His extraordinary rags-to-riches story epitomises the grit and dynamism of self-propelled Indian entrepreneurship. He is credited with having revolutionised the way our stockmarkets, financial markets and global-scale projects are run. A major influence on critical economic policies in the late 20th century, he also epitomised the growing nexus between business and politics.
India’s first business visionary, whose thinking went beyond toplines, bottomlines and marketshare. For this humane industrialist, who was a byword for business ethics and corporate philanthropy, social margins and national interests were vital.
Our first MNC promoter, he truly put India on the global economic map. He also transformed the way in which businessmen were perceived by the middle-class, intellectuals. His achievements and his business philosophy have encouraged thousands of conservative, educated, middle-class Indians to think big.
The most renowned living exponent of Kathak, he conjures up Lord Krishna’s mesmerising magic the moment he appears on stage. And he has as many talents as the Blue God had wives—musician, drummer and choreographer par excellence, including for films like Ray’s Shatranj ke Khiladi.
Goddess of Bharatanatyam
She was to Bharatanatyam what Pavlova was to ballet—a legend whose every movement was imbued with sublime grace and passion. A Devadasi dancer from Tanjore, she took classical dance out of the temple, bringing it to the public stage and international acclaim.
India’s answer to Picasso, he’s taught us a new way to look at everything from horses to goddesses. With his penchant for ambling around barefoot and chronicling his crushes on actresses on canvas, he’s the icon of modern Indian art, admired for his eccentricities and his moolah. Hindu extremists have chased him into exile, but most Indians hail him as a national treasure.
The artistic descendant of Indian mythological oleographs as well as Rousseau and Hockney, this iconoclastic, self-taught artist depicted Everyman in India with compelling and enduring power—whether in the midst of sectarian violence, in a roadside teashop, or in a homosexual relationship. His paintings continue to be sought after and prized by the world’s top museums and collectors.
Kapil Dev Nikhanj is Indian cricket’s greatest fast bowler, its best all-rounder and the captain who inspired a middling Indian side into winning the World Cup of 1983.