Abiden, Zain-ul(15th c. AD): A benevolent and enlightened ruler of Kashmir; preceded Akbar in abolishing Jaziya, granting absolute religious freedom to all sects in his kingdom.
Agarwal, Om(d. 1994): The first Asian and the only Indian to win the World Amateur Snooker Championship. Recipient of Padma Shri in 1985, and also of Arjuna Award the same year.
Alberuni(b. 973 AD): Iranian scholar and historian. Accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni during his invasion of India. Authored Kitab-ul-Hindi, which gives an account of Indian philosophy and science in the 11th century.
Albuquerque, Alfonso de(16 c. AD): Founder of Portuguese empire in the East. Conquered Goa from Sultan of Bijapur in 1510 and made it his capital.
Alexander the Great(356-323 BC): King of Macedonia. Conquered South-West Asia and Egypt and founded Alexandria. Invaded India in 326 BC. After defeating King Porus and many others, advanced up to river Beas. Died during his return journey to Macedonia at Babylon.
Ali, Aruna Asaf(1909-1996): The veteran freedom fighter and social worker, who played a prominent role in the 1942 Quit India Movement, died at the age of 87. First woman Mayor of Delhi. Awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously in July 1997.
Ali, Salim(1896-1987): Indian ornithologist, known as "The Birdman of India". Contributed a lot to the study of Indian birds. Winner of several international and national honors, including Padma Vibhushan in 1976.
Ali, Sardar Jafri: Noted Urdu writer and poet, who won the 33rd Jnanpith Award in 1997 for his creative writing in Urdu (1977-1996) to the enrichment of Indian literature. Outstanding works include Parwaz (1943), Khoon Ki Lakeer (1949), Asia Jag Utha (1951) and Lahu Pukarta Hai (1978). Died on August 1, 2000.
Ambedkar, B.R.(1891-1956): Indian jurist, statesman, social reformer and scheduled castes leader. Chairman of Constitution drafting body. Minister of Law (1946-51). Posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna in 1990.
Amrohi, Kamal(d. 1993): Indian writer, producer and director. Brought a Mughal touch to Indian films. Joined the film industry in 1937 and spent over 50 years in the industry. Husband of late Meena Kumari, noted tragedienne of Indian screen.
Amundsen, Ronald(1872-1928): Norwegian explorer. First to reach the South Pole (1911) and first to navigate the Northwest Passage (1903-1906). Was lost in the Arctic.
Andrews, C.F.(1871-1940): British missionary. Lived in India from 1904, devoted himself to India`s struggle for freedom and worked with Indian leaders. Came to be known as "Deenabandhu".
Annadurai, C.N.(1909-1969): Founder of DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Archimedes(287-212 BC): Greek mathematician and scientist. Discovered the laws of floating bodies and Archimedes` principle. Known for his doctrine of levers, conception of specific gravity, etc. Invented Archimedean screw. Killed by Romans during siege of Syracuse.
Aristotle(384-322 BC): Greek philosopher and poet. Founder of the science of logic or rules of reasoning. Established a school of philosophy at Athens. Was a disciple of Plato and teacher of Alexander, the Great. Author of Poetics, and The Ethics.
Aryabhatta(476-520 AD): Indian astronomer and mathematician. Adorned the court of Chandragupta Vikramaditya. Credited with the invention of algebra. India`s first satellite, Aryabhatta, is named after him.
Ashapurna Devi(1909-1995): Grand old lady of Bengali literature. First woman Jnanpith award winner (1976). Works include the trilogy, Prathama Pratishruti, Subarnalata, Bakuler Katha. Other works are Balaygras, Joghivog, Sasibabur Sansar, Sagar Nirija, Patni-o-Preyashi, Thakurdar Kashijatra, etc.
Ashoka(3rd c. BC): Emperor of India. Believed in conquest by love or faith rather than by force or arms. Even after the victory in the Battle of Kalinga (261 BC), renounced war and embraced Buddhism.
Asvaghosh(2nd c. AD): Buddhist philosopher. Spiritual advisor of King Kanishka. Participated in the 4th Buddhist Council. Author of Sariputra Prakarma.
Attlee, Clement Richard(1883-1967): Labour Prime Minister of England, 1945-51. During his tenure of Prime Ministership, India won freedom in 1947. His works include `As it Happened`, `Empire into Commonwealth`.
Augustus, C.O.(63 BC-14 AD): First Roman Emperor. Patronised art and literature. Writers like Horace and Virgil flourished during his time. Hence the period is named after him as "Augustan Age" in Literature.
Austen, Jane(1775-1817): The famous British novelist, she was the author of Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.
Azad, Chandra Sekhar(1906-1931): Indian revolutionary leader. Was involved in the Non-Cooperation Movement, Assembly bomb incident, Delhi conspiracy, Lahore conspiracy, Kakori conspiracy etc.
Azad, Maulana Abul Kalam(1888-1958): A nationalist Muslim scholar. President of Indian National Congress. Founded Al Hilal and Al Balagh, Urdu weeklies. Minister of Education and Arts in Interim Government. Free India`s first Union Education Minister. Established UGC, IIT (Kharagpur), and many other institutions. Was posthumously conferred Bharat Ratna, 1992. Author of India Wins Freedom.
Bacon, Francis(1561-1625): British essayist and philosopher. Rejected Aristotelian deductive logic for inductive method. Author of Navum Organum and Essays.
Bajaj, Jamnalal(1889-1942): A close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Was Congress treasurer. Founder of Satyagraha Ashram (at Wardha), Sasta Sahitya Mandal, Gau Seva Sangh, and Gandhi Seva Sangh. He gave Segaon village to Mahatma Gandhi, who renamed it as "Sevagram". Jamnalal Bajaj awards are given every year in his memory.
Bajaj, Ramakrishna: The eminent industrialist, philanthropist and freedom fighter died on September 21, 1994 at the age of 71.
Banabhatta(7th c. AD): Sanskrit scholar. Court poet of Harshavardhana. Wrote Kadambari and Harsha Charita.
Bannerjee, Surendranath(1848-1925): Indian patriot from Bengal. One of the first three candidates to pass the ICS examination. Founded Indian Association (1876). Created a national fund to make agitation against British rule more constructive. Held the presidentship of Indian National Congress twice. Proprietor-editor of Bengali newspaper.
Bannerjee, Womesh Chandra(1844-1906): First President of Indian National Congress, at its first session held in 1885 at Bombay. Migrated to England in 1902 and worked for the Indian cause from there. Financed a journal in India.
Bardoloi, Gopinath: A freedom fighter and former Chief Minister of Assam who was posthumously honoured with Bharat Ratna in January 1999. He is the 11th posthumous awardee of Bharat Ratna.
Batuta, Ibn(14th c. AD): South African scholar and traveler. Visited India in 1333, spent eight years in India and wrote about the reign of Muhammed Tughlaq.
Begin, Menachem(1913-1992): Israeli politician and leader of the Likud bloc. Was Prime Minister from 1977 to 1983. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize, 1978.
Bell, Alexander Graham(1847-1922): Edinburgh-born American citizen. Invented telephone in 1876. Devoted himself to the education of deaf-mutes.
Bentinck, William(19th c.): Governor-General of India (1828 to 1838). Known for his social reforms such as outlawing of Sati, suppression of thugs and human sacrifice, etc. Spread English education in India and carried out many financial and administrative reforms of a lasting nature.
Benz, Karl(1844-1929): German engineer. His motor car, produced in 1885, was one of the first to be driven by an internal combustion engine.
Bernier, Francois(18th-19th c.): French traveler, served as physician to Aurangzeb during his long stay in India.
Besant, Annie(1846-1933): An Irish by birth, became a staunch supporter of India`s freedom movement. Founded Indian Boy Scouts` Association, Theosophical Society of India and Home Rule League. First woman President of Indian National Congress (1917).
Bhabha, Homi J.(1909-1966): Indian physicist. Father of Indian Nuclear Science. Responsible for creating Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Died in a plane crash.
Bharati, Subramania(1882-1921): Indian poet, journalist, patriot and philosopher. Influenced Tamil literature greatly. The title `Bharati` was conferred on him by the Raja of Ettayapuram (Tamil Nadu).
Bhaskara I(7th c. AD): Indian astronomer. A contemporary of Brahmagupta, another Indian astronomer. India`s second satellite for earth observation, Bhaskara, is named after him.
Bhaskaracharya II(12 c. A.D.): Indian mathematician and astronomer. First to state that anything divided by zero is equal to infinity. Invented calculus long before Newton and Leibnitz. Author of Sidhanta Shiromani.
Bhatnagar, Shanti Swarup(1894-1955): Indian scientist and science administrator. Responsible for the establishment of national science laboratories. Many science awards have been instituted in his name.
Bhave, Acharya Vinoba(1895-1982): Sarvodaya leader. Known for Shramdan and Bhoodan Movements. Established Paramdham Ashram at Paunar. Winner of first Magsaysay award (1959). Posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna, 1983.
Bhutto, Z. A.(1928-1979): Prime Minister of Pakistan. Was executed under the military dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq who had removed him from Prime Ministership in a military coup on July 4, 1977. Father of Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Signed Simla Agreement with Indira Gandhi in 1972.
Bismark, Otto von(1815-1898): German statesman, known as "Iron Chancellor" for his blood and iron policy. Founder of German Empire.
Bismil, Ramprasad(1897-1927): Indian revolutionary. Leader of militant Hindustan Republican Association. Involved in Kakori train dacoity case (1925). Executed.
Bolivar, Simon(1783-1830): South American revolutionist, called the Liberator. He founded Grand Colombia (now Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador). Revered as a Latin American hero.
Bonaparte, Napoleon(1769-1821): French military leader. Nicknamed "Little Corporal". Emperor of France from 1804 to 1815. Victorious in battles against England, Russia and Austria, was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815. Exiled to St. Helena where he died of stomach cancer.
Bose, J.C.(1858-1937): Great Indian scientist. Independently of Marconi, did original work in wireless transmission. Also made a special study of plant physiology and claimed that plants have life and soul. Founded Bose Research Institute, Calcutta. Invented crescograph. Author of `Response in the Living and Non-Living` and `Plant Response`.
Bose, Khudiram(1889-1908): Indian revolutionary. Took part in looting of mailbags at Hatgachha and in bomb attack on Bengal Governor`s special train in 1907. Organised a plot, in collaboration with Prafulla Chaki, and threw bombs at the carriage of Kingsford, the Sessions Judge at Muzaffarpur. Was hanged to death.
Bose, Nandlal(d. 1966): Indian artist. Father of Modern Painting in India. Director of Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan. Winner of Padma Bhushan.
Bose, Rashbehari(1886-1945): Indian revolutionary leader. In 1912, planned the throwing of a bomb on Viceroy Lord Hardinge. Charged in Lahore Conspiracy Case for his plan to cut telegraph communications in North India. In 1916, married Tosiko Soma and became a Japanese citizen. Founder-President of Indian Independence League at Bangkok in 1942.
Bose, Satyendra Nath(1894-1974): Indian physicist. Was Vice-Chancellor of Vishwabharti University, and President of National Institute of Sciences of India. Boson, an elementary particle, is named after him.
Bose, Subash Chandra(1897-1945): Great Indian national leader. President of Indian National Congress. Founder of Forward Bloc. During World War II, formed Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) by recruiting Indian prisoners of war. Later, organized a freedom fight against the British with Japanese help. Fondly remembered as `Netaji` for this role. Was conferred Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992 (withdrawn).
Brahmagupta(598-680 AD): Indian mathematician. First to treat zero as a number. Author of Brahma Siddhanta.
Braille, Louis(1809-1852): French educationist and teacher of blind. Himself a blind, he invented the embossed dot system of reading and writing for the blind in 1829.
Brandt, Willy(1913-1992): First Social Democrat Chancellor of West Germany. Won 1971 Nobel Peace Prize for his policy of "Ostpolitik", which helped East-West relations thaw during the Cold War.
Buck, Pearl S.(1892-1972): American author on China and winner of 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature and 1932 Pulitzer Prize for The Good Earth. Her other works are A House Divided, Imperial Woman, etc.
Buddha, Gautama(563-483 BC): Founder of Buddhism. Was born as a Kshatriya prince to Suddhodana, king of Kapilavastu, in Nepal. His birthplace is stated to be Lumbini village. Renounced his royal heritage, and turned away from his wife and son to ponder on the problems of birth, death and disease. Attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in Bihar.
Burman, Rahul Dev(d. 1994): The noted music director, who composed over 400 songs for Hindi films, died in Mumbai on January 4, 1994 at the age of 54. Son of the legendary composer S. D. Burman, and husband of the renowned singer Asha Bhosale, he was known for his relatively light and "peppy" kind of music.
FEW GREAT ACHIEVERS:
Aatre, Vaasudeva K.: The 60-year-old expert in naval weapons, who was the Director of the Naval and Physical Oceanographic Laboratory, was appointed the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Chief of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) on December 28, 1999 succeeding Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Dr. Vasudeva K. Aatre has done B.E. (Electrical) and holds a doctorate degree from the Waterloo University, Canada.
Abdul Kalam, A.P.I.(b. 1931): The Scientific Adviser of the Defence Minister and former Chief of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was appointed the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government on November 25, 1999 with the rank of a Cabinet Minister. Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam advises the government on scientific development and scientific and technical policies in different sectors.
Adhikari, Col. Hemu: The 81-year-old former India middle-order batsman who played for India in 21 Tests between 1947 and 1959, and won a series in England for the first time in 1971, was selected for C.K. Nayadu Award by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on August 19, 2000. The award carries a citation, a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 2 lakh.
Advani, L.K.: Union Home Minister under BJP-led NDA Government, known for his tough stand over Kashmir issue. Former President of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Advani represents the hard face of BJP.
Ahmed, Shahabuddin: The 66-year-old former Bangladesh Supreme Court Chief Justice was sworn in as Bangladesh`s 14th President in October 1996 succeeding Mr. Abdur Rahman Biswas. Played a key role in bringing back parliamentary democracy to Bangladesh in 1991.
Agassi, Andre(b. 1971): American tennis champion. Winner of US Open tennis championship (1994 & 1999), Australian Open (1995 & 2000) and French Open (1999).
Agha Khan, Prince Karim(b. 1936): 49th Imam of Ismalia community, a sect of Shia Muslims. He is the richest head of any religious sect, was educated at Harvard, and succeeded his grandfather in 1957 as the Imam of his community. Claims to be a direct descendant of Prophet Mohammad.
Ahern, Bertie: Leader of the Fianna Fail Party, who was elected the new Prime Minister of Ireland after June 1997 elections.
Ahmad, Anesa: Medical practitioner. First woman to deliver the Friday sermon from a mosque in Port of Spain.
Akella, Jagannadhan: Indian scientist from Andhra Pradesh. Co-recipient of 1994 Weapons Recognition of Excellence Award by the United States, for his study of Diamond Anvil Cell.
Akram, Wasim: He is a Pakistani cricketer and former captain and the highest wicket-taker in one-day internationals. He broke the world record of maximum number of sixes (12) in the Test match against Zimbabwe in his 257 runs; the only cricketer in the world who completed "double" 300 Test wickets and as many one-dayers on October 30, 1996 in Pakistan against Zimbabwe. Akram is the third bowler in the history of Test Cricket to achieve two hat tricks.
Ali, Muhammad(b. 1942): His real name is Cassius Clay and is an American boxer. He is the first to win heavyweight crown three times. He retired from boxing in 1979. He received special honour during the Centennial Olympics at Atlanta in 1996.
Ambani, Dhirubhai: Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) Chairman is the first Indian to be awarded the Dean`s Medal from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in recognition of his leadership in founding and building RIL into India`s largest most widely traded and most profitable company.
Ambati, Balamurali(b. 1978): Indian student. Graduated from New York`s Mount Sinai School of Medicine and became the world`s youngest (17 years) medical doctor on May 19, 1995 (The average age for medical school graduates is 26 or 27). He has co-authored two books on AIDS with his elder brother.
Amte, (Baba) Muralidhar Devidas(b. 1914): Indian social worker. Known for his work among leprosy patients. He established Anand Van, a colony for leprosy patients, near Nagpur. Founder of Knit India Movement. Recipient of first G.D. Birla International Award for outstanding contributions to humidity. Also a winner of Templeton, Ramon Magsaysay, and UN Right Livelihood Awards. Awarded in 1999 the Gandhi Peace Prize for his exemplary work for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients and his concept of the "Shramik Vidyapeeth".
Anand, Dr. Adarsh Sen: The 29th Chief Justice of India who succeeded Justice M.M. Punchhi on October 10, 1998. Justice Anand`s earlier assignments include Chief Justice of J&K High Court. He also authored a book, The Constitution of J&K: Its Development and Comments.
Anand, Mulk Raj(b. 1905): Indian writer in English. Chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi (1955-1970). Author of Untouchable, The Bubble, Confessions of a Lover, Morning Face, Seven Summers, etc. Winner of Leverhulme Fellowship (1940-1942), World Peace Council Prize (1952), Padma Bhushan (1968) and many other awards.
Anand, Viswanathan(b. 1969): India`s Grandmaster. First Indian and youngest Asian to win International Master`s title (1987) and Chess Oscar 1997 and 1998. First recipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Won Arjuna Award (1985), Padma Shri (1988), and K.K. Birla Foundation Award (1992).
Ang, Rita: The veteran Mount Everest climber, who has conquered the world`s highest peak ten times. The 48-year-old Sherpa, nicknamed `snow leopard`, is known for his unmatched climbing skills in local and international mountaineering circles. He rewrote a mountaineering circles. He rewrote a mountaineering record in May 1996 by reaching the 8,848-metre-high summit of Mt. Everest for the tenth time without using oxygen.
Annan, Kofi: The seventh UN Secretary-General, who is credited with the achievement of averting a possible military strike by Anglo-American forces on Iraq over weapons inspection issue. Recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize 1998 for his contribution to world peace.
Antonioni, Michelangelo(b. 1911): A pioneer of world cinema. Has contributed a lot to Italian cinema. His films include The Night, Street Cleaners, Story of A Love Affair, The Cry, etc.
Anwar, Saeed: The 29-year-old Pakistani opener etched his name for ever in the annals of cricket history, when he countered the Indian attack for a mesmerizing 194 runs in the Pepsi Independence Cup, thus outclassing Vivian Richard`s score of 189, to become the highest individual scorer in one-day internationals.
Aparna Popat: National champion in women`s badminton, became the first woman from the country to win an international ranking tournament claiming the $10,000 French Open championship in Paris on March 22, 1998, defeating top-seeded Katja Michlowsky of Germany. Also son silver medal in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Ariyaratne, Ahangamage Tudor: The 65-year-old social worker of Sri Lanka-popularly known as "Gandhi of Sri Lanka"-was the recipient of the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize worth Rs. 1 crore for 1996 which was presented to him in New Delhi on January 1, 1997.
Armstrong, Neil (b. 1930): He was an American astronaut and the first man to set foot on the Moon on July 21, 1969. Was the civilian commander of Apollo 11 mission.
Arora, Aastha: The baby born at the Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi on May 11, 2000 was officially designated as India`s billionth citizen. This occasion was used to publicise the need to control the country`s burgeoning population which according to experts will surpass that of China - the only other nation with more than one billion people-in 45 years hence.
Arputham, Jockin:The 53-year-old Mumbai-based founder of the National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) which now spans 21 other cities was on August 31, 2000 conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award 2000 for International Understanding for extending the lessons of community building in India to Southeast Asia and Africa and helping the urban poor of these continents to improve their lives.
Athavale, Pandurang Shastri: The founder and leader of Swadhyaya movement, was named as the Templeton Award winner for 1997. The award, which carries a purse of US $1.2 million, was in recognition of his movement, which had liberated hundreds of villagers in India from the bondage of casteism and other social vices. He also won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1996 for Community Leadership.
Attenborough, Richard(b. 1923): British actor-director. Known for his film Gandhi, which won eight Oscars in 1983.
Azharuddin, Mohammad: Former Indian cricket skipper. Became the first Indian, and the fourth batsman in the world, to cross 5,000 runs in limited-overs international cricket on November 3, 1994, playing against New Zealand in the Wills World Series in New Delhi. Has the world record of participating in the highest number of one-dayers and highest ever partnership of 275 runs along with Ajay Jadeja, against Zimbabwe.
Azmi, Shabana: The Indian film actress and social activist who is also playing a lead role in Deepa Mehta`s controversial film "Water" received the Best Actress Award for her performance in Godmother at the 46th National Awards function New Delhi on February 15, 2000. She is presently a nominated member of Rajya Sabha.