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Art & Culture

 AR Rehman, Legendary Musician: Born 6 January 1966 (as A. S. Dileep Kumar) is an Indian Tamil film composer, record producer, musician and singer. His film scoring career began in the early 1990s. He has won fourteen Filmfare Awards, four National Film Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, two Grammy Awards, and two Academy Awards. Working in India's various film industries, international cinema and theatre, by 2004, Rahman, in a career spanning over a decade, had sold more than 150 million records of his film scores and soundtracks worldwide, and sold over 200 million cassettes, making him one of the world's all-time top selling recording artists. Time magazine has referred to him as the "Mozart of Madras" and several Tamil commentators have coined him the nickname Isai Puyal.  http://www.arrahman.com/


Prince Dance Group, Winners of India's Got Talent: The group is unique that the members are from a remote part of India and most of them are from disadvantaged sections of different parts of Ganjam district. Two of them, Padmanabha Sahu (24) and Telu Tarini (13) are physically challenged. They have won the hearts of all Oriyas, including chief minister Naveen Patnaik, and even outsiders with their performance in the programme "India's Got Talent". After winning Rs 50 lakh prize money and a Maruti Ritz car from the channel, a pleasant surprise lay in store for them. The Orissa government announced a cash prize of Rs one crore and four acres of land for the group to build a dance academy. Confirming the news, Krishna Mohan Reddy, the choreographer of Prince Dance Group said, “We have heard that our government has announced a prize for us. We feel honoured. I am very happy that our efforts have paid off.” The group, which is from Berhampur, Orissa, consists of 20 members. Krishna leads the team and the rest are labourers from a construction site. It was their Krishna act which earned the group accolades from the viewers nationwide and they also became a favourite with the judges. http://princedancegroup.in/


Shillong Chamber Choir, Winners of India's Got Talent: Shillong Chamber Choir, although got into fame within India post winning the India's Got Talent, was established in 2001 by Neil Nongkynrih at Shillong, the Rock capital of India. The group has performed at various National & International levels including World Choir Games at China where it bagged the Gold in 3 categories. The group also performed recently in front of US President Barack Obama. There is a short film, The Shillong Chamber Choir, sponsored by Government of India. The film was directed by Urmi Juvekar. It was during the same India's Got Talent where Drummer Teji Toko from Arunachal Pradesh stood second. http://www.shillongchamberchoir.com/


 

Asmita Theatre Group, Working on Social Issues: Asmita is one of the leading Hindi theatre groups in India with almost 48 productions to its credit so far. It's focus area is innovative & socially relevant theatre. Asmita group was established in 1993 by Arvind Gaur & since then has conducted many a act throughout India. Asmita was quite intrumental in conducting open theatres across New Delhi during the India Against Corruption movement & the Delhi Rape case protest, raising social awareness amongst people. Noted artists like Piyush Mishra, Kangana Ranaut & Deepak Dobriyal come from this group & have made a mark for themselves in the Film industry. http://asmitatheatregroup.com/


Distinguished People in Various Areas

"Amanat", Girl who Revolutionized India: No body knows her real name, nobody has seen her yet She is known by many as Amanat, a name given by the doctors who treated her, Damini, the Lightening & Nirbharya, the Fearless. Amanat is the story of a valiant girl, studying medicine, who stood against the darkest possible examples of man kind, who tried to rape & beat her mercilessly in a moving bus in the National Capital, New Delhi, on the night of 16th Dec 2012 but she fought against them, along with her male friend, tooth & nail before succumbing to her deep injuries at a Singapore Hospital on the 29th Dec 2012. Her mere valour made whole of India ponder over the near zero Protection, Security & Safety of women in India, who die a death every day. Huge protests followed across India, that shook the conscience of most Indians, led by one at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, that is continuing even after her death, demanding tougher laws for crimes against women. She did what many reformers couldn't accomplish, galvanizing the conscience of the India's Patriarchal Society. She's India's daughter.


 Dr. Verghese Kurien, Father of White Revolution: He was the chairman of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.(GCMMF). GCMMF is an apex cooperative organization that manages the Amul food brand. He is recognised as the man behind the success of the Amul brand. Amul had a revenue of $1b USD in 2006-07. He is credited with being the architect of Operation Flood - the largest dairy development program in the world. Kurien helped modernise Anand model of cooperative dairy development and thus engineered the White Revolution in India, and made India the largest milk producer in the world. His uncle, John Mathai, was an economist who served as India's first Railway Minister and subsequently as India's Finance Minister. Upon his return from US after completing MSc in Mechanical engineering, he was posted as a dairy engineer at the government creamery, Anand, in May 1949. Around the same time, the infant cooperative dairy, Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union (KDCMPUL), now famous as Amul -- was fighting a battle with the Polson Dairy, which was privately owned. Young Kurien, fed up with being at the government creamery, which held no challenge, volunteered to help Shri Tribhuvandas Patel, the Chairman of KDCMPUL, to set up a processing plant. This marked the birth of AMUL. Dr Kurien died on the 9th of Sep, 2012.


 Arvind Gupta, The Scientific Toy maker: An alumni of IIT Kanpur, Arvind Gupta, has been vociferously working to promote the knowledge of Science amongst children since 1970's. He developed the idea of creating simple toys and educational experiments using locally available material. His book "Matchstick Models & other Science experiments" has been published in many languages. He further created a website that hosts small video of creating these toys from various things including trash. he has been awarded in many national & international forums for his relentless work in this area including the Third World Academy of Sciences. Currently he works at IUCAA, Pune. Here is a link to his website of toy making http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/ & his TED talk.


 Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, First Indian to venture into Space: It was Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma (Squadron Leader then) of the Indian Air Force, first indian, to conquer the space way back on April 2 1984 to orbital station Salyut-7. He had spent 8 days in the space. Rakesh Sharma was conferred India's highest peace time Gallantry award, Ashoka Chakra upon his return. He is also awarded as Hero of Soviet Union, an honorary title. Rakesh is a former IAF test pilot. His flight to space was part of the joint mission by ISRO & Russia, Intercosmos Research team. He also fought the Indo Pak 1971 war by flying various missions in his Mig aircraft successfully. Sharma has also worked on India's Light Combat Aircraft program which was flown very recently in public view & would be commissioned shortly in the India Air Force. When asked "How India looked from Space?" by the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, he replied "Sare Jahan se achha". Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra was his back up for the Space mission.


 

 Bachendri Pal, India's first woman to scale Mt. Everest: It was in 1984 that Bachendri Pal achieved the feat of being the first Indian woman to conquer the heights of Mt. Everest. An all rounder since childhood, born in Garhwal in 1954, she is an avid mountaineer. She started the same as early as when she was 12 years of age. She was selected as part of team of 6 women including her & 11 men. She is the fifth women in the world to have achieved this feat. Since 1984, she has led couple of expeditions to the Everest as well as leading some of the rafting expeditions. 


 E Sreedharaan, India's Metro Man: In 1963, a huge tidal wave washed away parts of Pamban Bridge that connected Rameshwaram to mainland Tamil Nadu. The Railways set a target of six months for the bridge to be repaired while Sreedharan's boss, under whose jurisdiction the bridge came, reduced it to three months. Sreedharan was put in-charge of the execution and he restored the bridge in just 46 days. The Railway minister's Award was given to him in recognition of this achievement. In 1970, as the deputy chief engineer, he was put in charge for implementation, planning and design of Calcutta metro, the first ever metro in India. Cochin Shipyard launched Rani Padmini, the first ship it built, when he was its Chairman and Managing Director (CMD). He is also highly regarded known for completing both the Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro projects within budget and ahead of schedule. He retired from Indian Railways as Member Engineering in 1990. Sreedharan also has an advisory board slot at a new Foundation for the Restoration of National Values. Business tycoon Ratan Tata and a former chief justice of India are serving, too. The foundation aims to "bring in good values in all areas of national life, to cleanse corruption in high places," says Sreedharan.


 Ratan Tata, A Truly Multinational Indian & Social Industrialist: He was born into the wealthy and famous Tata family of Bombay. He was born to Soonoo and Naval Hormusji Tata. Ratan is the great grandson of Tata group founder Jamsedji Tata. Ratan's childhood was troubled, his parents separating in the mid-1940s, when he was about seven and his younger brother Jimmy was five. His mother moved out and both Ratan and his brother were raised by their grandmother Lady Navajbai. Ratan Tata completed his BSc degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University in 1962, and the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975. He joined the Tata Group in December 1962, after turning down a job with IBM on the advice of JRD Tata. He was first sent to Jamshedpur to work at Tata Steel. He worked on the floor along with other blue-collar employees, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnaces. Ratan Tata, a shy man, rarely features in the society glossies, has lived for years in a book-crammed, dog-filled bachelor flat in Mumbai's Colaba district and is considered to be a gentleman extraordinaire. Present Chairman of Tata Sons and therefore, Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate founded by Jamsedji Tata and consolidated and expanded by later generations of his family. Mr Ratan Tata retired as Chairman of the TATA sons in Oct 2012 giving way to Cyrus Mistry as the new Chairman.


 Anand Kumar, Founder of Super 30: Anand is an Indian mathematician and a columnist for various national and international mathematical journals and magazines. There was a time when he couldn't go to Cambridge to pursue his higher studies due to paucity of funds which led him to start the Super 30 programme, along with IPS officer Abhayanand, at Patna, Bihar in 2002, which coaches economically backward students for IIT-JEE, the entrance examination for the Indian Institutes of Technology. By 2010, 212 students had made it to IITs and Discovery Channel showcased his work in a documentary. So far he has successfully sent at least 4 batches of 30 students each to various IIT's excluding the initial success. From this year on, he has also started coaching poor students from Punjab. http://super30.org/


 Amartya Kumar Sen, Renowned Economist: An eminent Indian economist. He is currently the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and a fellow of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge (previously served as the master from year 1998 to 2004) He is the first Indian academic to head an Oxbridge college. He is known as "the Conscience and the Mother Teresa of Economics" for his work on famine, human development theory, welfare economics, the underlying mechanisms of poverty, gender inequality, and political liberalism. In 1998, Sen won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to work on welfare economics. Amartya Sen's books have been translated into more than thirty languages. He is a trustee of Economists for Peace and Security. He has received over 80 honorary doctorates. In the year 2010, Time magazine listed him among the 100 most influential persons in the world. He was awarded Bharat Ratna in the year 1999.


Sports

Sania Mirza, Best Ranked Indian Woman in Tennis: Indian tennis player Sania Mirza born to sports journalist father Imran Mirza and mother Naseema who works in printing business on 15 November, 1986 in Mumbai. Although born in the business capital of India in Mumbai, Sania grown up in Hyderabad in a religious Muslim family. She has younger sister named Anam. Sania has done schooling from Nasr School, Hyderabad and graduation from St. Mary's College. Her father and other family members coached her to play tennis. In 2009, Mirza won first Grand Slam tile along with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi at Australian Open mixed doubles event. With this she became the first and only Indian woman to win a grand slam title. The highest career ranking of Sania Mirza till date is- 27 in singles and 18 in doubles.


Abhinav Bindra, Olympic Gold Medallist in Shooting: Khamosh bash….Haria raghle” (Stop crying…Haria will come) say Afghan mothers to wailing children. For the Afghans, Haria was a terror; for the Sikhs a warrior who conquered Kabul. General Hari Singh Nalwa was Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Commander in Chief. One day during a hunt, a tiger pounced on him. Caught unawares, Hari Singh seized him by the jaw and killed him with his bare hands. Ace Air Rifle shooter, Abhinav Bindra is a descendant of the famed General. His mother, Babli, is Nalwa’s fifth generation. Except Abhinav uses an air rifle instead of a sword and the sporting arena instead of the battlefield. If Abhinav is the proud Indian to have bagged a gold for his country, his ancestor was the one whose name was minted on Punjab’s currency.


Ronjan Sodhi, Commonwealth Silver Medallist in Shooting: With a Silver Medal in the recently ISSF championship in 2011, Ronjan booked an London 2012 Olympic birth but couldn't materialize it into winning a medal. Ronjan, though came into the shooting sport quite early but really shot into limelight only in 2010 when his winning spree started. He won around 4 prestigious awards in 2010 starting from Gold in ISSF World cup in Italy, Gold in World Cup in Turkey, Silver in Commonwealth Games & finally a Gold in Asian Games. Ronjan is player of Double Trap shooting. He has also been awarded with Arjuna Award.


Gagan Narang, Commonwealth Gold Medallist in Shooting: An Air Rifle Shooter, Gagan has won almost all sorts of prestigious awards including a Bronze in Olympics 2012 held at London in the 10m Air Rifle event. He won 4 Gold medals in 2011 Commonwealth Games. He has won at least 3 Gold awards in ISSF World Cups in 2006, 2008 & 2009. Besides the awards in shooting, he also has been awarded with Padma Shree in 2010 & Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2011, the highest sporting award in the country.


 Koneru Hampi, Best Ranked Indian Woman in Chess: She is a chess grandmaster from Hyderabad, India. Her January 2010 FIDE Elo rating is 2614, placing her number two in the world for women (behind Judit Polgár). In 2007 she surpassed the rating of 2577 set by Susan Polgar to become the second-highest ranked female player in history. She became the second female player ever, after Judit Polgár, to exceed the 2600 Elo mark. From 2002 through 2008, Humpy held the record as the youngest woman ever to become a grandmaster (not merely a Woman Grandmaster), which she achieved at the age of 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgár's previous mark by three months; however, this has since been surpassed by Hou Yifan. In 2001 she won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship. She is a Padma Shree awardee beyond many other in her crown.


Tejaswini Sawant, First Indian Woman to be World Shooting Champion: Tejaswini Sawant scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to clinch gold at the World Shooting Championships when she won the 50m rifle prone event on August 8, equalling the world record in the process. The 29-year-old shot a score of 597/600 (100, 100, 100, 99, 99, 99), equalling the world record set by Russia's Marina Bobkova in 1998. Second-placed Joanna Ewa Nowakowska of Poland also shot a 597 but the Indian won the gold as she had more bull's-eye hits - 41. In 2006, she won gold medals in Women's 10m Air Rifle singles and Women's 10m Air Rifle Pairs (with Avneet Kaur Sidhu) events at the Commonwealth Games at Melbourne. Sawant won a bronze medal in 50 metre rifle three positions at the 2009 ISSF World Cup in Munich.


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