Making the nation proud through one’s deeds is the rarest of rare privileges and it is not certainly everyone’s forte. India has also been bestowed with glory by Indians living in their homeland and residing abroad. Today, let us focus on the ones who brought fame to India by staying outside the country. And, of course, we will not be including the usual names like Kalpana Chawla or Indira Nooyi in the list as we will try to put the spotlight on less-celebrated NRIs. So, let us get started.
Narinder Singh Kapany (1926-2020)
This Indian American physicist who is globally renowned as the father of fibre optics is no more with us. But he lives amongst us as a result of his stellar achievements in the domain of fibre optics. Credited with inventing fibre optics, the Punjab-born genius breathed his last on 4 December 2020. For his incredible works in his glorious journey, he was bestowed with India’s second highest civilian award Padma Vibhushan posthumously in 2021. In fact, impressed by his wealth of talent, the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru offered him the post of Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister of India as well.
S Chandrashekhar (1910-95)
This Indian American theoretical physicist happened to be another non-resident Indian to make the country proud. In 1983, Chandrashekhar shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with William A Fowler for theoretical studies of physical processes of significance to the structure and evolution of stars. For his stupendous feats, many institutions, theories and inventions; for example, Chandrashekhar limit and Chandra X-Ray Observatory; were accorded his name. He also contributed a lot through his infinite knowledge and skills to the modern-day understanding of the stellar structure, White Dwarfs, stellar dynamics etc.
Vinod Khosla (1955)
This Indian American entrepreneur got featured as a billionaire in Forbes Magazine and is one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems, a company well-known for introducing Java Language programming and file network system to the world. After a glorious stint with Sun, Khosla floated his own entity, Khosla Ventures. Born in Delhi, the IIT Delhi alumnus played an integral part in launching ventures such as Daisy Systems and Tie. These apart, he has also devoted a substantial part of his wealth, $450 million, to several green initiatives like ethanol factories etc.
V Ramakrishnan (1952)
This Tamil Nadu-born British and American structural biologist shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 with Thomas A Steitz and Ada Yonath for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome. Apart from serving as the President of the Royal Society (2015-20), he was a group leader at the Medical Research Council on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, UK. After completing his graduation from India, Ramakrishnan moved to the US for higher studies in the 70s.
Mira Nair (1957)
Not just in science and commerce NRIs have also made India proud in the field of arts as well. Mira Nair happens to be an Indian based out of New York to mesmerize people across the globe with her non-conformist cinematic expressions. Through her production company Mirabai Films she has made movies centred around India that have won a lot of laurels globally as well as invited the wrath of many in her country of birth. Apart from bagging the Golden Camera Award at Cannes Film Festival for her debut venture Salaam Bombay (1988), she was even honoured with India’s third highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, in 2012. Her first movie even got nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars.