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Swami Vivekananda- January 12, 1863

Swami Vivekananda, born Narendranath Dutta was one of the most admired spiritual leaders of India whose invaluable life and teachings enthralled the whole world. Born in an aristocratic middle-class Bengali family of Calcutta, this blithe spirit garnered the portrait of an inspiring Hindu monk in the world and was one of the main representatives of Neo-Vedanta, a modern interpretation of selected aspects of Hinduism.

Vivekananda manifested the idea of freedom in the pre-independent India, trapped in communal disharmony and sectarianism. He advocated that all sects within Hinduism (and all religions) are different paths to the same goal.

America’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 witnessed the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D C, mounting a large portrait of Swami Vivekananda as part of its exhibition ‘Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation’.

In his 39 years of life, Vivekananda suffered from various ailments as a result of tireless service to man and God. His motto was, “One has to die…it is better to wear out than to rust out.” (picture courtesy:

Rakesh Sharma- January 13, 1949

This former Indian Air Force pilot was the first Indian to travel in space. He was conferred with the honour of Hero of Soviet Union upon his return from space. The ace pilot flew aboard Soyuz T-11 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic on 2 April 1984 as part of the Intercosmos program. India became the 14th nation to send a man to outer space.

His work was mainly in the fields of bio-medicine and remote sensing and was an important member of war operations conducted against Pakistan.

“As Pakistani rangers suffered casualties, they waved white flags, asking BSF to stop the firing so that they can lift the bodies of the dead men. We stopped the firing after their request.” – Rakesh Sharma.

In a joint television news conference with the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Sharma had the perfect answer when she asked him how India looked from outer space- Saare Jahan Se Achcha (the best in the world). The Government of India conferred its highest gallantry award on completing the given mission, the Ashoka Chakra on this ace cosmonaut.

In 2006, Sharma took part in a conference involving a gathering of the best scientists of ISRO.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose- January 23, 1897

This Indian nationalist had once been the leader of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s, becoming the president of Congress in 1938 and 1939. His influential slogan of “You give me blood, I’ll give you Freedom” which filled the hearts of millions of Indians with deep patriotism during the struggle for independence knew no bounds of popularity.

Born into a large family in Orissa, his defiant patriotism made him India’s hero. Remaining true to his ferocious patriotism, he was expelled from the Presidency College and banished from Calcutta University for assaulting Professor Oaten for his anti-India comments.

Mahatma Gandhi called him the “patriot of patriots” in spite of being opposed to Bose’s ideologies. Bose did everything he could to bring independence to India. He even befriended his enemy’s enemy, Germany and Japan to get their support to make the British leave India. (picture courtesy:

Satyendra Nath Bose- January 1, 1894

This ace Indian physicist, born in Calcutta is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s. He specialised in mathematical physics, providing the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate. He was also nominated as a member of Rajya Sabha.

He was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 by the Government of India. He was also a fellow of the Royal Society. The class of particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics, bosons by Paul Dirac was named after Bose. In 1959, he was appointed as the National Professor. The title is the highest honour in the country for a scholar which he held for 15 years.

In 1986, the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences was established by an act of Parliament, Government of India, in Salt Lake, Calcutta. (picture

Har Gobind Khorana- January 9, 1922

Khorana is an Indian-American notable biochemist from Raipur, India whose role was to conceive the methods leading to the synthesis of well-defined nucleic acids, further ultimately leading to the solution of the genetic code.

He shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W Nirenberg and Robert W Holley for a research which showed the behaviour of the ‘genetic cell code’ carrying nucleotides which control the cell’s synthesis of proteins.

Khorana and Nirenberg were also awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in the same year. After becoming the United States citizen in 1966, he received the National Medal of Science.

In a joint collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Government of India (DBT Department of Biotechnology), and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, the Khorana Program in 2007 was formed whose mission was to build a consistent community of scientists, industrialists, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and India. (picture courtesy:



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