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10 Indian Role Models

  • Date Submitted: 04/07/2013 09:41 AM
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10 Indian Role Models

This list is based on my own, highly subjective, loose criteria of what constitutes a good role model. We now live at a time when we Indians are pushing ourselves to hitherto unattained, high levels of excellence – in field after field, in discipline after discipline. Gone are the days when someone merely had to be physically present on a job for ten years to be considered an expert (and eventually go on to become a 'holy cow' by coasting along for another ten years). Folks, finally, the best among us are truly world class and are terrific examples for generations to come.

Of course, the 'Indian role model' has to have a significant desi component – should have been born or brought up (or both) in India. So, NRIs qualify. But persons of Indian origin who are a generation or more removed from India, such as V.S. Naipaul, were not considered. And only living persons were deemed eligible.

After I made up the list, the main thing I found in common among the ten people is their level of excellence. Almost all of them appeared on the scene with an incredible bang and kept staying on top of their passion throughout. And during their long, sustained tenure, they have been prolific. Simplicity, making extraordinary efforts against extraordinary odds, social consciousness and making their marks in many varied disciplines also seemed a running theme among my role models.

(In alphabetical order of their first names)

(1) President Abdul Kalam: “Dream, dream and dream. Then translate your dreams into thoughts and then into action...” is President Kalam's favorite mantra. His life itself is an example of this philosophy – rising from a fisherman's village to ending up in the presidential palace and along the way launching a bunch of missiles and winning a few 'Padma' (and Bharat Ratna) awards. His simplicity is remarkable, considering the presidential office in India still has Raj vestiges. (They even had a person just to tie the...


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