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#TBIYearEnders: 10 Indians Who Made the World Sit Up & Take Note of Them in 2018!

#TBIYearEnders: 10 Indians Who Made the World Sit Up & Take Note of Them in 2018!

It was Wangchuk’s character that Aamir Khan was portraying in the movie 3 Idiots. Earlier this year, he was honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

There have been more than 5,000 incredible stories that we, at The Better India, have covered over the last 12 months. Our protagonists have been celebrated across the country, and some even found global acclaim.

In this article, we bring to you 10 such people who not only did some amazing work but also brought in accolades for India.

10. Abhay Ashtekar

Source: birdtracks/ Flickr.

An Indian-born scientist, Abhay was fascinated with physics concepts and realised rather early on in life that while art and literature are subjective to cultures, people, and even places, physics is a constant.

He is a theoretical physicist specialising in general relativity, cosmology and quantum gravity. With years of work in the field of quantum gravity, this year, he was awarded the Einstein Prize by the American Physical Society (APS).

With over 270 scientific papers and nine scientific books on general relativity, cosmology, and quantum gravity, Abhay is certainly a name to reckon in the field of quantum gravity.

Read more about him here.

9. Dhivya Suryadevara

Dhivya Suryadevara (Source: Facebook/Financial Services)
Dhivya Suryadevara (Source: Facebook/Financial Services)

In July 2018, Dhivya made history by becoming the first female Chief Financial Officer of US-based MNC, General Motors (GM). With Dhivya’s elevation we, in India, also have a lot to cheer about, since this 39-year-old hails from Chennai.

Dhivya lost her father early on in life and was brought up by her mother, who ensured that the best education exposure and opportunities were provided to her.

Joining GM at 25, Dhivya has worked her way to this top job. In 2016, she won the Automotive New Rising Star, an award instituted by Crain’s Detroit Business 40-under-40.

Read more about her here.

8. Dr Bharat Vatwani

Sonam Wangchul (Left) and Dr Bharat Vatwani (Right)
Dr Bharat Vatwani

According to government estimates, there are about 4 lakh mentally ill patients across the country. The work that Dr Bharat Vatwani, a psychiatrist based in Mumbai, has been doing since 1988 has helped rescue, rehabilitate, and reunite more than 7,000 such patients.

Having established Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation with his wife, Smitha, the couple has been instrumental in helping many across Maharashtra. In recognition of his work, he was honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award, which is also referred to as the Asian version of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The plight of a schizophrenic BSc graduate drinking water from a gutter prompted Dr Vatwani to work for the destitute.

Read his story here.

7. Balkrishna Doshi

BV Doshi architect Prtizker Prize
BV Doshi photo source: Twitter/Pritzker Prize

An architect par excellence, Balkrishna Doshi, at the age of 90, was bestowed with the highest honour in the field of architecture–Pritzker Architecture Prize. Not only did he get the award, but he is also the first Indian to do so.

Born into a family of furniture makers, Doshi had the opportunity to study in fine institutions and was exposed to various kinds of styles and techniques from early on.

In 1950, he worked in Paris as an apprentice under Le Corbusier, known as the master of modernism. Some of his iconic works include the IIM Bengaluru, IIM Lucknow, Tagore Memorial Hall, and National Institute of Fashion Technology.

Read his story here.

6. Hima Das

Hima Das (Source: Facebook/Mahesh Babu)
Hima Das (Source: Facebook/Mahesh Babu)

Nicknamed ‘Dhing Express’, Hima Das is an Indian sprint runner who created history and made the world take note of her when she created a national record in the 400 meters race with a timing of 50.79 seconds. After a difficult childhood and upbringing, Hima’s successes are truly inspirational.

Until 2016, Hima spent her time playing football in the village. Being noticed by her physical education teacher is what changed her life around.

With 18-months of training, this young lady managed to make everyone take note of her. As an Indian, watching Hima run towards the finish line, not only gave me goosebumps but also made me extremely proud.

Watch that video and read her story here.

5. Vikas Sathaye

Vikas Sathaye

If you enjoyed the stunning cinematography in Dunkirk, then you have Pune-born engineer Vikas Sathaye to thank for it. Having spent his younger days in India, Vikas moved to New Zealand to work at Shotover Camera Systems.

It was here that Vikas was part of a four-member team that designed a mount which could fit on a helicopter and minimise the vibrations that reach the camera, thereby smoothening the shots.

Not only did the film fraternity appreciate it but also gave it global recognition when it bagged an award at the Oscars in the Scientific and Technical category “for the concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera Systems”.

Read his story here.

4. Bajrang Punia

Photo Source: Facebook

This star wrestler scripted history by becoming the first Indian wrestler to clinch the number one rank in the world in the 65-kg category. Punia hails from Haryana, a state that is referred to as the cradle of Indian wrestling.

Being exposed to the sport rather early on, Punia started training at the age of seven.

In a report published by Inside Sport, Punia says, “I consider myself blessed to get the desired support from all quarters to come this far. This is a reflection of India’s overall growth in wrestling.”

3. Sonam Wangchuk

Sonam Wangchuk (Source: Facebook/HIAL)
Sonam Wangchuk. Source: Facebook

For thousands of officers of the Indian armed forces posted 12,000 feet above sea level in Ladakh, access to uninterrupted power supply was always an issue. Without 24/7 power supply, they would often resort to using firewood and kerosene to keep warm. Given that these alternates are not the most environment-friendly, Sonam Wangchuk’s innovation came at just the right time.

He developed a pre-fabricated solar heated mud hut, which is an eco-friendly solution, requiring little external heating. It is seemingly the perfect solution to the cold for many soldiers who come from the warmer plains.

It was Wangchuk that Aamir Khan’s character was portraying in the movie 3 Idiots. Earlier this year, he was honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Read his story here.

2. Pratyush Kumar

Pratyush Kumar. Source: Boeing/Twitter.

Pratyush Kumar’s journey as an 11-year-old to the national capital from a remote village in Bihar which did not even have electricity or road connectivity changed the course of his life.

An engineering graduate from IIT Delhi, Pratyush was recently selected by US-based aircraft-maker Boeing to lead its advanced F-15 Fighter Jet Programme.

During his tenure in India, Pratyush worked towards advancing the company’s interest and in establishing a strong foothold in the Indian aviation industry. Acknowledging his contribution, he has been rewarded with this new role at the company.

Read his story here.

1. Samay Godika

The 15-year-old budding science enthusiast. Source: Facebook.

16-year-old Samay Godika won the Breakthrough Junior Challenge with his innovative submission in the Life Sciences category. In this challenge, students between 13 and 18 years of age are invited to create original videos that illustrate a concept in the physical or life sciences.

By winning this challenge, Samay has won prize money worth $400,000, which converts to Rs 2.9 crore, and also a state-of-the-art science lab costing over Rs 36 lakh for his school.

Samay’s submission was in the Life Sciences category and broke down the concept of circadian rhythm. This refers to the 24-hour biological processes that can affect simple daily experiences or activities, whether waking up for school or jet lag.

Read his story here.


Here’s to including many more achievements by fellow Indians in the coming year.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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