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By Harshmeet Singh

Though the line ‘saare jahan se achcha, Hindustan hamara’ was first recited by Iqbal, it has been immortalized by Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to fly into space. Despite being a part of all the school GK books and an answer to a common quiz question across the schools, Rakesh Sharma remains a down to earth person.


As he celebrates his 67th birthday today, NewsGram warmly wishes him a Happy Birthday by bringing to you five lesser known facts about the man who took India’s name higher than ever, both literally and figuratively!

  1. Upon his return from the space, he was conferred India’s highest peace time gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra. He was also awarded the title ‘Hero of Soviet Union’, which was Soviet Union’s ‘highest distinction awarded personally or collectively for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.’

Ashoka Chakra was also conferred upon Col Yuri Vasilevich Malyzhev and Col Gennady Mikhailovich Strekalov, the other members of the mission. This remains the only occasion when Ashoka Chakra was awarded to foreigners.

2. After becoming a cosmonaut, he was a decorated pilot of the India Air Force and a squadron leader.


3. He went to space in the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 which was a joint collaboration between ISRO and Soviet Intercosmos space program.


4. Post his space journey, he joined the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) to take up the role of Chief Test Pilot at the Nashik Division.


5. His son, Kapil Sharma is a Bollywood director, and has directed the movie ‘I, Me aur Main’ starring John Abraham, Prachi Desai and Chitrangada Singh.

(Images courtesy: pages.rediff.com, www.famousbirthdays.com, vayu-sena.tripod.com)


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Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.

Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.

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