Indian-Australian mathematician Akshay Venkatesh won the prestigious ‘Fields medal’, often known as the Nobel Prize for mathematics. He is the second Indian-origin mathematician to win the Fields Medal, after Manjul Bhargava, a Princeton University Professor who won the prestigious award in 2014. Meanwhile, let us take a look at the Nobel Prize winners who were Indian. The Nobel Prize is an annual international award bestowed on ‘those who conferred the greatest benefit on mankind’ in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, Literature, Peace, and Economics. Nobel Prizes are recognised as the most prestigious honours awarded in the mentioned fields. Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian citizen to be awarded the award. Among the total recipients, 12 are Indians – 5 Indian citizens and 7 Indian origins.
Here are the five Nobel Prize winners from India:
Rabindranath Tagore – The Nobel Prize in Literature, 1913
Rabindranath Tagore – writer, song composer, playwright, essayist and painter – was awarded the prestigious award ‘because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West’. In 1913, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize. National anthems – India’s ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and Bangladesh’s ‘Amar Shonar Bangla’ has been composed by Tagore. National Anthem of Sri Lanka is believed to be inspired from his poetry.
On March 25, 2004, Tagore’s Nobel Prize and several other belongings were stolen from the safety vault of the Visva-Bharati University. On 7 December 2004, the Swedish Academy decided to present two replicas of Tagore’s Nobel Prize, one made of gold and the other made of bronze, to the Visva-Bharati University. The incident inspired the fictional film ‘Nobel Chor’.
CV Raman – The Nobel Prize in Physics, 1930
CV Raman was awarded the prestigious award ‘For his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him’. He discovered the ‘Raman Effect’ – the phenomenon of change in wavelength in light rays that are deflected. It is believed that he was confident of winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1928 and 1929 and was disappointed when it went to Owen Richardson and Louis de Broglie, respectively. In 1930, Raman booked his tickets in July even before the announcement of the prize in November.
Mother Teresa – The Nobel Prize in Peace, 1979
Mother Teresa won the prestigious award ‘For work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace’. Born in the Republic of Macedonia, she arrived in India at the age of 19 and began her novitiate in Darjeeling. She spent her life as a Roman Catholic nun and as a missionary serving the poor. She earned the Nobel Prize in 1979. 19 years after her death she was canonized by the Roman Church.
Amartya Sen – The Nobel Prize in Economic Studies, 1998
In 1998, Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Studies ‘for his contributions to welfare economics’. Sen has made contributions to welfare economics, social choice theory, economic and social justice, economic theories of famines, and indices of the measure of well-being of citizens in developing countries. His research papers have won him many awards including India’s Nobel Memorial Prize (1998), Bharat Ratna (1999) and Johan Skytte Prize (2017), among others.
Kailash Satyarthi – The Nobel Prize in Peace, 2014
In 2014, Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai were jointly awarded the prestigious award ‘for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of children to education’. The children’s rights activist is the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, Global March Against Child Labour, and Good Weave International. In 2015, he was featured in Fortune Magazine’s ‘World’s Greatest Leaders’ list. His work has won him many national and international honours and awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, Harvard’s University’s ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ award in 2015, Defenders of Democracy Award (US) in 2009, and Gold medal of the Italian Senate in 2007, among others.
List of Indian-born Nobel Laureates
- Har Gobind Khorana – The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1968
- Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar – The Nobel Prize in Physics 1983
- Venkatraman Ramakrishnan – The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009
- Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1943 and for the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1950.
- Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for the Peace prize thrice – 1937-39, 1947 and 1948 (a few days before being assassinated in January 1948.