You may already know of numerous celebrities around the world who are actually NRIs. You may know Dev Patel from the Oscar-nominated Slumdog Millionaire. You may love Kunal Nayyar from the hit comedy sitcom Big Bang Theory. You may also recognize Russel Peters and Hasan Minhaj from their rise to the top in the international comedy scene. While these celebrities have earned all the attention and recognition they get, there are many other NRIs out there who have made every Indian equally proud but haven’t received as much attention. Let’s appreciate the NRIs who deserve more recognition than we’ve given.
1. Narinder Singh KapanyNarinder Singh Kapany is an Indian-born American physicist who is known for his work in fibre optics. He was born in a Sikh family in Moga, Punjab and studied at Agra University. He even served as an Indian Ordnance Factories Service officer before going to Imperial College London in 1952 to get a PhD in optics.From there, he founded vastly successful companies like Optics Technology Inc. and Laptron Inc. He was also the one to coin the term “fibre optics”. Later. he came to be known as the “Father of Fibre Optics”. Due to his valuable contributions, he was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman and was listed as one of the seven “Unsung Heroes” by Fortune in their “Businessmen of the Century” issue.
2. Kiran DesaiKiran Desai is a renowned novelist known for her novel “The Inheritance of Loss”. She was born in 1971 in New Delhi and spent the early years of her life in Pune and Mumbai. She left India at the age of 14 and, after spending a year in England, she moved with her mother to the United States. There, she studied creative writing at Bennington College, Hollins University, and Columbia University.Her first novel “Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard” received accolades from key figures like Salman Rushdie and won the Betty Trask Award. But it was her second book “The Inheritance of Loss” that won her the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle in 2006. Kiran’s mother, Anita Desai is also an exceptional writer and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
3. Pranav MistryPranav Mistry is a computer scientist and inventor known for his work on the SixthSense technology. He was born in 1981 in Palanpur, Gujarat and completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Nirma Institute of Technology in Ahmedabad. He has also completed a master’s degree in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT and Master of Design from the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay.
Though he started working at Samsung as Director of Research in 2012, he now holds the prestigious position of the Global Vice President. In the past, he has also worked with Google, CMU, NASA, Japan Science and Technology, and UNESCO. Throughout his career, he has developed technologies like SixthSense, a gesture-based wearable computer system; Mouseless, an invisible computer mouse; Sparsh, a revolutionary way to transfer data between digital devices; and Blinkbot, a gaze and blink-controlled robot. These business ideas are on par with innovations that came much later like KaroBargain that completely change the way something is done.
4. Zubin MehtaZubin Mehta is an Indian conductor of Western and Eastern classical music. He’s the Conductor Emeritus of Los Angeles Philharmonic and the music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He was born in a Parsi family in Mumbai, India during the British Raj and received most of his early music education from his father who was the founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. After receiving his diploma as a conductor, he gained experience by substituting for celebrated maestros around the world.
As his career progressed, he became the music director of the Montreal Symphony orchestra from 1961 to 1967 and of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra from 1962 to 1978. During these positions, he was the youngest music director ever for any major North American orchestra. Finally, he was appointed as the Music Advisor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and became its Music Director for Life in 1981.
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