Role Models

5/31/2017 4:36:22 PM
written By : Team India Se Print

1. Tenzing Norgay (May 29, 1914 — May 9, 1986) 

Tenzing Norgay was one of the first two climbers to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. Norgay grew up in Nepal, but was a long-time resident and citizen of India before his historic climb. After years of hard work and seven arduous Everest expeditions, among others, the renowned Sherpa mountaineer and his fellow climber, Edmund Hilary from New Zealand, reached the pinnacle of the world’s highest mountain on May 29 1953. Norgay was hailed a hero and honoured with the George Medal by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. After his expedition, he dedicated his days to training students at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), India and Asia’s first climbing school, officially opened by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956. Norgay passed away at the age of 71 in his home in Darjeeling, India.

2. Ramanujan (Dec 22, 1887 — April 26, 1920) 

Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar was one of India’s greatest mathematicians of modern times. Born in Erode, Tamil Nadu, Ramanujan had almost no formal training in mathematics, and yet, was already discovering his own theorems by the age of 13! Many, including his father, mistook his genius for insanity until some teachers and educationists initiated a move to provide him with a research fellowship at the University of Madras. Ramanujan’s brilliance also earned him a coveted spot at the reputed Cambridge University. Ramanujan was the first Indian to be elected Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and only the second Indian to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society. His achievements at Cambridge include discovering the Hardy-Ramanujan-Littlewood circle method in number theory, Roger-Ramanujan’s identities in partition of integers and a long list of the highest composite numbers. Unfortunately, his health began to worsen and he returned to Kumbakonam, India, where he died at the age of 32, leaving India and the mathematical world with an irreplaceable loss.

3. Indian National Army (Aug 1942 — Sept 1945) 

Under the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose, the Indian National Army’s (INA) struggle for Indian independence drew thousands of ex-prisoners and civilian volunteers from both India and the Indian expatriate population in Southeast Asia and Burma. The INA also included the first women’s regiment in any Asian army, named the Rani of Jhansi regiment. Despite diminishing supplies and treacherous conditions, the INA fought valiantly against the British and Commonwealth forces in Imphal, Kohima and Burma. When three top officers of the INA were court-martialled by the British in the INA trial at Red Fort, the Indian public was outraged and a national upsurge resulted. Following the INA trial, mutiny began in the Royal Indian Navy and the Royal Indian Air Force, crumbling British control, which up till then had been built on the implicit and unyielding loyalty of Indian troops. As American historian Peter Ward Fay says, “It was the Indian National Army that forced Britain’s hand.”

4. Gautam Banerjee 

A first-generation Singaporean Indian, Gautam Banerjee is a Senior Advisor to the Blackstone Group, a member of its International Advisory panel and also Chairman of Blackstone Singapore. He was the Executive Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Singapore for 9 years until his retirement on December 31, 2012. Banerjee was also a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) from 2007-2009, a first in a country where only the native born have been picked for the post. Born in Calcutta, Banerjee became a Singapore citizen in 1990. Having studied in Singapore as a teenager in the 1970s, he applied to be an NMP when a few individuals suggested that it would be a good way of giving something back to his adopted country. “I think (my acceptance as a nominated MP) is a sign of  the times. Singapore wanted to make a statement that as a country it is changing and is asking foreign talent to come here and demonstrating that in some cases we are willing to have them take part in every aspect of the country’s growth including its highest law-making body,” he said. Banerjee currently serves on many corporate boards and is a member of the Governing Board of the Yale-NUS College.

5. Dalai Lama — (July 6 1935 — Present) 

World spiritual leader and head of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as recipient of the Nobel Peace prize — the 14th Dalai Lama is considered one of the greatest leaders of our time. Exiled from Tibet in 1959, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama fled from the Chinese army, crossing the unforgiving Himalayan terrain on foot and Yak-back to seek asylum in India. Revered by followers all over the world, the 81-year-old Buddhist leader embodies paradoxes — he is a religious teacher who warns against the entanglements of religion and believes people should stay within their own faiths. Known for his candour and self-criticism, he stresses he is still a learner. “In spite of my big name, Dalai Lama (Ocean of Wisdom), my knowledge in this life is very limited — because I’m a lazy student — although this life has some influence from my previous lives,” he says, lacing his talk with humour and metaphysics.

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