with all their might. While some of her sons were known and acknowledged for their great work, some have been forgotten with time. This article is about those “Unsung Heroes” who shaped the lives of thousands of Indians. They have worked with the best in the world and proved their mettle on the international stage. These “Unsung Heroes”, through untiring perseverance, have passed the torch of India’s glory from one generation to the next, thus yielding the results with which we are familiar today. Let’s meet some of them.

M. S. Swaminathan


M. S. Swaminathan was born in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu on August 7,1925. He is an Indian geneticist and international administrator, renowned for his role in India’s “Green Revolution”. He was educated in India and at the University of Cambridge (Ph.D., 1952) as a geneticist. During the next two decades he held a number of research and administrative positions. From 1972 to 1979 he was the Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and from 1979 to 1980 he was the Principal Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. He served as the Director General of the International Rice Research Institute from 1982 to 1988 and as the President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources from 1984 to 1990. He has been honored with many awards such as Padma Bhushan in 1972 and Padma Shri in 1967.

Verghese Kurien


Verghese Kurien was born in Kozhikode, Kerala in November 26, 1921. He was an Indian engineer and entrepreneur who was regarded as the architect of India’s “White Revolution”.

He attended Loyola College of the University of Madras (B.Sc., 1940), and he earned another Bachelor’s degree, in Mechanical Engineering, from the same university in 1943. Kurien received a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. When he returned to India, he worked at the Government Research Creamery in Anand, Gujarat state.

Later, Kurien became manager of the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union which later came to be called ‘Amul’ and became one of the largest food producers in India. Under him, the organization acquired equipment to process and store dairy products and proved to be a reliable supplier. In 1965, Kurien became the first chairman of the new National Dairy Development Board. He instituted the “White Revolution,” a long-range program with the objective of increasing milk production. He also established the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation in 1973. Kurien received numerous honors such as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership in 1963 and the World Food Prize in 1989. He died in Nadiad, Gujarat on September 9, 2012

Homi Jehangir Bhabha


Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born in Bombay on October 30, 1909. He was an Indian physicist who was the principal architect of that country’s nuclear energy program.

He went to the University of Cambridge in 1927, originally to study mechanical engineering, but once there he developed a strong interest in physics. He started his research in 1930 at the Cavendish Laboratories in Cambridge and in 1935 obtained a doctorate. After World War II broke out in 1939 Bhabha realized that the development of nuclear energy was crucial for the future industrial growth of the country. Funded by businessman J.R.D. Tata, Indian nuclear research began with the inception of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945. He was appointed the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission by the Government of India in 1948. He served as the President of the United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1955 and as the President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics from 1960 to 1963.

He died in Mont Blanc, France on January 24, 1966.

Rajagopala Chidambaram


R. Chidambaram is the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India and the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet. He is also the Chairman of the High-Level Committee for the National Knowledge Network. He is one of India’s distinguished physicists and has made outstanding contributions to fundamental science and nuclear technology. After receiving his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1962, he joined the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1962 and became its Director in 1990. He was the Chairman of Indian Atomic Energy Commission from 1993-2000, the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during 1994-1995,and was a member of the Commission of Eminent Persons appointed by the IAEA in 2008 to prepare a report on the “Role of the IAEA to 2020 and Beyond”. He was a member, and later Vice-President, of the Executive Committee of the International Union of Crystallography during 1990-1999.

He has D.Sc. degrees from more than twenty Universities in India and abroad. He has more than 200 research publications in refereed journals and has guided the Ph.D. work of many individuals who have themselves become outstanding scientists. Dr. Chidambaram is a recipient of numerous outstanding awards, including the Padma Vibhushan, the C. V. Raman Medal, Life Time Contribution Award in Engineering, the Homi Bhabha Lifetime Achievement Award, the Meghnad Saha Medal, the R.D. Birla Award, the Distinguished Materials Scientist of the Year Award and the Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary International Visiting Fellowship by the Indian National Science Academy.

Vikram Sarabhai


Vikram Sarabhai was born in Ahmadabad on August 12,1919. He was an Indian physicist and industrialist who initiated space research and helped develop nuclear power in India. He attended Gujarat College, Ahmadabad, but later shifted to the University of Cambridge, England. World War II forced him to return to India, where he undertook research in cosmic rays under physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. In 1945 he returned to Cambridge to pursue a doctorate and wrote a thesis, “Cosmic Ray Investigations in Tropical Latitudes,” in 1947. He founded the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmadabad on his return to India.

Sarabhai founded the Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association in 1947 and looked after its affairs until 1956. He also helped in setting up the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmadabad in 1962.

Establishing the Indian National Committee for Space Research in 1962, which was later renamed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Sarabhai also set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in southern India. After the death of physicist Homi Bhabha in 1966, Sarabhai was appointed the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India. Carrying forward Bhabha’s work in the field of nuclear research, Sarabhai was largely responsible for the establishment and development of India’s nuclear power plants. He laid the foundations for the indigenous development of nuclear technology for defense purposes.

Sarabhai initiated programs to take education to remote villages through satellite communication and called for the development of satellite-based remote sensing of natural resources. Sarabhai was awarded two of India’s highest honors, the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan. He died in Kovalam on December 30, 1971.

Sam Pitroda


Sam Pitroda was born in Titlagarh, Odisha on 4th May 1942. He is a telecom engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker. He went to Chicago to study electrical engineering. In early 1970’s , he was involved in technology research work in telecomunnication and handheld computing . He is regarded as one of the pioneers of handheld computing as he invented electronic diary in 1975. In 1974, he joined Wescom Switching which was the first digital switching company in the world. When he returned to India in 1984, he started the centre for Development of Telemetics. In 1987, he became the advisor of Rajiv Gandhi. In 1990’s he returned back to Chicago to resume his business interests. In October 2009, he became the advisor of Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Alluru Seerin Kiran Kumar


Shri A. S. Kiran Kumar was born on October 22, 1952 in Hassan, Karnataka. He is the current Chairman of the Space Commission. Shri Kiran Kumar obtained his Honours Degree in Physics from National College, Bangalore in 1971. He did M.Sc. in Electronics from Bangalore University in 1973 and M.Tech. in Physical Engineering from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1975.

A. S. Kiran Kumar has contributed to the design and development of more than 50 Electro-Optical Imaging Sensors flown on Space borne platform, the latest one being Mars Orbiter Mission. He also played a crucial role in Chandrayaan-1 mission. He has been the Chair of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) in 2012. He has valuable contributions to Coordination Group of Meteorological Satellites (CGMS), Expert Team on Satellite Systems – World Meteorological Organisation (ETSAT of WMO) and Indo- US Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation.

Shri Kiran Kumar is a Fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering, Indian Society of Remote Sensing, Institution of Electronics & Telecommunications Engineers, Indian Meteorological Society, Gujarat Science Academy and Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences and an elected member of International Academy of Astronautics. He was conferred the Padma Shri award by the President of India in 2014. The Government of Karnataka honored him with Rajyostava Award for the year 2015 and ‘Sir M. Visvesvaraya Senior Scientist State Award’ for the year 2013.

Tessy Thomas


Tessy Thomas was born in Alappuzha, Kerela in April 1963. She is an Indian scientist and Project Director for Agni-IV missile in Defence Research and Development Organisation. She is also known as ‘The Missile Woman of India’.

She studied engineering from Government Engineering College in Thrissur and also has an M.Tech in Guided Missile from the Institute of Armament Technology, Pune. She also pursued MBA in Operations Management and Ph.D in guidance missile under DRDO. She joined DRDO in 1988. She was placed in the department of design and development of the new generation ballistic missile, Agni. For the Agni Programme, she has been appointed by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. She was awarded the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for her contribution in the field of missile technology. She was also awarded D.Sc. by ITM University, Gwalior in 2016.

Satish Dhawan


Satish Dhawan was born in Srinagar on 25 September 1920. He was an Indian aerospace engineer and was also known as ‘The Father of experimental Fluid Dynamics Research in India’. He studied in University of Punjab where he completed B. Sc. in Physics and Mathematics, Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and M.A. in English Literature. Later in 1947, he completed M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Minnesota, an Aeronautical Engineering Degree from the California Institute of Technology and a double PhD. in Mathematics and Aerospace Engineering. In 1972, he became the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation and Secretary to the Government of India at the Department of Space. He was awarded with many honors such as the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan in 1971 and 1981. He died on 3 January 2002 in Bangalore.

Vinod Dham


Vinod Dham was born in 1950 in Pune, India. He is widely known as ‘The Father of the Pentium chip’ for his significant contribution in developing the most successful Pentium Processors for Intel. He did his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering in 1971 after which he worked for a Delhi-based semiconductor company Continental Devices. In 1977, he completed his Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He worked for National Cash Register at Dayton, Ohio before being hired by Intel. In 1990, he led the team that developed the 586 or Pentium processor, which became an instant hit in the market.

In 1995, he joined a startup called NextGen as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President. Dham did important contributions in developing AMD’s famous and world’s fastest K6 Processor. After this, he opened a small startup and a communications technology development firm Silicon Spice.

In 1993, Vinod Dham was quoted one of the top 25 executives in the US computer industry and in 1999 he was among the top 100 most influential Asian Americans of the decade. In 2011, he was awarded the People Choice Award and Special Jury Award in the category of Science and technology.


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