1. Dr Brij Kothari The 58-year-old social entrepreneur conceived the Billion Readers (BIRD) initiative, a tool with the ability to improve literacy among weak readers in India and across the world. He pioneered the concept of ‘Same Language Subtitling’ wherein audio visual content is subtitled in the same language as the audio.

2. Esther Shanthi As the manager of one of Chennai’s largest crematoriums, the Otteri cremation ground, 44-year-old Esther has revamped the space from being a hub of hub for “alcohol, drugs and criminal” into one that is peaceful and provides dignity in death.

3. Udaysinh Jadhav Known as ‘Ahmedabad no rikshawalo’, Udaysinh has been running an auto with no meter on a pay-it-forward model for the past 12 years. People can pay as they please, and what they pay is essentially a gift for the next passenger.

4. Dr Luis Jose De Souza Now 79, Dr Luis still manages Shanti Avedna Sadan, India’s first hospice, where he provides free palliative care for terminally ill cancer patients. Having served as a cancer surgeon for 30 years at Tata Hospital, Dr Luis started the hospice which has cared for “more than 40,000 patients” to date.

5. Satinder Bajwa Shimla-born Satinder Bajwa was a coach of the squash team for Harvard University in 2006. He returned to Chandigarh in 2009 to start Khelshala to provide an all-rounded education to underprivileged kids.

6. Sudha Verghese Kerala-native Sudha has been living and working with the Musahars, a Mahadalit community, for three decades through her NGO Nari Gunjan started in 1987. Sudha has also introduced livelihood programmes for the women of the community such as poultry and goat rearing.

7. Dr Kiran Martin As a paediatrician, Dr Martin visited a Delhi slum in 1988 to check on a cholera outbreak. Shocked by the poor living and health conditions, she set up a small clinic under a tree. Today, she supports over 500,000 slum dwellers in 60 slum colonies of Delhi through her organisation Asha.

8. Neeraj Murmu The 22-year-old was once trapped in the clutches of hazardous mica mines in Jharkhand. When he managed to get out, he set up a local school for children in his village in 2018. ‘Kailash Satyarthi’ has educated over 200 impoverished children and rescued 20 child labourers from the hazardous occupation of mica mining.

9. Viji Penkoottu Women shop owners in Kerala’s Mittai Theruvu, SM Street, in Kozhikode, were denied the right to sit or visit the toilet. The 52-year-old activist’s 9-year-long struggle against this resulted in the Government of Kerala amending the Shop and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Act in July 2018, to ensure that every single shop in the state had a toilet and seating facility for its staff.

10. Rohit Kumar Yadav This 35-year-old Government Railway Police (GRP) constable has been running a school for the poor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh with his own salary since 2018. Every month, he keeps aside Rs 10,000 for the school that now teaches 90 children from underprivileged backgrounds.